The controversy about whether or not to eat seafood is back in the news again this week, with two studies concluding that the health benefits outweigh the toxic liabilities. This time, scientists aren’t denying that fish contain mercury and other contaminants. Instead, they have placed specific fish into two lists of safe and unsafe (i.e. tolerable and intolerable) levels, insisting that fish from the safe list are acceptable, especially if limited to two servings per week. You can view the list at: http://www.mercextra.com/multimedia/news/seafood.pdf
One scientist is quoted as saying that, “Mercury is really only a risk to developing fetuses and infants.” Yet pregnant or lactating women and children under twelve are advised to eat no more than two 3-ounce servings per week. In addition, women, nursing mothers and toddlers are advised to eat no more than 6 ounces of albacore tuna per week precisely because it contains “moderate” levels of mercury. (Not mentioned in the recent news articles are the cases of ADD and ADHD in children under age twelve who consume more than this amount of canned tuna).
Downplaying the impact of mercury, PBCs and other contaminants, while proclaiming the health benefits (high in protein, low in saturated fat, rich in Omega-3 fatty acids) has additional possible consequences. Environmentalists are concerned that this will encourage people to eat more fish while remaining unaware of the ecological impacts of fish farming. Fish farms generate sewage that negatively impacts inlets and bays. Although farmed fish are often given antibiotics, they can become sick and infect wild fish passing by. In addition, many are fed fish meal made from wild fish, further depleting fish populations.
To keep up on the many issues related to fish consumption, Seafood Watch provides is a great resource. Check it out at: http://www.mbayaq.org/cr/cr_seafoodwatch/sfw_aboutsfw.asp