The traditional printed media is increasingly fighting a losing battle to survive the tsunami of mass media flooding every possible communication circuit, spurred by hungry, hasty masses who want to say, see and hear it ALL - NOW!
Social media has an unstoppable life of its own and seconds after a major catastrophe or calamity occurred, the tweets, twitters, twats and Facebook/Instagram photos start pouring in with detailed graphic descriptions and footage . . .
No traditional media outlet can compete with the technology freely available to anyone with moderate knowledge of the latest cellphone apps and gadgets. While social media has many advantages and even life-saving benefits, the freedom of speech it offers to every Tom, Dick and Harry is taking its toll.
Fake news, slander and internet fraud have become part of our daily lives and the trick to distinguish between truth, trash or treat has become a Halloweenish nightmare.
Where does that leave traditional newspapers - and more specific - dedicated and time-consuming investigative journalism - supposedly one of the cornerstones of democracy and an essential necessity for an informed, functioning world?
Daily and weekly newspapers and magazines have no chance to stay abreast of breaking news streaming on the internet and have all compromised by having online editions to keep up with the constant news flood.
But at what cost if there is no time to check the facts or if official spokespersons are evasive, incompetent or muzzled by their superiors?
In sunny South Africa, the fast-fact-finding mission on short notice/deadline has become Mission Impossible as most authorities - from national to provincial and local governmental departments - have adopted an evasive, no comment policy to any straight media questions. Spinners need at least a few days to string, polish and wrap their half-truths together in a neat, meaningless and politically correct press release . . .
No official spokesperson can, want or MAY speak openly and off the cuff anymore, which leaves journalists in a catch 22- position to either leave the story entirely (miss the scoop) or to rely on unconfirmed rumours, hearsay and social media reports to whip up a reasonable account of what allegedly happened according to various sources . . . .
Small wonder that most newspapers have to rely on follow-up stories to rectify the initial misinformation - and often the two accounts differ so dramatically that readers lose trust in the authenticity of the media . . .
Is die media in gevaarwaters? Deur Murray La Vita
Waarom het die publiek se vertroue in die media afgeneem?
’n Groep Afrikaanse medialeiers het hieroor en oor sake soos fopnuus, My fok, Marelize, en die invloed van die moord op Reeva Steenkamp op die nuuslandskap gepraat, berig Murray La Vita
Een van die waterskeidings in die Suid-Afrikaanse joernalistiek die afgelope jare was die moord op Reeva Steenkamp deur Oscar Pistorius op Valentynsdag 2013, sê Pieter du Toit, adjunkredakteur van News24.
Hy was een van die deelnemers aan die eerste diskoers in Die Burger se Praat Saam Diskoers-reeks op die KKNK in Oudtshoorn.
“Dit was vir ons baie definitief ’n skeiding gewees van hoe ons nuus verpak het vóór 14 Februarie 2013 en ná 14 Februarie 2013. Dit was die eerste keer waar ons in die Afrikaanse media, en ek was destyds by Beeld gewees, ’n brekende storie dádelik en deurlopend op digitale platforms begin dek het. Dit was strydig met hoe ons dit altyd gedoen het by koerante.
“Dít was die eerste waterskeiding. Maar waar ons nou is, moet ons alles wat ons destyds geleer het weer óntleer en nuwe tegnieke en maniere om stories te vertel aanleer. Waar goed vyf jaar gelede rewolusionêr was, is dit amper nou oud.”
Die onderwerp van die diskoers was: Is die media in die gevaarwaters?
“Ons vra dit na aanleiding van allerhande studies wat wys dat die publiek vertroue in die media verloor het,” het Ivor Price, gespreksleier, gesê.
“Die Edelman-vertroue-indeks vir 2018 het getoon dat openbare vertroue in die media ’n bloedneus gekry het met tot 63% van mense wat glo dat nuusorganisasies eerder groot gehore wil trek as om eerlik verslag te doen.”
Hy wou by Willem Jordaan, redakteur van Die Burger, weet of hy so ’n vertrouensbreuk tussen nuusmediums en hul verbruikers sien.
