CHOW Tips:  Fish & Seafood

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CHOW Tips will give you back-of-the-house secrets from chefs, such as how to buy fresh fish, how to poach tuna, how to smoke or grill fish and seafood, and other helfpful hints.

Choose from 22 quick and easy CHOW Tips that will help you cook like a gourmet, or even a chef.

Plow & Hearth

Fish & Seafood


Seafood refers to any sea animal or aquatic plant that is served as food and eaten by humans.  Seafoods include seawater animals, such as fish and shellfish (including molluscs and crustaceans).  By extension, the term seafood is also applied to similar animals from fresh water and all edible aquatic animals are collectively referred to as seafood.  Edible seaweeds are also seafood, and are widely eaten around the world, especially in Asia. 

The harvesting of wild seafood is known as fishing and the cultivation and farming of seafood is known as aquaculture, mariculture, or in the case of fish, fish farming.  Seafood is often distinguished from meat, although it is still animal and is excluded in a vegetarian diet.  Seafood is an important source of protein in many diets around the world, especially in coastal areas.

There are over 32,000 species of fish, making them the most diverse group of vertebrates.  However, only a small number of the total species are considered food fish and are commonly eaten.  The principal food fish species groups areAnchovy, Carp, Catfish, Cod, Eel, Haddock, Halibut, Herring, Mackerel, Salmon, Sardine, Scad, Snapper, Tilapia, Trout, and Tuna.

Typical Meat Nutritional Content
from 110 grams (4 oz or .25 lb)

Source calories protein carbs fat
  fish 110–140 20–25 g 0 g 1–5 g
  chicken breast 160 28 g 0 g 7 g
  lamb 250 30 g 0 g 14 g
  steak (beef top round) 210 36 g 0 g 7 g
  steak (beef T-bone) 450 25 g 0 g 35 g

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Health Benefits:

  1. Seafood is consumed all over the world; it provides the world's prime source of high-quality protein: 14-16% of the animal protein consumed world-wide; over one billion people rely on seafood as their primary source of animal protein.

  2. Research over the past few decades has shown that the nutrients and minerals in seafood can make improvements in brain development and reproduction and has highlighted the role for seafood in the functionality of the human body.

  3. Oil-rich fish such as mackerel or herring are rich in long chain Omega-3 oils.  These oils are found in every cell of the human body, and are required for human biological functions such as brain functionality.

  4. Whitefish such as haddock and cod are very low in fat and calories which, combined with oily fish rich in Omega-3 such as mackerel, sardines, fresh tuna, salmon and trout, can help to protect against coronary heart disease, as well as helping to develop strong bones and teeth.

  5. Fish is high in minerals such as iodine and selenium, which keep the body running smoothly.  Iodine is essential for the thyroid gland, which controls growth and metabolism, while selenium is used to make enzymes that protect cell walls from cancer-causing free radicals, and helps prevent DNA damage caused by radiation and some chemicals.

  6. Fish is an excellent source of vitamin A, which is needed for healthy skin and eyes, and vitamin D, which is needed to help the body absorb calcium to strengthen teeth and bones.  Fish is also a good source of vitamin B6, vitamin B12, biotin and niacin, as well several minerals, especially iron, phosphorus, potassium and zinc.

  7. Shellfish are particularly rich in zinc, which is essential for healthy skin and muscles as well as fertility. 

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Health Concerns:

  1. Fresh fish is a highly perishable food product, so it must be eaten promptly or discarded; it can be kept for only a short time.  The fishy smell of dead fish is due to the breakdown of amino acids into biogenic amines and ammonia.  If the cool chain has not been adhered to correctly, food products generally decay and become harmful before the validity date printed on the package. 

