Eating fish – you should definitely pay attention to that

Eating fish - you should definitely pay attention to that

If you want to eat fish, there are a few things you should be aware of: from overfished species to pollution and aqualtures – we will explain what you should know.

Fish is considered healthy and delicious. For many of us, it doesn’t only come to the table on Fridays. When we search for information about fish on the Internet, however, the enjoyment is quickly over: many species are overfished, there are always reports of pollutants in fish, aquaculture is also no alternative and so on. So we have to do it completely do without fish? No, but there are a few things to consider. In the following you will get an overview of what you have to consider when you want to eat fish.

Eat fish sustainably – without overfishing

What fish to eat? Greenpeace only recommends the carp without restrictions. (Photo: CC0 / Pixabay / KIMDAEJEUNG)

According to the World Food Organization FAO, there are now about. In which fishing areas and which species can still be fished sustainably, you and others will reveal to you and Greenpeace. Of the Greenpeace’s guide is the stricter, but unfortunately it was last updated in 2016.

According to Greenpeace, you can only do that of wild fish carp enjoy without hesitation. No wonder – the freshwater fish is not particularly popular. If anything, it is mostly eaten on holidays.

According to Greenpeace, you can eat a few other types of fish if they have been fished in certain fishing areas:

  • plaice from the Northeast Pacific
  • cod from the Northeast Atlantic and Pacific, provided it has been caught with traps, bottom longlines or lines and hooks. You’ll learn more about fishing methods in the next section.
  • coalfish from the Northeast Atlantic if it was caught with lines and hooks or surre or anchored calves.
  • Wild salmon from the Northeast or Northwest Pacific

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The list of wild fish is much longer, according to Greenpeace never eat should. This includes:

  • Alaska pollack (according to WWF, some stocks in the Northwest Pacific have recovered so far that the fish can be eaten from there)
  • rosefish
  • Hoki
  • Sea wolf, devil and tongue
  • mackerel
  • european eel

Additional information on which fish you can eat is given to you by seals for wild fish. The best known is certainly MSC, but some organic associations such as Naturland now have seals for wild fish. At the end of the article we will introduce you to the most important seals.

Wild caught fish: The method of fishing is crucial

Fishing is considered one of the gentlest fishing methods. (Photo: CC0 / Pixabay / Lekies)

With wild fish, it is not just a question of where they are caught. The "how" is also crucial. Greenpeace has one and its advantages and disadvantages. Here are some examples:

  • trawls: These bag-shaped nets, some of which are huge, are among the most popular fishing methods in deep-sea fishing. There are trawls that are dragged across the bottom and those that can fish the sea between the surface of the water and the bottom. The problem with trawls is that they are very much sometimes bycatch gives. In addition, with bottom trawls they tear open the ground and destroy coral reefs among other things.
  • gillnets: These fine-meshed nets are called this because fish get caught in them with their gills. One type of gill nets are gill nets that are set up vertically at a fixed location. In contrast to trawls, gill nets have less bycatch and less damage to the surrounding ecosystem. For this, the fish often hang in the mesh for days until the nets are caught. In contrast to control nets, drift nets float around. They are now banned because they often cause a lot of by-catch, but drift nets are still used in illegal fishing.
  • purse seines: The ring-shaped nets are placed around a school of fish to enclose them. This method is often used to catch tuna. The problem is that tuna and dolphins often go out together. Fischer is therefore happy to locate and circle dolphins. In the meantime, however, there are fixed rules that dolphins caught must be released immediately.
  • fishing: There are different types of fishing. They usually consist of a short line with a hook on which a bait is attached. Fishing is considered to be particularly gentle because bycatch can be recognized and released immediately and because ecosystems are hardly damaged.
  • Fall: Fish traps are nets, the openings of which are just large enough for the desired fish species to get in but not out again. A lot of by-catch can be avoided.

Aquaculture fish – the better alternative?

