If you care about human health and the health of the planet, you need to get informed about omega-3s. You probably know that omega-3 fish oil supplements are recommended for preventing and managing heart disease and inflammation in the body. As Paul Greenberg, author of The Omega Principle points out: omega-3s are now the most commonly consumed supplement out there. It’s a multibillion-dollar industry.
How we get that omega-3 fish oil out of the ocean and into a capsule is sobering. Harvesting omega-3 rich creatures for supplements and medicine is a small part of a giant reduction industry that “reduces,” or boils down fish into oil. One in every four fish caught on earth is “reduced” into oil and meal for agricultural and industrial purposes, consuming millions of tons of marine wildlife every year.
So what do we do? Do we stop consuming omega-3s because the reduction industry is harming marine ecosystems? Not necessarily. There are alternatives, like fish oil supplements that do not derive from fish caught specifically for reduction (see: Pure Alaska Omega Salmon Oil and Wiley’s Finest), and plant-based omega-3 supplements sourced from microalgae plants. Furthermore, you could try adding even more seeds and leafy greens to your diet.
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Or, you can get your omega-3s the old-fashioned way: by eating seafood. But above all, you need to know what you’re doing. Becky Selengut, chef, seafood advocate and author of Good Fish: 100 Sustainable Seafood Recipes from the Pacific Coast has created “Good Fish” Rules for you to keep in mind.
F: Farmed can be OK (verify that it is done responsibly).
I: Investigate your source (ask questions; support good chefs, fishmongers, and markets).
S: Smaller is better (limit portion size; eat smaller fish, like sardines and young albacore).
H: Home (buy Pacific Coast fish because the United States has high sustainability standards for fishers, your money supports the US economy, and you help the environment by not eating seafood that’s been shipped from around the world.)
To help you on your journey toward eating more responsibly, we’re sharing this list from Becky Selengut of sustainable, Pacific Coast seafood that will nourish your body without harming our oceans.
1. Clams / Mussels / Oysters
An especially sustainable choice because, whether they are wild or farmed, they act as filter feeders, improving ocean water quality. Nutritionally, they’re high in vitamin B12, iron, and calcium. One oyster contains 370 milligrams of omega-3 fatty acids.
2. Dungeness Crab
The Dungeness crab fishery is well managed and abundant up and down the coast, from California to Alaska.
United States-caught shrimp from the Pacific Ocean are well managed, sustainable, and abundant. The pink shrimp fishery, in particular, has done a great job of reducing bycatch. The use of LED lights on the front of the net has reduced bycatch by 90 percent. Finfish see the lights and swim away. Pink shrimp go toward the light (and into the net).
Like other farmed shellfish, scallops depend on clean waters to thrive, and as a result, shellfish farmers are often at the forefront of clean water advocacy initiatives. Look for both farmed and wild Pacific Coast scallops, especially weathervane scallops from Alaska.
Good management of this fishery is crucial because squid is a very important link in the food chain. Like sardines and anchovies, they are food for sea lions, salmon, dolphins, whales, and seabirds. The California fishery is well managed by the state.
The health of Alaskan salmon stocks is a testament to good management practices, beginning in the mid-19th century when Alaska first began regulating the salmon industry.
7. Pacific Halibut
In Alaska, Washing, Oregon, California, and British Columbia, Pacific halibut is managed by the International Halibut Commission, recognized as one of the best-managed fisheries in the world.
8. Black Cod
This fish can be found from California up to Alaska, with most of the catch coming from Alaska. Black cod fish are caught with bottom long-lines and pots, which are selective fishing gear types that limit bycatch.
9. Rainbow Trout
Native to the Pacific Northwest, most trout we consume now is farmed. Three-quarters of all farmed trout sold in the U.S. is produced in Idaho, with strict sustainable practices regarding pesticides, antibiotics, etc.
10. Albacore Tuna
Seek out Pacific Coast troll (or pole)-caught and line-caught albacore tuna.
A resilient fish that shows all signs of being able to withstand fishing pressure.
Although all the fish on this list are regarded as nutritious, sustainable choices, make sure to eat a variety of fish, so your personal appetite’s impact is spread over a whole ocean of delicious seafood.
Photo by Caroline Attwood on Unsplash