[CA] Stay Away from Fish and Fish Oil
The Canada Earthsaver November/December 2007
By Dave Steele
We're getting a lot of bad advice these days. It's all over the news. 'Fish
is good for us.' 'To be healthy, eat fatty fish at least twice a week.'
As far as it goes, it's true. Fish are chock full of something we really
need, the long chain omega 3 fatty acids DHA and EPA. Every cell needs these
nutrients, especially those in our eyes and in our brains. Consuming these
oils dramatically reduces our chances of developing heart disease, too.
But, you're not hearing the whole story. Two very important facts have been
left unreported. First, the oceans most definitely cannot supply sufficient
omega 3's for us all, not from fish anyway. It takes at least 100 lbs of
fish to produce a liter of fish oil. If we increase fishing to meet the
demand, it won't be long until there are practically no fish left. Second,
all of these news reports are failing to note something else. We do not need
to eat fish to get our omega 3's. We can easily get them elsewhere.
Four years ago, scientists from Dalhousie University published a seminal
paper in the world's most prestigious scientific journal, Nature. The
scientists presented compelling evidence that the world's large fish
populations - tuna, cod and swordfish; halibut, flounder, and shark, etc. -
had fallen more than 90% in the previous 50 years.
Ransom Myers, the study's lead author reported: "Since 1950, with the onset
of industrialized fisheries, we have rapidly reduced the resource base to
less than 10 percent-not just in some areas, not just for some stocks, but
for entire communities of these large fish species from the tropics to the
In the same paper, the authors predict that the oceans will be, for all
practical purposes, empty by 2050. Another paper, published last year, puts
an upper limit of 40 years on the time we have before essentially all fish
are gone. That is, unless we drastically curtail our 'harvests.' And we've
started to. Sort of - but not intentionally. Fishing is as intense as ever,
but catches have fallen. They peaked at 96 million tons in 2000 and were
down to 90 million tons in 2003, the most recent year for which worldwide
data are available.
The good news is that no animal - not fish, not bird, not mammal -
manufactures its own omega 3 fatty acids. Whatever they have, they got from
what they ate. Fish get theirs from algae, i.e., from microscopic
single-celled plants. That's where we should get ours from, too. It's not
hard. An English company, Water4Life, makes it easy. Their V-Pure supplement
provides the purest possible DHA and EPA. It's free of the mercury and
dioxins that so frequently contaminate fish and fish derivatives and, even
better, the algae are grown in fermenters. The oceans are not mined for
What about farmed fish? Salmon is high in DHA and EPA. Well, yes it is. But
salmon are predators and it takes at least 3 pounds of ocean caught fish to
produce a pound of farmed salmon. That's certainly not sustainable. And many
studies have shown that sea lice originating in BC's salmon farms are wiping
out the young of their wild, free brethren. Do you want to be a part of
Shrimp? They contain small amounts of DHA and EPA, but not much. Considering
that shrimp fishing is among the most destructive in the world and that
modern shrimp farms have proven an ecological disaster for South-east Asia,
shrimp should be avoided too. As the BBC reports, shrimp farming 'is
destroying wetlands, polluting the land and oceans and depleting wild fish
So, forget the fish oil. Supplement your diet with an algal extract instead.
It'll do all that fish oil can do for you and you won't be contributing to
the decimation of the world's oceans. It's just plain the right thing to do.
V-Pure is available online from Water4Life (http://www.water4.net/
<http://www.water4.net/> ) or from Vegan Essentials
(http://www.veganessentials.com/ <http://www.veganessentials.com/> ). Short
chain omega 3 fatty acids are available in other foods as well, notably flax
oil, walnuts and tofu. Because our bodies are not so good at converting
these to the more beneficial EPA and DHA, products like V-pure are probably
the better way to go.
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