Farmed salmon are not always recommended. (Photo: CC0 / Pixabay / moreharmony)

For aquaculture farmed fish, neither endangered stocks nor bycatch are a problem. Nevertheless, unfortunately, are not the solution, since this breeding form brings its own:

  • A big problem is that the fish are often with fishmeal fed, which was made from wild fish. So the fish stocks are polluted despite aquaculture.
  • Since a lot of fish are kept in a small space in aquaculture, the bottom under them is covered with a particularly large amount of fish droppings. In addition, the fish are often treated with antibiotics. The use of chemicals pollutes the surrounding ecosystems additionally. This is especially true for farms whose water is in direct exchange with the sea water.
  • There are many fish farms for that in tropical and subtropical waters Mangrove forests have to give way, These forests are the habitats of many species and spawning grounds for many wild fish.
  • When fish break out of aquaculture, they can become rampant there Diseases transferred to wild fish. In addition, farmed fish are often kept in places where they are not at home. If they erupt, they can upset the delicate balance of ecosystems.

For these reasons, you should not eat aquaculture fish without hesitation. As in the case of wild fish, seals can also provide you with an orientation. You can get more information at the end of the article.

Eating fish is really healthy?

Predatory fish like tuna ingest various pollutants throughout their lives. (Photo: CC0 / Pixabay / WikiImages)

Fish are generally considered to be very healthy. Among other things, they contain some vitamins, minerals, lots proteins and Omega-3 fatty acids. However, fish in the water do not only remove harmless substances: there are always reports that some fish are contaminated with pollutants. Here is the most important information:

  • Most Wild fish are such that they are hardly contaminated with pollutants. Make an exception older predatory fish, for example tuna and sharks. From a certain age, however, these must be regularly checked for pollutants such as mercury, lead or cadmium. Nevertheless, you should rarely enjoy such fish and avoid them completely during pregnancy.
  • Are a special case Herring and salmon from the northern Baltic Sea: Some of them are heavily contaminated with the poison. For this reason, the fish may only be sold on the Swedish and Finnish markets and may not be exported.
  • at farmed fish there are also reports of pollution. This is probably particularly problematic ethoxyquin. It is banned almost everywhere in the food industry, but may still be added to fish meal as an additive until 2020. In 2018, both Stiftung Warentest and Öko-Test found tests on farmed salmon.
  • In recent years, reports of microplastics in the sea have repeatedly attracted attention. One has shown that over five percent of fish Microplastics in the digestive tract to have. In North Sea shrimp, 63 percent were affected. It is not yet clear whether the microplastics are harmful to humans even at these concentrations. A problem is certainly that plastic often contains harmful plasticizers and that many plastics can bind and accumulate some toxic substances very well.

Eat fish – seals offer orientation

The MSC seal: Not convincing in all points. (Photo:

  • MSC: The oldest seal for fish from sustainable wild catch is the MSC seal, which was founded in the late 1990s. MSC stands for Marine Stewardship Council. The seal was made by Unilever and WWF initiated, but operates independently, according to official information. In the meantime, over 3,000 products in Germany bear the MSC seal. The key points of the seal are that no stocks may be overfished and gentle fishing methods such as fishing or trapping must be used. Unfortunately, however, MSC makes no specifications regarding animal welfare and working conditions. In addition, a test by Stiftung Warentest showed that and MSC cannot always trace the path of its certified products.
  • Naturland (wild catch): The seal for wild fish from Naturland sets stricter rules. There are also regulations on fair working conditions here. So far there are two fishing areas with certified fish in Germany and one in Tanzania.
  • ASC: The equivalent of the MSC seal for farmed fish is the seal of the Aquaculture Stewardship Council, of which around 1000 products are now available in Germany. ASC-certified farms must be in suitable locations, the water quality must be checked regularly and the use of antibiotics should be restricted. Fish meal and GM soy as food are allowed.
  • Naturland (aquaculture): Naturland once again makes stricter rules: the fish need enough space, the surrounding ecosystems have to be protected, fish meal may only be used from the remains of edible fish, genetic engineering is not permitted. In its fish guide, Greenpeace recommends farmed fish such as trout and breeding-Pangasius only available from Naturland certified farms.

Fish stocks worldwide are shrinking – which fish can you still eat "with a clear conscience"? Trust the widespread MSC seal on fish products …

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The bottom line: Fish with the ASC and MSC seals is better than non-certified fish, but it is still not safe to eat. If possible, you should only rely on organic associations such as Naturland – even if unfortunately not many types of fish have been certified by them so far. Otherwise, the Greenpeace and WWF buying guides are a good guide.

Ultimately, it is important that you consider fish what it is: a luxury that should only occasionally land on the table. If you eat it, you can especially enjoy it.

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