It has become common knowledge that a fish-rich diet means healthier, skinnier, and happier people. After all, fish are loaded with Omega-3 fatty acids, sort of magical cure-all for everything from high cholesterol to bad skin. The same chorus that sings the praises of having fish for dinner touts dire consequences of mixing plastic and food. But, what happens if plastics meet fish long before the fish is anywhere near the dinner table?
There are 46,000 pieces of plastic per square mile of ocean. In and of itself this would not be a problem for all of the unsuspecting pescetarians out there, but for the unfortunate reality that this plastic is not only finding its way into the diet of the very fish we love to eat, but in many cases, its months if not years afloat allow it to absorb a myriad of different toxins. Plastics tend to act as sponges soaking up things called persistent organic pollutants (POPs), various types of insecticides and industrial wastes, among others. Once fish and other sea life consume these toxin-soaked plastics, the chemicals remain in the food chain till it reaches our dinner tables.
Obviously, fish is still a very good source of healthy protein, so what can be done to reduce the risks associated with consuming it? Well, there are a few precautions you can take. Because POPs are more likely to concentrate the longer it remains in the food chain, refrain from buying highly predatory fish like tuna and marlin. Instead opt for fish that are 5 pounds or less. Eat seafood that is caught far out at sea. Alaskan seafood, for example, has a far smaller concentration of POPs than in other parts of the world. Since POPs tend to accumulate in fatty tissues, avoid fattier fish and the fatty parts of shellfish.
Even though there may be problems with fish being the perfect food that does not mean you should avoid it completely. The old adage, everything in moderation, definitely applies here. Even the worst offenders can be consumed occasionally, but limiting them would be prudent to avoid certain, potential health complications.
To read more about POPs and how it may affect the fish on your table, check out these sites.
About the author:
Hi, my name is Jonathan Wyatt. I am a 26 year old with a shiny, new Master’s degree in environmental economics. I am still searching for that first job in my field, but I am excited to be able to write about the oceans and how protecting them is in the best interest of human health.