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 Post subject: Fish to Eat & Not to Eat
PostPosted: Wed Jan 31, 2007 2:45 pm 
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From 'The Audubon Guide to Seafood' compiled by Carl Safina, Ph.D., of the National Audubon Society's Living Oceans Program.

A. Mackerel-OK, Shark-NOT
It's okay to eat mackerel. Mackerels are related to tunas and found worldwide in warm and temperate seas. Most mackerels are quite abundant, but the king mackerel is overfished in the Gulf of Mexico. The environmental and other-species damage caused by the fishery is low to moderate.
Not to eat -- Shark. Sharks mature late in life, grow slowly, and produce few offspring. As a result, they suffer badly from intensive fishing. Sharks are often caught for shark-fin soup, and shark cartilage is exploited as an unproven food supplement. Populations are declining and most species on the U.S. East Coast are overfished and depleted. High fishery damage - the use of longlines or gill nets also catch unwanted fish, turtles and marine mammals. Many sharks are killed just for their fins, then dumped, often still alive!

B. Squid-OK, Shrimp-NOT
Okay to eat Squid. Many species exist worldwide, in various habitats. Squids are generally abundant, because they mature quickly. Squid fisheries are well-managed off the U.S. East Coast but lack of management off the West Coast is raising concerns. Fishery damage is low to moderate. Some commercial squid fisheries use nets; others, hook and line. New methods can reduce bycatch because fish behave differently from squid when encountering nets.
Definitely not, to eat Shrimp. A wide variety are found all over the world. About half are farmed, mostly in the tropics, but that's no help - Shrimp farms pollute and destroy habitat. Management is generally poor in the U.S., and even worse in many other countries. Fishery damage is the highest of any fishery in the world. For every pound of shrimp you buy, an average of seven pounds of other sea life was killed and shoveled overboard. Trap-caught West Coast spot prawns are a rare exception.

C. Striped bass-OK, Cod, Haddock, etc.-NOT
It's okay to eat Striped bass, which are now abundant, after severe depletion in the 1980s. Over half of all fish sold are farmed. Striped bass farms tend to be relatively benign, because they grow the fish in tanks, where water pollution is controllable and the fish can't escape. Fishery management is good and this is a great success story, achieved through fishery closures, lower catch limits, and increased protection of juveniles.
Not to eat -- Atlantic cod, haddock, and other Atlantic groundfishes. These species are mainly caught off Newfoundland, New England, and Europe. After decades of overfishing and mismanagement, their collapse probably ranks as the world's greatest fishery-management disaster. Fishery damage is high. The bottom-trawl nets used sometimes entail the highest rates of bycatch of any fishery, other than shrimping. The nets also scour the seabed, which degrades the habitat, lowering the potential for recovery.

D. Crabs-OK, Swordfish-NOT
Okay to eat -- Crab. Though crab populations are generally in good shape, they are suffering from pollution in certain regions. Alaska king crabs are overfished. Management is mostly good, particularly for Dungeness crabs, but poor for Alaska king crabs. Low fishery damage for most species, but avoid the king and tanner crab from the Bering Sea because of a high bycatch.
Not to eat -- Swordfish, marlin. Their impressive size, sleek appearance, and superb hunting skills make these billfishes perhaps the most spectacular sea fishes. Overfished and depleted in the Atlantic, their status is unknown in most of the Pacific. Atlantic marlins may not legally be sold in the U.S., although that has not stopped their decline. Fishery damage is high. Most swordfish and marlins are caught with longlines, which bear thousands of hooks, or in drift nets. Both methods take high numbers of juveniles, sharks, turtles, and some marine mammals.

Species to be particular about

A. Scallops -- Two varieties are usually sold: sea scallops, which are from deeper waters, and bay scallops, from shallow East Coast estuaries. Some are farmed. Atlantic sea scallops are overfished and depleted. Bay scallops are having trouble with harmful algal blooms. Management is generally poor. Fishery damage is high. Dredging for scallops takes many other species and severely disrupts habitat on the ocean's bottom. But you're okay if you ask for farmed scallops, which are grown indoors.

B. Salmon -- Nearly all salmon hatch in rivers and grow in the sea, then return to the river to spawn. They are native only to the Northern Hemisphere but have been introduced to South America, New Zealand, and the Great Lakes. Nearly half of all salmon sold is farmed. The populations are healthy in Alaska, but most wild salmon elsewhere are in severe trouble. Several salmon populations are listed as endangered, and many are extinct. Salmon are most at risk not from fishers -- who are the chief economic force behind their protection -- but from logging, agriculture, and dams. Salmon farming pollutes, displaces wild fish, and prompts the shooting of predatory seals near the salmon farms. Eat only wild Alaska salmon.

C. Tuna -- bluefin, bigeye, yellowfin, albacore, skipjack. Almost all large bluefins are shipped to Japan for sushi. There, bluefins are often worth $10,000 to $20,000 each (the record is $80,000), making them one of the world's most valuable animals. Bluefins are severely overfished. Canned "white tuna" is albacore; "chunk light" is yellowfin or skipjack. Bigeyes, yellowfins, and albacores are declining in some regions. Skipjack populations are still large. Make sure you buy skipjack tuna. Fishery management is mostly poor and damage is moderate. Tunas sold in the U.S. must be "dolphin-safe" (no dolphins killed), but many dolphin-safe netting methods catch juvenile tunas and unwanted species. Bigeyes and Atlantic yellowfins are often taken on high-bycatch longlines. Troll-caught tuna is OK.

D. Snapper -- A very large, widely distributed group from the tropics or subtropics. The two best known are yellowtail snapper and red snapper. Red snapper is depleted. The status of yellowtail snapper is unknown, but it is probably in fair shape. Fisheries are unmonitored in most countries. Management in the U.S. is generally poor. Red snapper is overfished in the U.S., primarily because shrimp nets kill billions of juveniles. Fishing for snappers entails significant bycatch of juveniles and nontargeted species. Best to avoid.

E. Lobsters -- two types: American, or "Maine," and various spiny lobster species. Relatively slow growth and late maturation leave lobsters vulnerable to heavy fishing pressure. American lobsters are overfished, though not depleted. Spiny lobsters are overfished in many parts of the tropics. Intense fishing pressure takes nearly all American lobsters as soon as they attain legal size, leaving the species vulnerable to one bad year of reproduction. But fishery damage is low. Most American lobsters are caught in habitat-friendly, low-bycatch traps.

Make a note of what fish to eat and what fish not to eat. Conservation is often thought of as something government or large groups must do. Here is something you can do at every meal.

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