top of page

Fish ~ Low mercury and sustainable versions *UPDATE*

I love my fish, and as with most things in life also love variety. There is a lot of controversy about how healthy it is to eat these day because of the toxicity in some of the oceans. Which I find really heartbreaking. I think it's key not to become fearful of what we eat but just be well informed and wise about our choices.

For most people, the level of mercury absorbed by eating fish and shellfish is not a health concern. Overall, fish and shellfish are healthy foods. They contain high-quality protein and other essential nutrients, are low in saturated fat, and contain omega-3 fatty acids, a type of essential fatty acid. A balanced diet that includes fish and shellfish can contribute to heart health, brain health, bone health, reduce inflammation, protect against many diseases and aids children's growth and development.

Nearly all fish and shellfish contain traces of mercury. But some contain high levels. Eating large amounts of these fish and shellfish can result in high levels of mercury in the human body. In a fetus or young child, this can damage the brain and nerves (nervous system).

Because of the mercury found in fish, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) advise the following people to avoid eating fish high in mercury and to eat limited amounts of fish and shellfish that are lower in mercury:

As far as sustainability for us in the UK goes, here is the latest...

“We’re suggesting that dab, hake, herring, mussels and mackerel become the new cod, haddock, salmon, prawns and tuna. By choosing from a wider range we’ll be putting far less stress on individual fisheries,” says Bernadette Clarke, MCS Good Fish Guide Programme Manager, who suggests a post-Brexit UK Top 10 which includes great tasting fish that aren’t a household name - yet.

The MCS, post Brexit, Best Choice Top 10

  • Dab, seine netted in the North Sea

  • Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) Certified hake from Cornwall

  • MSC certified herring from Irish, Celtic and North Seas, SW Ireland and Eastern English Channel

  • Mackerel, handlined in the southwest of England, and MINSA (Mackerel Industry Northern Sustainability Alliance) North East Atlantic MSC certified

  • Megrim from the Northern North Sea and West of Scotland

  • UK rope-grown mussels

  • Brown crab from Devon Inshore Potting Area, Western Channel

  • Queen scallops from the Fal Estuary, fished by traditional sail and oar method

  • Pollack handlined from the Celtic sea

  • Sole, Dover from the Western Channel

I don't get farmed salmon but buy wild Keta salmon and smoked salmon from Alaska which I buy in M&S, where I also buy my prawns.

The production of farmed salmon is increasing dramatically. Farmed salmon have a completely different diet and environment than wild salmon.

Antibiotics in farmed salmon...

Due to the high density of fish in aquaculture, farmed fish are generally more susceptible than wild fish to infections and disease. To counter this problem, antibiotics are frequently added to fish feed.

Because antibiotic use in aquaculture is not always controlled, unregulated and irresponsible use of antibiotics has been a problem in the aquaculture industry.

Antibiotic use is not only an environmental problem but also a health concern for consumers. Ingesting traces of antibiotics over the long term may cause drug resistance, a hypersensitivity to antibiotics, and even the disruption of gut flora.

Wild salmon is naturally pink due to their diet which includes astaxanthin, a reddish-orange compound found in krill and shrimp.

Farm-raised salmon, however, eat whatever farmers throw into their pen. These fish typically survive on “kibble made from a hodge-podge that might include toxic hydrogenated oil and flesh of smaller fish (e.g. herring and anchovies), corn, gluten, ground-up feathers, soybeans, chicken fat, genetically engineered yeast.” Because they aren't being fed their natural food, they get injected with dye so they can 'falsely' become the vibrant red colour.

Salmon dye chart...

Much healthier option is wild salmon. Unfortunately all local fishermen I've spoken to can't seem to get it for me but we can buy it from M&S, Tesco, Sainsbury and Morrisons.

Read more on the MCS good fish guide here.

bottom of page