Nicolas Daniel’s documentary Filet-Oh-Fish is a critical look at the fish industry and it includes exclusive footage from fish factories and farms throughout the globe. A lot of people still hold a romanticized view of fishing, however, when it comes to large-scale production of food, the reality is not a bright one.
Nowadays, fisheries face a lot of serious issues that range from overfishing to chemical pollution and genetic mutation caused by exposure to toxins. The producers of the film point out that intensive farming and global pollution makes the flesh of the fish a deadly cocktail of chemicals. However, the fish business continues to bloom, partly because of the efforts of the industry to keep the modern fish farming techniques behind closed doors.
The Toxicity of Farmed Salmon
According to Kurt Oddekalv, a renowned Norwegian environmental activist, the farming of salmon is devastating for the environment and for our health. Beneath the farms of salmon across the Norwegian fjords, there is waste layer which is 15 meters high and full of bacteria, pesticides, and drugs. The sea floor has been destroyed and since the farms are in open water, the pollution is not contained.
What’s more, one salmon farm can have around 2 million salmon in a small space. This crowdedness leads to different illnesses spreading quickly among the fish. To make matters worse, pesticides are commonly used to prevent pests. So, fish is no longer a health food as farmed salmon is overly toxic!
What about Genetic Mutations?
The pesticides used to avert pests can cause changes in the DNA of the fish and trigger genetic mutations. An example of a deformed cod is shown in the movie. Oddekalv claims that around half of the farmed cod is deformed in this way and the female cod that escapes from the farms mates with wild cod, which further spreads the mutations into wild fish.
The Most Dangerous Secrets of the Fish Industry
Another problem arises from the manufacturing of the pellets. Namely, the fatty fish are first cooked and this results in two distinct products: protein meal and oil. The oil is high in dioxins and PCBs while the protein powder is mixed with ethoxyquin, a pesticide with a strictly regulated use.
It is added to fish to prevent the fats from oxidizing and going rancid. Health authorities have never been informed about the use of this chemical by the fish feed manufacturers and the effect on our health has never been determined. There is one study done by Victoria Bohne, a Norway researcher, suggesting that ethoxyquin has the capacity to cross the blood brain barrier and it may be cancerous.
Do We Eat Fish or Fish Waste?
Though fish is one of the healthiest foods in the world, due to the industrial age we are living in, we need to be extremely cautious when we purchase it. Nowadays, nothing goes to waste and fish skins are recycled for use in the cosmetics industry whereas fish waste is ground into a pulp used for pre-prepared meals and food for pets. Unfortunately, fish fraud is very common these days and according to investigations, 1 in 3 fish labels are misleading or give false information.
Safest Seafood Options
Most of fish, even wild-caught, is too polluted to be eaten frequently. This is because the main waterways in the world contain mercury, heavy metals, chemicals, and other agricultural chemicals.
However, there are exceptions, for example, wild-caught Alaskan sockeye salmon as the risk of accumulating high levels of mercury in it is lower due to its short life span of around 3 years. It also does not feed on other contaminated fish.
Another exception is smaller fish with shorter life cycles like anchovies and sardines. In them, the contamination risk is lower and the nutritional value higher.
You should always be led by the fact that the closer to the bottom of the food chain the fish is, the less polluted it will be. Avoid fish from the Baltic Sea and opt for herring and caviar.
HEALTHY FOOD STAR