Endangered Species (And Mercury) Are Delicious

Despite all the information widely available on the internet (and even in some forward thinking grocer’s seafood cases) about sustainable seafood choices and mercury contamination, people continue to be duped into eating endangered species and species that could quite literally poison their families.  For at least one highly fished creature – bluefin tuna – these two issues actually collide.

Hot off the presses today?   Reports of a record breaking sale of a 750-pound bluefin tuna selling for an astonishing $396,000.   Considering the incredibly high harvest rate of this species in relation to it’s sustainable catch limit (harvests are estimated at three to four times the sustainable level) it’s hard to imagine how this large individual was able to escape the long lines long enough to achieve this impressive size.  Also hard to imagine?  How any sushi lover could not be aware of the peril put upon them by consuming very large predatory ocean going fish with respect to the potential mercury pollution.

Mercury and toxics pollution in our environments simply does not get enough press in our culture and it’s a topic very near and dear to my heart.  As a young woman who would one day like to have a healthy family, I’ve had to temper decisions regarding simple things like organic produce to nontoxic cosmetics and personal care items down to the bedding choices and reuseable water bottles I slurp from all day long here in hot Florida.

It’s a labyrinthine world we’re all trying to navigate in an effort to keep ourselves healthy and stave off debilitating conditions. It’s also a major effort (at least for me personally) to try to preserve the potential for my body to generate healthy life in the future.

But perhaps you’re wondering.. “Dear Sarah, haven’t you gone just a touch off the deep end?  Don’t we have regulations to safeguard public health?  Didn’t we deal with a lot of toxic contamination in the second half of the last century and – these days –  live in a relatively benign chemical world?”

And the answer is:  I’m sinking ever farther into the inky uncertain deep that is our world.  We do not have nearly enough regulations for my tastes.  And while we made progress with lead and PCBs, we’re far from the innocence of say living in Never Never Land (where of course there only make-believe chemical monsters and not real ones).   I live in the real world and I want to be here, but I’m also aghast at the very real potential that we lay our heads on neurotoxin laden pillows every night and consume organophosphate soaked bell peppers!

But perhaps also you’re a little lost on the whole subject.  Well, thankfully a very elegant and wonderful article was just posted by Orion that neatly and succinctly summarizes some of the major issues surrounding chemical exposures, our children, their future, and the world we currently live in.  Happy reading, my friends.


2 Comments to “Endangered Species (And Mercury) Are Delicious”

  1. I’m hoping you can educate me a bit. I’m clear about the mercury/heavy metal issues, but I wasn’t aware that blue fin tuna were on the rare and endangered species list. Or perhaps they are in some countries but not others?

    What is the sustainable catch and how can we encourage legislation that will bring the catch to these levels.

    It’s been a while since I’ve been to your site. I still like it a lot.


  2. IUCN hasn’t updated T. maccoyii (Southern bluefin tuna) in quite some time, but they’ve been listed critically endangered for a long time. There are a lot of good resources (and a lot of controversy) online about bluefin, I like the summary by Seafood Watch (http://www.montereybayaquarium.org/cr/SeafoodWatch/web/sfw_factsheet.aspx?gid=69) as well as Oceana (http://na.oceana.org/en/our-work/protect-marine-wildlife/bluefin-tuna/overview) and of course ICCAT (http://www.iccat.es/en/) for a deeper look.