    Humans can become infected with a number of bacteria from eating contaminated fish or shellfish, incluidng Vibrio vulnificus, Vibrio parahaemolyticus, Vibrio cholerae, C. botulinum, Listeria monocytogenes and Salmonella spp.  As these microorganisms colonize a piece of fish, they begin to break it down, leaving behind toxins that can cause enteritis or food poisoning, potentially lethal in the rare case of botulism or cholera.  The microorganisms do not survive a thorough cooking of the meat, but several of their toxins and microbial spores do.  The microbes may also infect the person eating the meat, although the microflora of the human gut is normally an effective barrier against this.

  2. Fish and shellfish have a natural tendency to concentrate mercury in their bodies, often in the form of methylmercury, a highly toxic organic compound of mercury.  Species of fish that are high on the food chain, such as shark, swordfish, king mackerel, albacore tuna, and tilefish contain higher concentrations of mercury than others.  This is because mercury is stored in the muscle tissues of fish, and when a predatory fish eats another fish, it assumes the entire body burden of mercury in the consumed fish.  Since fish are less efficient at depurating than accumulating methylmercury, fish-tissue concentrations increase over time.  Thus species that are high on the food chain amass body burdens of mercury that can be ten times higher than the species they consume.  As a result, in March 2004 the United States FDA issued guidelines recommending that pregnant women, nursing mothers and children limit their intake of tuna and other types of predatory fish.

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  4. The nutritional value of farm-raised tilapia may be compromised due to the amount of corn included in the feed.  Corn contains short chain omega-6 fatty acids that contribute to the buildup of these materials in the fish.  Ratios of long-chain omega-6 to long-chain omega-3 in tilapia averaged about 11:1 respectively, compared to much less than 1:1 in both salmon and trout.  Widespread publicity encouraging fish consumption has led to increases in tilapia consumption by those with lower incomes who are trying to eat a balanced diet.  The lower amounts of omega-3 and the higher ratios of omega-6 compounds in farmed tilapia raise questions of the health benefits of consuming this fish.  Adequate diets for salmon and other carnivorous fish can be formulated from protein sources such as soy, although soy-based diets may also change in the balance between omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids.

  5. Because of parasite problems, some aquaculture operators frequently use strong antibiotic drugs to keep the fish alive (but many fish still die prematurely at rates of up to 30%).  The residual presence of these drugs in human food products has become controversial.  Use of antibiotics in food production is thought to increase the prevalence of antibiotic resistance in human diseases. 

  6. When pesticides are incorporated into the marine ecosystem, they quickly become absorbed into marine food webs.  Once in the food webs, these pesticides can cause mutations, as well as diseases, which can be harmful to humans as well as the entire food web.

  7. Some shellfish can naturally contain toxins, many of which are not produced by bacteria, including paralytic shellfish poisoning, diarrhetic shellfish poisoning, neurotoxic shellfish poisoning, amnesic shellfish poisoning and ciguatera fish poisoning

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Wild Fisheries

As of the early 21st century, fish is humanity's only significant wild food source.  A fishery is an area with an associated fish or aquatic population which is harvested for its commercial value.  Fisheries can be marine (saltwater) or freshwater

Wild fisheries are sometimes called capture fisheries.  The aquatic life they support is not controlled in any meaningful way and needs to be "captured" or fished.  Wild fisheries exist primarily in the oceans, and particularly around coasts and continental shelves.  They also exist in lakes and rivers.  As a contrast to wild fisheries, farmed fisheries can operate in sheltered coastal waters, in rivers, lakes and ponds, or in enclosed bodies of water such as tanks.  Farmed fisheries are technological in nature, and revolve around developments in aquaculture.  Nevertheless, the majority of fish consumed by humans continues to be sourced from wild fisheries.

Issues with wild fisheries are overfishing and pollution.  Significant wild fisheries have collapsed or are in danger of collapsing, due to overfishing and pollution.  Overall, production from the world's wild fisheries has levelled out, and may be starting to decline.  According to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the world harvest by commercial fisheries in 2005 consisted of 93.2 million tonnes of aquatic animals captured in wild fisheries, plus another 1.3 million tons of aquatic plants (seaweed etc).  This can be contrasted with 48.1 million tonnes harvested in fish farms and 14.8 million tons of aquatic plants produced by aquaculture.

