By Theresa Ficazzola There are many threats to our planet and our environment—those on land, in our air and in our water—and they consist of things we can see and those we can’t see. The circle of life and the delicate balance of our ecosystems are all connected. That means if one piece of that intricate puzzle is impacted or threatened, the trickle effect to the other areas is almost inevitable.
While much has been written about the environmental impact to our land and air, not as much has been written about our oceans and the many species that live there, including the fish we eat.
Health Benefits of Fish
Fish is a healthy protein alternative to red meat that contains many vitamins and nutrients which are good for our bodies. Plus, fish and shellfish are easily digestible. Most fish is low in fat, rich in omega-3 fatty acids, and contains vitamins A and D, phosphorus, magnesium, and selenium, which are all extremely beneficial for a healthy lifestyle.
According to the Environmental Defense Fund, the omega-3s found in fish (EPA and DHA) seem to have the most health benefits. Some examples of fish that are high in omega-3s, contain low environmental contaminants, and are eco-friendly include:
- wild salmon from Alaska (fresh, frozen and canned)
- Arctic char
- Atlantic mackerel
- farmed rainbow trout
- albacore tuna from the U.S. and Canada
According to the Center for Health and the Global Environment at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, seafood provides more protein than cattle, sheep, or poultry and more than 3.5 billion people globally depend on the ocean for their primary source of food.
That’s a lot of people to feed and a lot of fish to be caught and eaten. However, according to the Center, current research estimates that most commercial marine fisheries are being fished unsustainably. Some species are fished so extensively that many will not be viable by 2030 if we continue to overfish. In the U.S., we have to import over 80% of our fish because of the limited supply in our waters. Overfishing also impacts coastal fishing communities and the economies that rely on fish for their existence.
The threat to our fish supply extends beyond just overfishing. Pollution from coal, mercury, pesticides and plastics has contaminated oceans and rivers, which in turn have contaminated our fish. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration and Environmental Protection Agency have recommended that women of childbearing age, pregnant women, and breastfeeding mothers limit their intake of fish, and avoid all consumption of some types of fish high in mercury, such as Swordfish, King Mackerel, or Tile fish.
However, many doctors and health care experts believe that the benefits of eating healthy, including ingesting safe amounts of fish, far outweigh the risks. The bigger challenge is having a sufficient supply of fish to meet the growing global demand. Hopefully, with the help of international organizations committed to our planet, we can continue to keep our oceans stocked with fresh fish.
The MSC Helps to Safeguard Seafood Supplies
For example, the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) is an international non-profit organization established to address the problem of unsustainable fishing and safeguard seafood supplies for the future. They recognize sustainable fishing practices and award those fisheries that abide by certain guidelines with a blue MSC label on their catches. The label certifies that the fish was caught by a company that cares for our environment, is working to limit its catches to reduce overfishing, and protects habitats and ecosystems.
So, the next time you purchase fish, look for the MSC label, or ask the restaurant if the fish they are serving came from an MSC certified fishery. You’ll be helping to ensure our oceans and rivers have a sufficient amount of healthy fish to feed current and future generations.
Solar Energy Also Helps Protect the Planet
Another way you can help protect our planet is by limiting your use of fossil fuels. One of the easiest ways to accomplish this is by installing solar panels on your home. Solar energy is safe, reliable and inexpensive to produce because the sun is free. To see if your home qualifies for solar and how you can enjoy the benefits of solar energy for $0 out of pocket, contact SI Solar today for a no obligation consultation.