The seafood diet dillema [Archive] - Fly Fishing Forum

: The seafood diet dillema

08-21-2006, 11:08 AM
Although I am no expert in this area, I am an avid eater of seafood.

I know the oceans are the target of most of our liquid wastes and that the food chain concentrates contaminants from the microscopic to the predators we eat, but this is the most alarming advisory I have seen yet...


08-21-2006, 01:46 PM
Quite aware of most of the data. For several years now, our only supply of salmon come from a commercial fisherman I know in Alaska. At the beginning of the season he sends me two copper river kings . . . via FedEx. They're immediately scaled, filleted, cut into our portion sizes, vac sealed and frozen. It's our entire year's supply of salmon. Being vac sealed, it lasts an entire year. The fish are amazing and come from the wonderfully regulated sustainable Alaska fishery. We eat virtually no farm-raised salmon . . . even in restaurants.

Other fish we eat are Mahi Mahi, halibut and sablefish. Guilty pleasures are the rare grouper and cod. As sushi, I do love saba (king mackerel). We eat tuna (but not bluefin . . . see "Song of the Blue Ocean" by Carl Safina). Haven't had swordfish in years.

We're big consumers of seafood. Also, I might add, we eat shrimp, clams, oysters and lobster. And we're careful where most of it comes from.

Yes, it's absolutely depressing.

08-21-2006, 05:06 PM
We eat virtually no farm-raised salmon . . . even in restaurants.

So this brings up a big dilema with me.

Farm Raised Fish,

Raised in a pen, Escapement, Disease to wild stocks, Atlantic Salmon in the pacific :eek: Hormones Etc.

Wild Fish.

Bi-Catch! via long lining and netting.

With all of this what should one do? :Eyecrazy:

I truly do want a renewable resource with the fish I love to eat. I have yet to find a method that truly fullfills my ethical standards. What is everyone elses ideas on this?


08-21-2006, 06:03 PM
The copper river king salmon that we eat are wild. But . . . the Alaskan fishery is so well regulated as a sustainable fishery that I see absolutely no harm in it. Except for the ever-increasing price because it is a limited resource managed to be sustainable. A price I'm willing to pay. I'm not aware of a bi-catch problem with the fishery. If there is one, please let me know.

08-21-2006, 06:25 PM

I'm sorry that I can't quote the exact figures or articles about the bi-catch. I do remember that there was a long discussion on another board last year about the issue of bi-catch. When commercial vessels fish for salmon and other fisheries they use either nets (lots of bi-catch), or long lines. Long lines if you haven't already heard of them are just what they say. Very long lines (several miles), strung with hooks in designated distances. The boat will troll around the ocean and then pull in the lines from time to time. Well as we all know you don't always catch the fish both size and species that you want. This leads to you guessed it, bi-catch. About the only way to eliminate leathal bi-catch is to man each line with a fisherman and a rod on the other end (C&R for non-targeted species). I will do some research on the exact numbers and references and post them on this site.


The copper river king salmon that we eat are wild. But . . . the Alaskan fishery is so well regulated as a sustainable fishery that I see absolutely no harm in it. Except for the ever-increasing price because it is a limited resource managed to be sustainable. A price I'm willing to pay. I'm not aware of a bi-catch problem with the fishery. If there is one, please let me know.

08-21-2006, 07:06 PM

You've been given some erroneous information about commercial salmon fishing methods. Salmon are not fished for with longlines. The Copper River Fish that wrke mentions are caught using gillnets. There is relatively little bycatch and most of it is other salmon species. The other method that employs nets is purse seining.

As far as your idea of manning the lines with a fisherman, that's already done -it's called trolling. Troll-caught fish are caught in this fashion, some of the very small boats even use a rod and reel (up to four) but most use several baits attached to a wire line similar to the downriggers employed by sportsfisherman. Bycatch is simply removed when the fisherman "shakes" the non-targeted species as the line brought in. This method results in the highest quality fish of all methods as each fish is handled and cared for individually.

08-21-2006, 08:38 PM
I watched purse seiners operating off the BC coast east of the Bonilla / Tatoosh line often as we crossed to Swiftsure and they would take schools of salmonids in their sets for the most part (with occasional mackeral, pollock, dogfish, etc). These were targeting migrating salmon running the top column in 600-1000 ft of water in open straits with strong ocean currents and the by-catch was fairly low I'm sure although I did see sea lions feasting around the fleet.

The gillnets are set in rivers and although the mesh size controls the fish size effectively they do have the unfortunate side-effect of killing steelhead when the net seasons coincide with steelhead runs. I am sure steelhead end up in the seines on occasion as well but I would imagine it rare the way the Canadian fleet was targeting the shipping lanes. I don't want to express too much of my own opinion here but I found it hard to see that much silver being pulled from the sea no matter what the legalities.

All that being said, Costco has a very good source of wild pacific salmon and gets it to me here on the east coast so fast and fresh I can't hardly stop buying it this time of year. When they arrive in the round the eyes are clear, the scales are tight and the meat is cherry red and firm. I have a full filet in the fridge as we speak, destined for the grill. It does strike me as being a late year though - I seem to recall them being this fresh in July not mid-August most years.

I also like canned sockeye which is excellent way to enjoy wild pacific salmon year-round in salads with slivered almonds and a vingarette dressing over salad, or just out of the can with a little seasoning.