Pollution is the introduction of contaminants into an environment.  Wild fisheries flourish in oceans, lakes, and rivers, and the introduction of contaminants is an issue of concern, especially with respect to plastics, pesticides, heavy metals, and other industrial and agricultural pollutants which do not disintegrate rapidly in the environment.  Land run-off and industrial, agricultural, and domestic waste enter rivers and are discharged into the sea.  Pollution from ships is also a problem.

Eighty percent of all known marine debris is plastic—a component that has been rapidly accumulating since the end of World War II.  Toxic additives used in the manufacture of plastic materials can leech out into their surroundings when exposed to water.  Waterborne hydrophobic pollutants collect and magnify on the surface of plastic debris, thus making plastic far more deadly in the ocean than it would be on land.  Hydrophobic contaminants are also known to bioaccumulate in fatty tissues, biomagnifying up the food chain to accumulate in even higher concentrations in the tissues of apex predators (including human consumers).  Some plastic additives are known to disrupt the endocrine system when consumed, others can suppress the immune system or decrease reproductive rates.

Apart from plastics, there are particular problems with other toxins which do not disintegrate rapidly in the marine environment.  Heavy metals are metallic chemical elements that have a relatively high density and are toxic or poisonous at low concentrations.  Examples are mercury, lead, nickel, arsenic and cadmium.  Other persistent toxins are PCBs, DDT, pesticides, furans, dioxins and phenols.  Such toxins can accumulate in the tissues of many species of aquatic life in a process called bioaccumulation

Fishing nets that have been left or lost in the ocean by fishermen are called ghost nets, and can entangle fish, dolphins, sea turtles, sharks, dugongs, crocodiles, seabirds, crabs, and other creatures.  Acting as designed, these nets restrict movement, causing starvation, laceration and infection, and—in those that need to return to the surface to breath—suffocation.

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Overfishing occurs when fishing activities reduce fish stocks below an acceptable level.  This can occur in any body of water from a pond to the oceans.  Ultimately overfishing can lead to resource depletion.  The ability of a fishery to recover after overfishing depends on whether the ecosystem conditions are suitable for the recovery.

Dramatic changes in species composition can result in an ecosystem shift, where other equilibrium energy flows involve species compositions other than those that had been present before.  For example, once trout have been overfished, carp might take over in a way that makes it impossible for the trout to re-establish a breeding population.  Massive growth of jellyfish populations threaten fish stocks, as they compete with fish for food, eat fish eggs, and poison or swarm fish, and can survive in oxygen depleted environments where fish cannot; they wreak massive havoc on commercial fisheries.  Overfishing eliminates a major jellyfish competitor and predator exacerbating the jellyfish population explosion.

Global wild fisheries are in decline.  The aquaculture or farming of piscivorous fish, like salmon, does not help the problem because they need to eat products from other fish, such as fish meal and fish oil.  Fish do not actually produce omega-3 fatty acids, but instead accumulate them from either consuming microalgae that produce these fatty acids, as is the case with forage fish like herring and sardines, or, as is the case with fatty predatory fish, like salmon, by eating prey fish that have accumulated omega-3 fatty acids from microalgae.  Studies have shown that salmon farming has major negative impacts on wild salmon, as well as the forage fish that need to be caught to feed them.  Fish that are higher on the food chain are less efficient sources of food energy.

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Aquaculture, also known as aquafarming, is the farming of aquatic organisms such as fish, crustaceans, molluscs and aquatic plants.  Aquaculture involves cultivating freshwater and saltwater populations under controlled conditions, and can be contrasted with commercial fishing, which is the harvesting of wild fish.  Particular kinds of aquaculture include fish farming, shrimp farming, oyster farming, algaculture (such as seaweed farming), and the cultivation of ornamental fish.  Particular methods include aquaponics, which integrates fish farming and plant farming.