“Ek dink dit is ’n baie moeilike tyd vir die media internasionaal, maar ook in SuidAfrika. In die aanloop tot die Zondo-kommissie was daar prominente publikasies wat baie seergekry het wat die bevordering van eng politieke belange betref.
“Wat ’n ou moet bysê en wat ’n ou moed gee, is dat Sanef, die Suid-Afrikaanse Nasionale Redakteursforum, báie skerp gereageer het en ’n beroep gedoen het op mediahuise oor die land heen om weer te kyk na hul etiese prosedures en hul
nuusprosedures wat daar is om daardie soort van bevordering van eng belange uit te hou. Daarby is die kode van die persombudsman ook versterk en hersien.
In die aanloop tot die Zondo-kommissie was daar prominente publikasies wat baie seergekry het wat die bevordering van eng politieke belange betref. ” – Willem Jordaan
“Maar wat die situasie vir die media in Suid-Afrika veral moeilik maak, is die feit dat die tradisionele kommersiële model besig is om sterk te verander. Tradisionele adverteerders is besig om Facebook en Google toe te skuif, en ofskoon ’n koerant dalk nie in die eerste plek bestaan om geld te maak nie, móét ’n koerant geld maak om te kan bestaan.
“Daarom werk ons baie hard daaraan om ’n volhoubare toekoms vir gehaltejoernalistiek in Afrikaans op ’n platform soos Netwerk24 te bou, en ek wil ’n beroep doen op ons lesers om ons in daardie projekte te ondersteun.”
Ons is nie almal so nie
Du Toit het die punt gemaak dat die media nie ’n homogene organisme is nie.
“Die uitgangspunte en redaksionele benadering en dikwels ook waardes, verskil van titel tot titel. So ek dink die leserspubliek moet ook versigtig wees om die media as een entiteit saam te groepeer en te sê die media is sus of die media is só.
“In die verlede was die media huiwerig om hulle kollegas uit te wys en daar is steeds ’n ongemaklikheid daaroor om kollegas uit te wys wat verkeerd met feite omgaan, maar dit is toenemend so dat daar standpunt ingeneem word.
“En wat is die uitwerking? Die invloed van iets soos die Sunday Times se beriggewing oor die sogenaamde Cato Manor-hit squads en die beriggewing oor die sogenaamde 'rogue unit' van Sars – die inligting wat hulle gebruik het was vals én geplant – dít teer-en-veer die hele media. En ek dink dit vind dan inslag by opmerkings deur die publiek dat mense sê die media is sus of die media is só.”
Fopnuus se skuld
Price het Carryn-Ann Nel, joernalis en dosent in die Universiteit Stellenbosch se joernalistiekdepartement, gepols oor die verslag wat daarop dui dat mense minder vertroue in die media het.
“Fopnuus, wat die afgelope paar jare baie toegeneem het, is een van die redes waarom mense vertroue verloor het. Die verslag van Reuters sê 58% van mense is baie meer bewus van fopnuus. Mense se oë het oopgegaan vir hoe fopnuus elke dag om ons is.”
Price het aan Kobus Louwrens, mede-stigter van Food for Mzansi, gesê hy hoor die heeltyd mense sê fopnuus is nie die probleem nie, die internet, die digitale era, is die eintlike rede waarom mense vertroue in die media verloor het.
“Ek dink dit speel ’n rol; ons almal weet dit was ’n baie ontwrigtende ontwikkeling – dit is soos ’n groot brander wat die tradisionele media getref het en ons is nog altyd besig om te rol en te rol en te probeer om ons voete weer te vind. Maar die positiewe daarvan is dat dit besig is om nuwe geleenthede te skep in die media, want soos julle sê mense raak al hoe meer bewus van fopnuus en dit plaas ’n premie op bronne wat bewys het hulle is betroubaar.
“Daar is ook ’n model wat besig is om te ontwikkel waar mense betaal vir inhoud, maar ook waar inhoud betaal word deur byvoorbeeld borge, mense wat voel dit is nodig dat sekere inhoud gedeel word waar die tradisionele media dit nie kan doen nie.”
