Fishing Frenzy: finding the right seafood for dinner

Explore the mercury content, omega-3 fatty acid benefits, and ecological impact of eating different fish.

September 12, 2008

(See a larger version of the interactive by clicking HERE.)

Our planet’s oceans are in peril. Fish populations are collapsing from decades of overfishing. Some researchers estimate that there will be no seafood left in just 30 years.

Climate change is touching the seas, too. Rising water temperatures and acidification from dissolved carbon dioxide are already threatening delicate coral ecosystems, and fish may be next.

Suggested solutions range from the extreme (dumping iron or calcium carbonate into the sea) to the ordinary (cutting back on fishing quotas). And here we are in the middle of this, the bewildered shoppers wandering around the grocery store, unsure of which fish to eat.

Wild fish. Farmed fish. Line-caught fish. Rod-and-reel fish. Mercury-tainted fish and rich-in-beneficial-omega-3-oil fish. Amid conflicting and confusing advice, it is hard to decide what to bake, broil or stew for dinner. This interactive examines some popular seafood choices, combining data from the Monterey Bay Aquarium Foundation, the FDA and the USDA. Bon appetit.
Investigate a fish yourself: sustainability, mercury and nutrition.
Also on Scienceline:
Breeding the overfished bluefin tuna

Does organic seafood live up to its label?

Brooklyn’s very own fish farm

Why you don’t want to eat New York City’s oysters

About the Author

Susannah F. Locke

Susannah Locke holds a B.S. from Haverford College, where she studied molecular biology and psychology and ran the college’s literary magazine. For two years following graduation she played with neurons as a research technician at the University of Pennsylvania and The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. After using almost every type of test tube on the market for every conceivable purpose, she removed her gloves to become a journalist and improve the public’s understanding of science.


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