A Fish Tale

There was a nice article in the New York Times a few weeks ago by noted science and nutrition writer Jane Brody titled “Lots of Reasons to Eat Fish.”   I don’t want to paraphrase her entire piece but suffice to say she strongly advocates the health benefits of seafood in our diet.   The scientific evidence in support of seafood consumption is well documented and goes back many years.   My personal contribution to this body of evidence can be found in The New England Journal of Medicine, May 9, 1985 page 1216.  The study had the tongue twisting title “Reduction of Plasma Lipids, Lipoproteins, and Apoproteins by Dietary Fish Oils in Patients with Hypertriglyceridemia.”   Bottom line, a diet rich in fish oil can reduce blood plasma cholesterol and triglycerides.  As this research was beginning I was contacted and asked if my company would contribute fresh salmon that would be served to test subjects.   We did that for a year and I forgot about the research until my name popped up in the Journal article.   One person called me and asked if we sold salmon oil by the barrel!

I recognize that not everyone likes seafood for any number of reasons.  Sharon and I love seafood.  We love to cook it and we love to eat it.  All kinds of seafood.  Our favorites include salmon, shrimp, petrale sole, halibut, black cod, mussels and the list goes on.  We firmly believe our good health reflects our passion for seafood. The sheer variety of seafood is an adventure in itself.  Despite some negative publicity in the past I believe farmed seafood is not only safe to eat but is now produced in large measure using environmentally compatible methods.

Having been in the seafood industry for over 40 years, and an industry consultant for 30 plus years, I am often asked questions about seafood issues.  Over the past ten years I have become a strong advocate for sustainable seafood, meaning our fishing practices and regulations are such that we are not depleting resources needed to reproduce future populations.   Attention must also be paid to destructive fishing practices that damage the environment.   In my earlier days I confess I once went out with a group of Asian fishermen who were using explosives to stun fish then scoop them up with a net.  Very destructive (and dangerous).

A fish story that is good news to those of us in the Northwest that love seafood; Marine scientists at the Monterey Bay Aquarium recently upgraded their rating of 21 species of coastal bottom fish (rockfish, lingcod, sole and flounder) to “good” or “best” from the previous rating of “avoid.”  Many of the species upgraded were deemed by the federal government on the mid-1990s and early 2000s as seriously overfished and at risk of extinction.  Dramatic cuts in fishing quotas and changes in regulations ultimately resulted in these fisheries recovering.

Bottom line seafood is good for you.  Eat it with a clear conscience and a healthy heart.

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