Goeie nuus, asseblief
Die media se rol het verander, maar die verbruikers se behoeftes het ook verander; daar is byvoorbeeld ’n toenemende behoefte aan goeie of bemoedigende nuus, het Price gesê.
Pieter du Toit het hieroor gesê: “Ja, te midde van staatskapings en ontbloting van grootskaalse korrupsie wíl mense positiewe nuus lees. Een van die mees geleesde stories op News24 die afgelope maand was die My fok, Marelize-storie. Mense was mál daaroor gewees.”
Marelize Holm en haar ma wie se video van Marelize se fietsry-flater die land weke lank aan die vloek gehad het.
Nel het gesê mense hou van emosie in ’n storie.
“Die oomblik wat jy aan ’n emosie raak, hetsy dit iemand se lagspiere prikkel of as hulle huil as hulle ’n storie lees . . . Dis altyd goed om daardie balans te hê.”
Esmaré Weideman, voormalige uitvoerende hoof van Media24, het uit die gehoor ’n lansie gebreek vir die gehalte van joernaliste wat ons in Suid-Afrika het.
“Ons is geseën met ongelooflik goeie joernaliste en van hulle sit daar op die verhoog en van hulle kry heeltemal te veel kritiek vanuit die Afrikaanse gemeenskap uit.
“Terwyl ’n mens baie hartseer moet wees as die integriteit van die media deur sommiges skade berokken word, moet ons ook net baie dankbaar wees dat hiérdie mense onder moeilike omstandighede met min tyd en jong nuuskantore . . . nuus
vinnig moet uitkry en besluite moet neem. En hulle blaas baie min hul eie beuel as dit kom byvoorbeeld by die rol wat die media gespeel het in die oopvlek van staatskaping.
“Ons as publiek moet ons koerante en ander nuusplatforms wat geld vra, ondersteun. R99 [maandelikse intekengeld vir Netwerk24] is géén geld vir die gehalte en verskeidenheid van publikasies en joernalistiek wat ons kry nie. Ons behoort eintlik báie meer te betaal daarvoor.”
Naspers shareholders launch organisation for investigative journalism
Investigative journalism is one of the cornerstones of our democracy, but is often hampered by a lack of funding, former Naspers chairperson Ton Vosloo said at the announcement of a non-profit organisation for investigative journalism within Media24.
During a conversation at the Centre for Student Communities at Stellenbosch University, Vosloo said the organisation, called Truth First, had been established to help the country's best investigative journalists continue their work.
He and his wife Anet have already made a R3.5m donation to establish it.
They have appealed to Naspers shareholders and concerned South Africans to contribute to Truth First to help responsibly fund investigative journalism.
"Aside from the financial adaptions the news media has had to make worldwide in the era of the internet and social media, we have a unique challenge in South Africa," Vosloo said. "We have informed, equipped and ingenious journalists who have been responsible for bringing controversial revelations - among other things, state capture - to light. Their ability to do in-depth 'digging' is however often hampered by a lack of resources.
"Journalism of this kind can take months and happens outside the daily news agenda. It is expensive but similarly important that we keep up with this work to sustain our threatened democracy.
"The aims of Truth First are, among other things, to encourage quality investigative journalism in the public interest and to promote an honest, free media that exposes transgressions. It must also contribute to a sense of empowerment by enabling South Africans to hold public institutions accountable.
"In basically my entire adult life as a journalist, I learnt through experience that the cornerstone of democracy in South Africa is a free, independent media," Vosloo said.
"During recent years, it has been proven over and over, with brave and responsible investigative journalism that led to the large-scale exposure of corruption and maladministration across a wide spectrum. It is a gift of grace that I'm in the position to contribute to the establishment of Truth First. May it strengthen our journalism to successfully continue its life sustaining work in new, difficult circumstances."
Journalists working for Media24 will be able to pitch investigative projects that require additional resources to a committee made up of the directors of Truth First. All applications will have to adhere to funding rules.
In addition to the Vosloo couple, the other directors are: Joe Thloloe, former press ombudsman; Charlene Beukes, general manager: News and Lifestyle at 24.com; Adriaan Basson, editor-in-chief of News24; Mondli Makhanya, editor-in-chief of City Press; Henriëtte Loubser, editor-in-chief of Netwerk24; and Oloff Sieberhagen, a lawyer at Marais Müller Hendricks Attorneys.