In 2004, the total world production of fisheries was 140 million tonnes of which aquaculture contributed 45 million tonnes, about one third.  The growth rate of worldwide aquaculture has been sustained and rapid, averaging about 8% per annum for over thirty years, while the take from wild fisheries has been essentially flat for the last decade.  About 430 (97%) of the species cultured as of 2007 were domesticated during the 20th century, of which an estimated 106 came in the decade to 2007.  Harvest stagnation in wild fisheries and overexploitation of popular marine species, combined with a growing demand for high quality protein encourages aquaculturists to domesticate other marine species. 

Fish farming is the principal form of aquaculture, while other methods may fall under mariculture.  Fish farming involves raising fish commercially in tanks or enclosures, usually for food.  The most common fish species raised by fish farms are salmon, carp, tilapia, European seabass, catfish and cod.

There is an increasing demand for fish and fish protein, which has resulted in widespread overfishing in wild fisheries.  Fish farming offers fish marketers another source.  However, farming carnivorous fish, such as salmon, does not always reduce pressure on wild fisheries, since carnivorous farmed fish are usually fed fishmeal and fish oil extracted from wild forage fish.

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Mariculture is a specialized branch of aquaculture involving the cultivation of marine organisms for food and other products in the open ocean, an enclosed section of the ocean, or in tanks, ponds or raceways which are filled with seawater.  An example of the latter is the farming of marine fish, including finfish and shellfish, e.g.prawns, or oysters and seaweed in saltwater ponds. 

Species farmed using mariculture:   Seabass, Bigeye tuna, Cobia, Grouper, Snapper, Pompano, Abalone, and Prawn.

Risks aquaculture 550.jpg

Commonly identified environmental impacts from marine farms are:

  1. Wastes from cage cultures – Mariculture of finfish can require a significant amount of fishmeal or other high protein food sources.  nitrogen and phosphorus compounds from food and waste may lead to blooms of phytoplankton, whose subsequent degradation can drastically reduce oxygen levels.  If the algae are toxic, fish are killed and shellfish contaminated.

  2. Farm escapees and invasives – Escapees can adversely impact local ecosystems through hybridization and loss of genetic diversity in native stocks, increase negative interactions within an ecosystem (such as predation and competition), disease transmission and habitat changes. 

    The accidental introduction of invasive species is also of concern.  Aquaculture is one of the main vectors for invasives following accidental releases of farmed stocks into the wild. 

  3. Genetic pollution and disease and parasite transfer – Farmed stocks are often selectively bred to increase disease and parasite resistance, as well as improving growth rates and quality of products.  They can potentially reduce the genetic diversity within wild populations if they escape into those wild populations.  Such genetic pollution from escaped aquaculture stock can reduce the wild population’s ability to adjust to the changing natural environment.  Also, maricultured species can harbor diseases and parasites which can be introduced to wild populations upon their escape.  Such ‘new’ diseases would be devastating for those wild populations because they would have no immunity to them.

  4. Habitat modification – With the exception of benthic habitats directly beneath marine farms, most mariculture causes minimal destruction to habitats. 

As with most farming practices, the degree of environmental impact depends on the size of the farm, the cultured species, stock density, type of feed, hydrography of the site, and husbandry methods.  The above diagram connects these causes and effects.

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Integrated Multi-Trophic Aquaculture

Integrated Multi-Trophic Aquaculture (IMTA) offers a more sustainable form of mariculture that promises economic and environmental benefits.  IMTA provides the by-products, including waste, from one aquatic species as inputs (fertilizers, food) for another.  Farmers combine fed aquaculture (e.g., fish, shrimp) with inorganic extractive (e.g., seaweed) and organic extractive (e.g., shellfish) aquaculture to create balanced systems for environment remediation (biomitigation), economic stability (improved output, lower cost, product diversification and risk reduction) and social acceptability (better management practices).

