Do You Know Nutrition: Sustainably-caught, wild-caught and farm-raised fish; which is best

By Phylis Canion
April 1, 2014 at midnight
Updated March 31, 2014 at 11:01 p.m.

Phylis Canion

Phylis Canion

Can you please explain the difference between "sustainably caught," "wild caught" and "farm raised" fish? I see all three listed on labels, and I am totally confused about which is the best purchase.

According to Greenpeace, a fish is sustainable if it comes from a fishery with practices that can be maintained indefinitely without reducing the species' ability to maintain its population without adversely impacting other species within the ecosystem by removing their food source, accidently killing them or damaging their physical environment.

Wild-caught fish are hatchery spawned fish - fish that have been raised from their native strain, which improves their survival rate, then released into the ocean to be caught. Farm-raised fish, the product of aquaculture, are fish raised in tanks, enclosures and controlled pens usually in lakes, ponds, rivers and sometimes, even the oceans.

Because of their compact living conditions, they tend to have more diseases, contain more toxins and artificial dyes and have more fat when compared to their wild-caught friends. The practice of farm-raised fish started as a reaction to our fishing practices that caused many fish species, such as halibut, cod, orange roughy and sea bass, to become depleted.

Of late, criticism is being raised of farm-raised fishing practices because fish are too crowded in the cages and fed too many antibiotics and growth hormones and dyes are being added to the water leaving it toxic, and the fish are being exposed to and absorbing these chemicals.

The brouhaha over farm-raised fish began in 2003, with a controversial report from the Environmental Working Group that reported farmed-raised salmon in U.S. grocery stores contained 16 times more of the potentially cancer causing polychlorinated biphenyls than their wild counterparts, according to Peter Bridson, aquaculture research manager at Monterey Bay Aquarium's Seafood Watch.

Hold on to your picket sign though; wild-caught can have broad terms like "natural flavorings." For example, wild-caught can include destructive fishing methods, such as dynamiting reefs, high seas bottom trawling and drift netting.

If you are into modern technology, you can download an app called Safe Seafood, which is most beneficial in determining the safety of sea life from abalone to wreckfish.

Thought for the week: "Seven Secrets For Success (I found the answers in my room)" Roof said: Aim high. Fan said: Be cool. Clock said: Every minute is precious. Mirror said: Reflect before you act. Window said: See the world. Calendar said: Be up-to-date. Door said: Push hard to achieve your goals.

Phylis B. Canion is a doctor of naturopathic medicine and is a certified nutritional consultant, email her at This column is for nutritional information only and is not intended to treat, diagnose or cure.



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