Thloloe applauded Naspers shareholders for the initiative to give back to journalism and said it was a very innovative way to raise funds for investigative journalism.
"Investigative journalism is really threatened due to publications losing money and cutting costs."
According to Thloloe, it is often one of the first forms of journalism that is cut, because it takes time and money and removes journalists from the stream of daily news.
"Anyone that appreciates investigative work will want to support this project. The country is where it currently is thanks to those that exposed apartheid and the endemic corruption that we are seeing now. They are the ones that are keeping us informed."
"The biggest gift of a free media is that the public can have peace of mind that they will know the truth," Anet Vosloo said.
"That is the confidence that we want to engender with Truth First: to know that Media24 goes out of its way to make sure readers are part of an honest and sincere inner circle who hears the full story."
* News24 is a publication of Media24, an affiliate of Naspers.
You just LOVE your sushi and believe the Norwegian salmon is healthy and good for you?
You might just reconsider after watching the undernearth two videos . . .
The shocking truth about what is truly happening in the international fish industry - especially farmed fish - has been exposed in two videos. This information has been withheld from the public for too long in order to protect this very lucrative but scandalous and criminal practices that are not only killing off wild fish in drones, but also poison people and cause serious health problems such as cancer, brain contamination, diabetics and many other modern day illnesses.
Even your pet's health may be at risk as the pulp of toxic fish waste are now being used in pet food . . . Misleading labeling- which is nothing but blatant fraud - makes it almost impossible for any country or buyer to trace the origin of these imported frozen salmon fillets and the ingredients in the various byproducts of farmed fish. One out of 3 labels were found to be misleading.
Photo: Norway is the world's largest producer of Atlantic salmon, and around 14 million people around the world enjoy Norwegian salmon every day! Along with fishery, aquaculture is the main industry in Vesterålen, providing valuable opportunities for employment and settlement along the coast.
Renowned researchers, biologists and scientists who have been investigating the fish farming industry all over the world - from Norway to Japan, Vietnam, Denmark, Sweden and Canada - were not allowed to publish their research studies and findings in accredited medical and scientific journals.
They were either forced to resign or threatened, and in some cases attempts were made to falsify their results in order to prevent this latest scandal in the international food industry from becoming public knowledge.
When confronted with the evidence of their research, Norway's Minister of Sea Fisheries refused to comment and claimed ignorance despite proof of her consent and direct involvement. Further investigation revealed that prior to her current position, she worked for years in the dried fish meal pellet industry.
These pellets that are globally used in the farmed fish industry, proved to be the most toxic concoction that not only causes severe deformities in farmed fish, but also poses serious threats to human health. It is linked to brain contamination, genetic disorders, diabetics and various forms of cancer.
Is it a coincidence that diabetics, cancer and disorders related to chemical imbalances in the brain have skyrocketed in the past decade since fish farming became one of the most popular and lucrative businesses in the food industry? Under the false pretense of avoiding a looming food scarcity in he world? While all along this "plastic fish" has no nutritional value and is in fact poisoning people and killing wild fish in the ocean, as well as disturbing the entire marine ecology?
These two documentary videos should be seen by everybody who loves sushi and were misled into believing that farmed fish is a lucrative and noble solution to a looming global food scarcity . . . Both videos are quite lengthy as they cover in detail the researchers' investigations and findings, but they are more than worth the watch.
Aqua Culture or Fish Farming has become the new buzz word in the international Big Bucks arena. Although the practice of farming with fish is eons old, dating back to ancient Egypt and China, the ballgame has changed completely in the last decades from small-scale, home-grown fish for the table to a multi-billion dollar industry.
Suddenly every country in the world - from Alaska and America to Norway and Nigeria - is concerned about the world's health and dwindling food supply. Farmed fish is the new "craze and solution" and is lauded by players in the industry as the only future source of protein for mankind - apparently because the world's oceans have already been stripped by commercial fishing and pirating longliners (that, funnily enough, nobody is able to catch or stop?)