Selecting appropriate species and sizing the various populations to provide necessary ecosystem functions allows the biological and chemical processes involved to achieve a stable balance, mutually benefiting the organisms and improving ecosystem health.  This increases the site's ability to assimilate the cultivated organisms, thereby reducing negative environmental impacts.  Ideally, the co-cultured species each yield valuable commercial "crops". 

IMTA can produce fish at lower cost than industrial fishing, leading to better human diets and the gradual elimination of unsustainable fisheries.  Today, low intensity traditional/incidental multi-trophic aquaculture is much more common than modern IMTA.  Most are relatively simple, such as a system that combines fish/seaweed/shellfish.  In the future, true IMTA can be land-based, using ponds or tanks, or open-water marine or freshwater systems.

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Recirculating Aquaculture Systems

An alternative to outdoor open ocean cage aquaculture, with its inherently high risk of environmental damage, is the practice of indoor fish farming that uses of a recirculation aquaculture system (RAS).  RAS recycle water by circulating it through filters to remove fish waste and food and then recirculating it back into the tanks.  This saves water and the waste gathered can be used in compost or, in some cases, could even be treated and used on land.  Unwanted nutrients from the fish food would not be added to the ocean and the risk of transmitting diseases between wild and farm-raised fish would greatly be reduced. 

Other treatments such as UV sterilization, ozonation, and oxygen injection are also used to maintain optimal water quality.  Through this system, many of the environmental drawbacks of aquaculture are minimized including escaped fish, water usage, and the introduction of pollutants.  The practices also increased feed-use efficiency growth by providing optimum water quality. 

Because of its high capital and operating costs, RAS has generally been restricted to practices such as broodstock maturation, larval rearing, fingerling production, research animal production, SPF (specific pathogen free) animal production, and caviar and ornamental fish production.  Although the use of RAS for other species is considered by many aquaculturalists to be impractical, there has been some limited successful implementation of this with high value product such as barramundi, sturgeon and live tilapia in the US.

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Organic Aquaculture

Organic aquaculture is becoming increasingly important as consumers become more environmentally aware, and concerns about sustainability and harmful impacts are becoming more prevalent.  Aquaculture has the highest rate of expansion and Certified organic aquaculture products have been steadily increasing since the mid 1990s.  It is gradually becoming more mainstream, especially in Germany, the United Kingdom and Switzerland but most consumers are confused and sceptical about organically labelled product due to the conflicting and misleading standards around the world.  In 2008, the US National Organic Standards Board allowed farmed fish to be labeled as organic provided less than 25% of their feed came from wild fish.  This decision was criticized by the advocacy group Food & Water Watch as "bending the rules" about organic labeling.

The aquaculture industries in general are still figuring out how to be sustainable, what best practices are and what ecological considerations is can or should be implemented.  Current standards are often quite strict and some people argue they are unattainable (and therefore should be relaxed).  As organic regulations are designed around soil-based systems, they don't always transfer very well into aquaculture and tend to conflict with large-scale, intensive (economically viable) practices/goals.  There is a definite consumer demand for organic seafood, and organic aquaculture may become a significant management option.  Currently integrated aquaculture systems look like they will form the base of approved organic farming practice.

Organic aquaculture was responsible for an estimated $46.1 billion (US) internationally (2007).  There were 0.4 million hectares of certified organic aquaculture in 2008 compared to 32.2 million hectares dedicated to Organic farming.  The 2007 production was still only 0.1% of total aquaculture production.  The market for organic aquaculture shows strong growth in Europe, especially France, Germany and the UK—for example, the market in France grew 220% from 2007-2008.  There is a preference for organic food, where available.  Organic seafood is now sold in discount supermarket chains throughout the EU.  The top five producing countries are UK, Ireland, Hungary, Greece and France.

