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Fish and Shellfish: 6 to Eat, 6 to Avoid (Page 8)

6 Fish to Avoid

6 Fish to Avoid

A number of environmental organizations have also advocated taking many fish off the menu. The large fish listed here are just six examples EatingWellem> chose to highlight: popular fish that are both depleted and, in many cases, carry higher levels of mercury and PCBs. The Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) has also posted health advisories on some of these fish at edf.org.

1. Bluefin Tuna
In December 2009 the World Wildlife Fund put the bluefin tuna on its “10 for 2010” list of threatened species, alongside the giant panda, tigers and leatherback turtles. Though environmental groups are advocating for protected status, the bluefin continues to command as much as $177,000 a fish. Bluefin have high levels of mercury and their PCBs are so high that EDF recommends not eating this fish at all.

2. Chilean Sea Bass (aka Patagonian Toothfish)
Slow-growing and prized for its buttery meat, Chilean sea bass has been fished to near depletion in its native cold Antarctic waters. The methods used to catch them—trawlers and longlines—have also damaged the ocean floor and hooked albatross and other seabirds. At present, there is one well-managed fishery that is MSC-certified. EDF has issued a consumption advisory for Chilean sea bass due to high mercury levels: adults should eat no more than two meals per month and children aged 12 and younger should eat it no more than once a month.

3. Grouper
High mercury levels in these giant fish have caused EDF to issue a consumption advisory. Groupers can live to be 40 but only reproduce over a short amount of time, making them vulnerable to overfishing.

4. Monkfish
This strange fish resembles a catfish in that it has whiskers and is a bottom dweller, but its light, fresh taste made it a staple for gourmets. The fish is recovering some after being depleted, but the trawlers that drag for it also threaten the habitat where it lives.

5. Orange Roughy
Like grouper, this fish lives a long life but is slow to reproduce, making it vulnerable to overfishing. As Seafood Watch puts it: “Orange roughy lives 100 years or more—so the fillet in your freezer might be from a fish older than your grandmother!” This also means it has high levels of mercury, causing EDF to issue a health advisory.

6. Salmon (farmed)
Most farmed salmon (and all salmon labeled “Atlantic salmon” is farmed) are raised in tightly packed, open-net pens often rife with parasites and diseases that threaten the wild salmon trying to swim by to their ancestral spawning waters. Farmed salmon are fed fishmeal, given antibiotics to combat diseases and have levels of PCBs high enough to rate a health advisory from EDF. Recently, however, freshwater-farmed Coho salmon have earned a Best Choice status from Seafood Watch. There is hope consumer pressure will encourage more farms to adopt better practices.

Next Slideshow: The Best and Worst Protein Choices »

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