The competitive mega-bucks industry is spreading and flourishing like wildfire as new technology for improved sea cages flood the market and companies compete to produce the best/cheapest and most balanced/nutritious artificial fish pellets and food for the various farmed fish species.
South Africa is a relative new-comer to the industry and has only in the last two decades decided to jump on the bandwagon with a few pilot projects, but it is still very experimental and small-scaled compared to the lucrative industries in some Eastern countries, Europe and America.
Since the Mossel Bay area has recently been earmarked for a pilot offshore finfish project to farm yellowtail in open cages, it might be a good idea to see what is truly going on in the industry; and why consumers are seriously cautioned to only buy/eat farmed fish and seafood products from certain accredited outlets to ensure it is safe and responsibly grown.
Photo: Fish farming in Bangladesh
It seems the industry is still in a very experimental phase regarding the long-term effects of all the pesticides, hormones, antibiotics and other chemicals used in the various artificial fish foods - not only to the ocean and marine life, but also to human health. Furthermore, every country still seems to be experimenting with, and researching new technology and sea cage structures to combat existing problems and to prevent farmed fish from escaping into the ocean and contaminating wild species with viruses, sea lice, etc.
Photo: Fish Farm cages in Japan.
Especially finfish such as yellowtail is still a rarity in the industry. Many countries such as Alaska have prohibited finfish farming as it poses significant problems and risks compared to shellfish like abalone, oysters and mussels. Finfish such as carp, catfish, salmon, tilapia and yellowtail have to be fed regularly and with the "exact right" food; have to move constantly in confined cages and easily die from stress due to confinement.
Photo: South African Yellowtail - where has it successfully been raised in fish farms?
The exact cause of severely deformed species of farmed fish in Australia and other places are still debated and attributed to either the "wrong" pellet-food, accelerated growth or stress, or a combination of all three.
Deaf, deformed and depressed - an example of a deformed salmon raised on a fish farm
Researchers say the findings raise questions about the welfare of farmed fish.
Sea lice, parasites, viruses and other diseases need to be carefully controlled or prevented with pesticides and other chemicals and thus far, it has been impossible to prevent farmed fish from eventually escaping into the sea due to various factors - erosion and the deterioration of the nets and cages, stormy sea conditions and the impact of whales, orcas and sharks.
The impact of the nets on curious marine animals such as whales, dolphins, sharks and penguins in Mossel Bay's prolific waters is another great concern.
One cannot help wondering whether the noble practice of fishing for food for one's family has somewhere along the line been hijacked by corporate companies and distorted into a feeding frenzy in which food and the nutrition of humans come secondary to money-hunger greed . . . maybe at the cost of our oceans' and our own health . . .
Photo: Fish Farming in Nigeria
Here are some interesting facts and food for thought:
Is Farmed Fish a Healthy Choice?
Aquaculture is the practice of raising fish or ocean plants for food or resources. Today, many species of fish are raised in contained fresh water or ocean water environments, including salmon, catfish, tilapia, cod and others.
In fact, around 50% of the seafood we consumes comes from aquaculture. It is a $78 billion industry which has grown 9% a year since 1975. (6)
While aquaculture is nothing new as humans have been farming fish for millennia, there have been some substantial changes in recent decades. There is evidence of fish farming dating back to 2000 BCE in China and depictions of ornamental fish ponds in ancient Egytian paintings.
Modern fish farming practices often raise fish near the top of the food chain (affecting populations of fish that eat or are eaten by these species) and contain thousands of fish in tiny pens (similar to commercial chicken or cow operations). As you may imagine, these conditions leave something to be desired and affect both the quality of the fish and the health of the ocean.
Environmental Problems with Fish Farming
Fish farming is a way to create a much larger amount of fish much more quickly, cheaply and efficiently than with wild caught fish. Unfortunately, when something seems too good to be true, it very often is!
This density of fish creates problems like disease and pollution. The biggest source of pollution is the accumulation of fish waste and uneaten food beneath the sea pens which can degrade the quality of the surrounding water.