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Fish Processing

Fish processing refers to the processes associated with fish and fish products between the time fish are caught or harvested, and the time the final product is delivered to the customer.  Although the term refers specifically to fish, in practice it is extended to cover any aquatic organisms harvested for commercial purposes, whether caught in wild fisheries or harvested from aquaculture or fish farming.

Larger fish processing companies often operate their own fishing fleets or farming operations.  The products of the fish industry are usually sold wholesale to grocery chains or to intermediaries.

Fish is a highly perishable food which needs proper handling and preservation if it is to have a long shelf life and retain a desirable quality and nutritional value.  The central concern of fish processing is to prevent fish from deteriorating.  The most obvious method for preserving the quality of fish is to keep them alive until they are ready for cooking and eating.

Methods used to preserve fish and fish products include:

  • the control of temperature using ice, refrigeration or freezing
  • the control of water activity by drying, salting, smoking or freeze-drying
  • the physical control of microbial loads through microwave heating or ionizing irradiation
  • the chemical control of microbial loads by adding acids
  • oxygen deprivation, such as vacuum packing

Usually more than one of these methods is used. 

Fish processing can be subdivided into fish handling, which is the preliminary processing of raw fish, and the manufacture of fish products.  Aspects of fish processing occur on fishing vessels, fish processing vessels, and at fish processing plants.  Another natural subdivision is into primary processing involved in the filleting and freezing of fresh fish for onward distribution to fresh fish retail and catering outlets, and the secondary processing that produces chilled, frozen and canned products for the retail and catering trades.

Fish processing can be subdivided into two categories fish handling (the initial processing of raw fish) and fish products manufacturing.  Aspects of fish processing occur on fishing vessels, fish processing vessels, and at fish processing plants.

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Sustainable Seafood

Sustainable seafood is a movement that has gained momentum as more people become aware about overfishing and environmentally destructive fishing methods.  Sustainable seafood is seafood from either fished or farmed sources that can maintain or increase production in the future without jeopardizing the ecosystems from which it was acquired.

In general, slow-growing fish that reproduce late in life, such as deep sea perch, are quite vulnerable to overfishing.  Seafood species that grow quickly and breed young, such as anchovies and sardines, are much more resistant to overfishing.  Nonprofit groups addressing seafood sustainability include the Marine Stewardship Council, Oceana, and Greenpeace produce consumer guides for sustainable seafood.

With around 80% of fish stocks in trouble, species driven to extinction and ecosystems on the brink of collapse it is time to rethink how we harvest our oceans.  Greenpeace is encouraging retailers to clean up their seafood shelves.  By switching to a sustainable seafood sourcing policy they can change the world's fisheries and help to protect the world's oceans.

Due to growing public concern about overfishing, many seafood restaurants have begun to offer more sustainable seafood options, with some restaurants specializing in sustainable seafood.  The Seafood Choices Alliance aims to educate chefs about the choices they make in order to encourage more chefs and restaurants to offer sustainable options.

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Animal Welfare Concerns

Historically, some doubted that fish could experience pain.  However, laboratory experiments have shown that fish do react to painful stimuli (e.g.  injections of bee venom) in a similar way to mammals.  The expansion of fish farming as well as animal welfare concerns in society has led to research into more humane and faster ways of killing fish.

Farmed fish are kept in concentrations never seen in the wild (e.g.  50,000 fish in a 2-acre area) with each fish occupying less room than the average bathtub.  This can cause several forms of pollution.  Packed tightly, fish rub against each other and the sides of their cages, damaging their fins and tails and becoming sickened with various diseases and infections.

According to T. Håstein of the National Veterinary Institute, "Different methods for slaughter of fish are in place and it is no doubt that many of them may be considered as appalling from an animal welfare point of view." A 2004 report by the EFSA Scientific Panel on Animal Health and Welfare explained "Many existing commercial killing methods expose fish to substantial suffering over a prolonged period of time.  For some species, existing methods, whilst capable of killing fish humanely, are not doing so because operators don’t have the knowledge to evaluate them."

