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3 Tips for Picking the Best Fish to Eat

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A fishing sign in at one of the dry pools at the Quivira National Wildlife Refuge in HudsonOverfishing and pollution caused by the fishing industry have made it almost impossible to enjoy a salmon filet without feelings of guilt.

However, the undeniable health benefits of eating fish make it an important part of a healthy diet. By carefully considering the types of fish you choose to eat, however, you can enjoy seafood while making a minimal impact on the environment. Below are three tips to help you choose:

1. Eat Prey, but Leave the Predators Alone for Now

Fish that are low on the food chain are typically plentiful and go through their life cycle quickly. Larger fish, such as salmon and tuna, are experiencing significantly reduced populations because of overfishing. Additionally, these fish live longer and so have more time to accumulate harmful heavy metals like mercury. Shellfish, anchovies, sardines and mackerel are examples of fish that are low on the food chain.

2. Choose Fish that Eat Sustainably, Too

Fish farms can cause plenty of pollution and have other harmful environmental affects. However, some fish use plankton as a food source. These tiny organisms are abundant in the water, so farmers do not need to provide feed. This makes the operation much more environmentally friendly. Bivalves and shellfish are farmed this way, so choose mussels or oysters for a sustainable meal.

3. Choose Fish That Have Been Caught Under US Guidelines

Even though they are not perfect, the United States does have some of the best regulations when it comes to fishing. Choosing the right fish is especially difficult because the country in which it was caught is just as important as the type of fish. For instance, imported mahimahi is less sustainably caught than US mahimahi.

Check out Seafood Watch for more information on specific fish and regional information.

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