08-22-2006, 12:00 AM
Here in Western New York the fish fry, often beer batter dipped, is immensely popular. We're told haddock is the fish we most often eat in this regard. I hear of no negative advisories regarding this consumption and haddock did not appear on the chart Juro presented. What am I missing here? I eat 2-3 fish frys a month and have never seen info advising against this.

08-22-2006, 08:16 AM
Other sections state that the deepwater atlantic cod does not warrant a health advisory, but the exploitation of the species puts it on a WORST eco status.

I would assume that the haddock is in the same category for safe consumption, however the frying oil might getcha ;)

08-24-2006, 06:39 AM

Thank you for correcting me. I tried to do some research on the subject online and only found charters (commercial interests). On the subject of gill netting. I would have to say that I am completely oppossed to it. I do not feel that there is any way that one can control what they catch in a net, unless it was thrown into the water and immediatly removed. The trolling sounds to me to be the most ethical form of commercial fishing. I would pay more for my fish if I knew it came from this source.

08-24-2006, 09:23 AM
Actually the best way I can think of to harvest anadramous species is the fish trap in the river.

The fish stay alive until the wild ones can be released to continue upriver. Gillnets and trolling causes unnecessary damage to undersized and wild fish, and it's not possible to target healthy runs verses threatened until you get to the river itself.

08-24-2006, 05:04 PM

Ok now that that is out of the way. I personally think that if anything the anadromous fishing industry is not regulated enough. I feel that sport fishing for steelhead and salmon should be cut way back. I know that this completely shoot my own foot off but I am willing to go two maybe three years without setting foot on the Queets, Hoh, Snake, Umqua, Skagit rivers. It amazes me that the same sportsmen that love to go out and spend hours chasing an elusive silver ghost are the same men that whine when a river is closed for a period of recovery. I feel that if we limit the number of rods on a river per day, and move completely to C&R, our grandchildren will be able to enjoy this wonderful resource.

Second, now this is where the flame war begins. I prefice with the fact that I am a registered Suquamish indian. I feel that the native american fishing rights treaties need to be revisited and modified to cutt back on netting the rivers. This would allow more fish to return and spawn. If we teach our young warriars to guide fishing instead of net fish they can keep up their income and haritage.

Third, if it is decided that fishing on a certain system has to stop completely I would be the first in line to hang my rod up. I feel that we have depleted our fish stocks in some systems to the point that it will take years of no pressure to possibly bring them back to a fraction of what they once were.

08-28-2006, 12:43 PM
Juro -
Scary stuff -
I watch pretty closely which fish I consume - most of salmon that I eat are those that feed lower on the food chain - sockeye, pinks, and Puget Sound resident coho (their diet is most euphausids). The other fish that I consume fair amout of are ling cod from non-idustrial areas (Whidbey Island and points east and north). At my age not sure what I eat makes a big difference but do worry about the grandkids

wrke -
Hate to rain on your parade but the information I have seen indicates that your Copper river kings are similar to farmed Atlantic salmon as far as PCBs etc goes. The amount of those contaminants that a fish accummulates is dependent on where on the food chain it feeds and how long it does so. The longer lived fish eaters have more contaminants than younger fish feeding feeding lower on the food chain. The Copper kings tend to be older fish (5 and 6 years old) that are mostly fish eaters.

Tight lines

08-28-2006, 03:23 PM
Thanks for the info on Copper River kings. If possible, I'd like to know your source. Of course, I'm aware that the older the fish, the more contaminents can be accumulated that's welll documented. One of the reasons we also consume the smaller (and younger) guys, as well (herring, whitebait, sardines, etc.) Do you think age is the main factor in Alaska kings, no matter their region, or have you found this to be true specifically in Copper River fish?

08-28-2006, 04:46 PM
wrke -
I didn't bookmark the reference but here is a report in the popular press (beware it is from the fish farm industry source) that reports much the same-

There was much to do in the press about the commerically farmed Atlantic salmon having higher concentrations than wild fish. While that was true what was neglected to be mentioned that the majority of the wild fish tested for the comparison were chum salmon - a fish that feeds much lower on the food chain. With a little research you will find that wild chinook from Puget Sound concnetrations as as high or higher than the farmed fish. The resident blackmouth (immature chinook) in Puget Sound are even higher. Most chinook tested from BC or the coast were up there with the farmed fish. Generally the worst chinook were those that were oldest and had the highest fat content ala the Copper fish. I believe that while sockeye usually have lower PCB levels the Copper fish are right up there with the chinook.

As always a complicated issue with the real truth hard to ferret out when parties have an economic interest the process.

Tight lines

08-28-2006, 05:38 PM
Thanks Curt,

I was aware that, having a greater fat content, Chinook carry the highest concentrations of toxins . . . especially in older fish. Also, I know that there's much contradiction in current reports. I agree that it can be "spun" in many ways.

See the chart in the following report:

Here, Alaskan chinook have higher concentrations than other Alaskan salmon, but their concentrations are far, far lower than all of the salmon tested here — farmed and wild. And see that the concentrations are highest of all in BC chinook.

In light of what they wrote, I wonder what the Washington Fish Growers would think of this report.

I completely agree, it's difficult to ferret out the truth.