Like commercial farming operations on land, the density of fish in these pens necessitates certain chemicals to keep animals from getting sick and to keep things clean. The chemicals used in marine aquaculture operations such as medicines like antibiotics and vaccines, disinfectants, and substances used to prevent corrosion of equipment (cages, etc.) can also change the composition of the surrounding aquatic ecosystem.
The amount of pollution from fish farms also depends on how the fish are contained. Open-net, or pen systems, allow for a direct exchange of water, where as “closed contentment” methods have a barrier which filters the water.
Impact of Biodiversity
Another way aquaculture can have a negative impact is by introducing farmed species into the wild and therefore changing the biodiversity of aquatic ecosystems. Even when measures are taken to prevent escapes, predators like birds and sharks, equipment failure, human error, severe weather and other complications mean that escapes of farmed fish are inevitable.
Since farmed fish often have been bred via selective breeding they have a lower genetic variation than wild fish. If they interbreed with the wild fish it can result in a less genetically diverse, and therefore less robust, population.
Another concern is infertile offspring. For example, Atlantic and Pacific salmon belong to different genera and while they can produce offspring, those offspring will be unable to reproduce (like mules). If populations of non-native species become established they compete with native populations for resources such as food and breeding sites. (8)
Since farmed fish are selected and bred for certain genetic criteria like size, quick growth and hardiness, escaped species can become invasive, which has been recognized as one of the main causes of global biodiversity loss. One example of this was the Pacific oyster in the UK, which was introduced into its waters in the 1960s via aquaculture with the idea that it would be a more commercially viable species than the native oyster. Unfortunately, these pacific oysters have spread and created reef formations, forcing out the native oysters and altering the marine environment.
Another example of the negative effect of fish farming on native fish population and environment is with Tilapia. Tilapia is one of the most common types of farmed fish. Most of our tilapia supply is imported from Latin American and Asia, and in 2015, Americans ate 475 million pounds of tilapia.
Tilapia is a warm-water fish native to Africa, but in the last 60 years the governments of poor tropical countries saw the fish as a solution to control weeds and mosquitoes in lakes and rivers, breeding and releasing tilapia into these areas. They are now seen as a nuisance, as they are one of the “most invasive species known and difficult to get rid of once established,” says Aaron McNevin, a WWF biologist.
In Lake Apoyo in Nicaragua, tilapia escaped from a fish farm and their pollution and feeding reduced the lake’s quantity of an aquatic plant called charra, which was an important source of food for the lake’s native fish populations. Sixteen years later, the lake’s biota are still recovering. (3)
Spread of Disease & Antibiotic Use
Because farmed fish are raised on unnatural diets and in small enclosures they often breed disease, which can pass to wild populations. This is becoming an increasingly big problem, as are the solutions often used for these diseases.
Some aquaculture productions rely on prophylactic antibiotics to prevent infections. The use of antibiotics can cause drug resistant bacteria to develop which can spread to wild populations. (1, 2)
Another common disease is sea lice. Not to be confused with an itchy, stinging rash caused by jellyfish larvae, these sea lice are planktonic marine parasites which feed on many types of fish. There are many species but the common “salmon louse” or lepeophtheirus salmonis, has become a big problem for both wild and farmed salmon populations. About a centimeter in size, the sea lice attach themselves to the outside of a fish and feed on its mucous, blood, and skin. (16)
This can cause serious damage to fins, erosion of skin, constant bleeding, and open wounds at risk of infection. On an adult fish this may be only a nuisance, but for small juvenile salmon (around the size of a finger), sea lice can be fatal. (15)
Before offshore industrial scale fisheries became big business in the 1970s, sea lice were rarely epidemic to fish populations. Of course, when hundreds, or even thousands of fish are crowded together in a small area, sea lice, and other diseases can easily spread from fish to fish. (14)
This problem not only impacts food supply and fish industry profits, it is spreading to wild fish populations. One example is the salmon in the Broughton Archipelago, a group of islands 260 miles northwest of Vancouver, British Columbia.