Tanks saturated with carbon dioxide have been used to make fish unconscious.  Then their gills are cut with a knife so that the fish bleed out before they are further processed.  This is no longer considered a humane method of slaughter.

Following are some of the less humane ways of killing fish.

  • Air Asphyxiation.  This amounts to suffocation in the open air and is extremely painful.  The process can take upwards of 15 minutes to induce death, although unconsciousness tyipcally sets in sooner. 
  • Ice baths / chilling.    Farmed fish are sometimes chilled on ice or submerged in near-freezing water.  The purpose is to dampen muscle movements by the fish and to delay the onset of post-death decay.  However, it does not necessarily reduce sensibility to pain; indeed, the chilling process has been shown to elevate cortisol.  In addition, reduced body temperature extends the time before fish lose consciousness. 
  • Carbon dioxide narcosis to induce unconsciousness
  • Exsanguination without stunning.  This is an extremely painful process in which fish are taken up from water, held still, and cut so as to cause bleeding.  This can leave fish writhing for an average of four minutes, and some catfish still responded to noxious stimuli after more than 15 minutes. 

In large-scale operations like fish farms, stunning fish with electricity or putting them into water saturated with nitrogen so that they cannot breathe, results in death more rapidly than just taking them out of the water.

For sport fishing, it is recommended that fish be killed soon after catching them by hitting them on the head followed by bleeding out, or by stabbing the brain with a sharp object (called pithing or ike jime in Japanese).

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Ethical Consumerism

Ethical consumerism is the intentional purchase of products and services that the customer considers to be made ethically.  This may mean with minimal harm to or exploitation of humans, animals and/or the natural environment.

Ethical consumers of meat and fish—also known as "ethical omnivores" (omnivores eat both plants and animals as their primary food source)—think about the animals the meat they eat comes from.  They ask such questions as Have they lived well?   Have they been fed on safe, appropriate foods?   Have they been cared for by someone who respects them and enjoys contact with them?   Have they been raised in a sustainable manner?

The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.—Mahatma Gandhi.

Ethical consumerism is practiced through "positive buying" or "moral boycott".

Positive buying means favoring ethical products, be they fair trade, cruelty free, organic, recycled, re-used, or produced locally.  This option is arguably the most important since it directly supports progressive companies.  A number of standards and labels have been introduced to induce positive buying, such as: organic food, local food, Organic Trade Association, vegan, free-range poultry, grass fed beef, dolphin safe fish, kosher and halal (religious standard).

Moral boycott is the practice of avoiding or boycotting products which a consumer believes to be associated with unethical behavior.  An individual can choose to boycott a product.  Alternatively, the decision may be the application of criteria reflective of a morality (or, in the terminology of ethics, a theory of value) to any purchasing decisions.  Reasons for products boycotts include factory farming and/or environmental harm.

Consumers are encouraged by animal welfare organizations to only shop at supermarkets which have strict animal welfare policies regarding the products they sell.  Such boycotts can cause great damage to reputations, not to mention loss of profits, and has, in part, led to the development of the concept of corporate social responsibility.

The rise in ethical consumerism and green brands that identify themselves as ethical, has led to a rise in ethic-based decisions in the mass market, enabled by increased understanding and information about businesses practices.  The term ethical consumerism may refer to the wider movement within marketing, which means that large corporations wish to be seen as working ethically and improving the ethical standards of their industry.

Alternative terms are ethical consumption, ethical purchasing, moral purchasing, ethical shopping or green consumerism

Please buy humanely-raised, cruelty-free meat and support more substainable agriculture. 


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CHEESE:  How to buy cheese, how to cut and serve cheese, whether or not to freeze cheese, and more.

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