Fish and Seafood

Fish and Seafood

Seafood is highly nutritious, rich in micronutrients, and supplies essential amino acids and omega-3 fatty acids. An estimated 2.6 billion people derive at least 20 percent of their animal protein intake from seafood.[1] However, there is not an endless supply of seafood. Over the past 50 to 100 years, 90 percent of predatory fish communities (giant marlin, swordfish, large tuna, and sharks) have been depleted.[2] Additionally, a full 75 percent of worldwide commercial fish stocks are already considered fully exploited, overexploited, or depleted.[1] A 2006 article published in the Journal of Science predicted a collapse (a loss of 90 percent) of most current commercial seafood stocks by 2050, due in large part to biodiversity loss in human-dominated ocean ecosystems.[3]

Overfishing, IUU (Illegal, Unregulated, and Unreported) targeting of sensitive species, bycatch, lack of offshore enforcement, and consumer indifference are all problems with the current harvest of wild seafood sources.[4] It's estimated that between 18 and 40 million tons of bycatch (including turtles, seabirds, marine mammals, whales, sharks, and dolphins) are discarded annually by commercial fishing vessels like bottom trawlers and pelagic longline and driftnet boats.[5][6] Bottom trawling, in particular, is an especially destructive practice, essentially razing large swaths of ocean floor and resulting in ecosystem damage and habitat loss.[7]

With demand for seafood rising, industry has turned to fish-farming, also known as aquaculture, which produced 45.5 million tons of fish worldwide in 2004.[1] Aquaculture is the fastest-growing animal food producing sector, but can result in fish that have elevated toxin levels.[8] The environmental impact of aquaculture is one of wild habitat and biodiversity loss, local eutrophication, anaerobic sediment buildup, and algal bloom growth due to excess nitrates and phosphates. Additionally, farmed fish are sometimes maintained on unsustainable feed-fish derived from the wild fish capture industry, and thus, any increase in carnivorous-species aquaculture creates stress and demand on wild fish populations.[1]

Related health issues

Mercury, released mostly through industrial processes like coal burning, is bio-concentrated in fish. It can be toxic to the nervous system, especially effecting fetuses and infants.[9][10] Both wild and farmed fish have high levels of persistent organic pollutants like PCBs (Polychlorinated biphenyls), PBDE's (polybrominated flame retardants), and chlorinated dioxins because of bio-concentration and bio-accumulation these toxins.[11] Accidental exposures associated with these compounds cause nervous and reproductive system impairment, cancer, and immune supression.[12][13] Some seafood, such as crabs, shrimp, and oysters may carry bacteria such as Vibrio pathogens, causing maladies like food-sickness and cholera in humans.[14][15]


  • aquaculture, mariculture, or fish farming: The practice of farming seafood for human consumption.
  • bycatch: Also known as incidental catch, is the name for organisms caught that are not a vessel's "target-species," as well as reproductively immature juveniles of target species. Bycatch is often returned to the sea dead or dying, and can include fish, turtles, seabirds, marine mammals, whales, sharks, and dolphins. It is estimated that between 18 and 40 million tons of bycatch are discarded annually by commercial fishing vessels using non-selective fishing equipment like trawler nets, drift nets, and longlines.[16][6]
  • trawlers: Commercial fishing vessels that drag large nets along the ocean floor to harvest bottom-dwelling species like shrimp, flounder, cod, and rockfishes. This practice destroys the ocean floor habitat and irreparably damages sedentary sea life such as corals, clearing miles in a single pass and creating a dead zone that may take centuries to rejuvenate.[17]
  • PCBs, or polychlorinated biphenyls: Chemicals that are highly-toxic, persistent organic pollutants that contaminate waterways and accumulate in fish populations, working their way into the human food chain.

External links


Susan Short

Blue Ocean has teamed with Mobile commons to provide a text messaging service. You text message to the number 30644, type "fish" (without quotation marks), one space and then the type of fish you are curious about. It will look like this: fish red snapper

In a couple of minutes you will get a text message back with information from Blue Ocean's data base about it's status as a species and if there are any personal health risks to know about.

It's really convenient.

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.