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A healthy seafood dinner isn't what it used to be

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Sooner or later I knew I had to face it: contamination of our oceans is at a stage where experts have begun to advise us against seafood. This is a blow to me because I have already been eating less meat, but it is a matter of health at this stage.

The website that I appreciate very much, Prevention.com, ran an article that was nice and succinct: fish that you should not eat. They gave us a list of those fish and why, which I am passing along.

The two major problems associated with seafood are pollution and overfishing. Dumping into the ocean has contaminated fish with mercury, which is known to be a deadly substance. Overfishing is exhausting certain species of fish, and I have known about it for years because my husband used to be a commercial-fishing crew member. The men our age have been observing the depletion of fish for a long time, and certain areas such as the west coast of South America are known to be almost devoid of fish, compared to several years ago.

A secondary part of the problem is mismanagement, in that government agencies and scientific groups sometimes give in to the temptation to "get mine" before the fishing industry collapses completely. But when it does, there will be a price to pay when the general public becomes fully aware of the grim consequences of heedless fishing and weak government oversight.

Therefore, if you want to help out there are seafood products you should not buy. Here is the list:

Imported catfish: they are frequently contaminated with mercury and hormones.

Caviar: because caviar requires a certain level of maturity in the fish, the danger of overfishing it is extreme.

Atlantic Cod: if you like cod, you will be fine if you buy Pacific Cod and hope that the Atlantic species will have a chance to replenish before they disappear.

American eels: used frequently in sushi, American eel can be polluted and also is not always what it is labeled to be.

Imported shrimp: these are the most contaminated of all seafood. Buy wild-caught or American-farmed shrimp at all times.

Atlantic flatfish: sole and its relatives are no longer desirable and are also greatly overfished.

Atlantic salmon: buy Pacific salmon, for the same reason as Pacific Cod.

Imported King Crab: this is another seafood that is frequently mislabeled, because there is some confusion among importers as to what to call it. Be sure you get what you pay for.

Shark: do not buy any form of shark; it is the most cruelly fished of all marine life and is likely to be contaminated with mercury as well.

Atlantic Bluefin Tuna: this fish is nearing extinction from overfishing, and it is likely to be the most highly-contaminated of all ocean fish (with mercury).

Chilean Sea Bass: stupid companies are over-harvesting sea bass into extinction because of its reputation as a delicacy. If you would like to have sea bass in a generation or so, give it a rest. Let's hope the fishing companies see it that way, and let's hope that the mercury levels go down as well.

Another thing you should do is read the labels on your canned tuna. If it is Atlantic Bluefin, don't buy it. You will find that there are several kinds to choose from, and by the way, get it packed in water rather than oil.

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