Picture by David Ooms
Studies have long confirmed the health benefits of fish. Fish is high in protein, low in saturated fat and rich in omega-3. Of course, there are occasional health scares associated with the consumption of fish, such as concerns over the mercury content found in some varieties. Even then, the rich nutritional content far outweighs any slim likelihood of there being any health risks.
If you are a fish lover, then you may be disturbed by some recent findings. A study by Greenpeace concluded that as high as 70 percent of the world’s fisheries are being over exploited. Commercial fishing vessels are catching fish faster than the population can replenish its numbers. This is causing a rapid decline in common fish varieties that most people enjoy, which includes swordfish, marlin, flounder and even the one fish that everyone enjoys right out of the can: tuna.
Whole Foods, one of the country’s premiere food manufacturing companies, recognized the problem and formed an alliance with the Monterey Bay Aquarium and the Blue Ocean Institute to release a new color coded system to determine the sustainability of different fish varieties. Fish listed under a green category, for instance, are in abundance and are caught in an environmentally sound way. By contrast, those listed in red are in danger from overfishing. Whole Foods have made the decision to put a halt to the sale of some of the seafood under the red category.
These are the categories:
Green (best choice): The species are abundant and caught in environmentally friendly ways.
Yellow (good alternative): Some concerns exist with the species’ status or catch methods.
Red (avoid): A species is suffering from overfishing or current fishing methods harm other marine life or habitats.
As a consumer, it is your free choice to consume whatever fish you like. However, you are encouraged to avoid fish listed in the red category. This will send a message to restaurants to remove them from their menu. By being more selective with the type of fish you order, you can contribute to the repopulation of fish that are on the brink of making it to the endangered species list.