In 2007 the area had 20 active fish farms, which raised between 500,000 and 1.5 million fish each. As juvenile wild salmon swam past these open-net farms on their way down river towards the sea, the sea lice infecting the farmed salmon attached to them. A study done that year found that the number of wild pink salmon were down 80% since 1970 because of sea lice infestations. The study concluded that at this rate the wild salmon in the area would die off in four generations or by 2015. While the conclusions of this study were not without controversy, it did seem that the salmon populations recovered when the farms idled. (15)
As sea lice became a problem in fisheries around the world, an unfortunately common solution was employed: pesticides. One chemical commonly used was emamectin benzoate, or Slice, which when administered to rats and dogs causes tremors, spinal deterioration and muscle atrophy.
Of course soon the lice became resistant, and Slice only worked in triple doses. Other chemicals like hydrogen peroxide, Salmosan, AlphaMax and Calicide chemicals have been employed instead.
While we know that these chemicals can negatively affect ocean water and plant species, we don’t have enough research to know how much of these chemicals are absorbed and retained by the fish and if any of this passes to those who eat the fish. (14)
Fish Farming: Effects on Fish
As you might imagine, most species of fish don’t thrive when being raised in extremely cramped pens, fed commercial feed, and treated with pesticides, antibiotics and other chemicals. We now know that thees modern practices negatively affect the fish as well as their environment.
Higher Levels of Omega-6
Like all animals, fish are what they eat. The nutrition of our food depends on the nutrition of our food’s food. For example, salmon in the wild eat smaller fish, which eat aquatic plants rich in beneficial long chain omega-3 fatty acids DHA and EPA. Farm-raised salmon eat pellets, and as the nutritional quality of pellets varies, so does the nutritional quality of the fish. Often young salmon are fed pellets made from plant and animal sources, and they receive more expensive fish/fish oil enriched pellets later in their lifespan just before harvest. (7)
New commercial fish feeds are more likely to have protein and oils derived from grains and oilseeds (like soybeans and canola) and with less fishmeal and fish oil. The difference in feeds accounts for why one study that measured the omega-3 contentment of fish species from six regions of the US found large variations in the omega-3 content in the five salmon species tested. (7, 8)
In the two farm raised varieties tested the omega-3 ranged from 717 mg to 1,533 mg per 100 grams of fish (which is equal to a 3.5 oz serving). Compared to the wild-caught varieties, these farmed fish tended to have higher levels of omega-3s but only because the farmed salmon have more fat overall, including higher levels of omega-6 polyunsaturated fats and saturated fats. (7)
Feeds from vegetable sources can be more sustainable than fishmeal and fish oil. These are often made from smaller fish, lower on the food chain which are sometimes called reduction, pelagic, or trash fish. To create 1kg (2.2 lbs) of fishmeal it takes 4.5 kg (10 lbs) of smaller fish. In fact, today at least 37% of global seafood is ground up to make feed. In 1948 that number was only 7.7%. (4)
These lower food chain fish are the food for many species of aquatic life, and depleting them may cause serious implications for aquatic ecosystems and other sea animals including birds and mammals. (6)
PCBs and POPs
PCBs (polychlorinated biphenys) are industrial pollutants that find their way into fresh waters and oceans and then are absorbed by aquatic wildlife. PCBs are a type of POP (persistent organic pollutant). (10)
Type 2 diabetes and obesity have been linked to POPs, and certain types increase the risk of stroke in women. PCBs are potential human carcinogens, and known to promote cancer in animals. Other potential health effects include negative effects on the reproductive, nervous, and immune systems plus impaired memory and learning. (9, 10)
One study found that PCB levels in farmed salmon, especially those in Europe were five to ten times higher than PCBs in wild salmon. Follow-up studies haven’t confirmed this, and there are now strict rules on contaminant levels in feed ingredients which have lowered PCBs in these fish. (8, 9, 10)
It is best to avoid these chemicals completely, but most PCBs are found in the skin, so if farmed raised fish is the only option available, it is possible to reduce exposure by removing the skin and by avoiding fried fish. (10)
Things to Consider When Selecting Seafood
As if the various concerns associated with fish farming weren’t enough, there are other important factors to consider when sourcing any kind of seafood.
Mercury toxicity can impact brain development in children and negatively affect cognitive function in adults. Mercury is found in the muscle of the fish. The biomagnification of mercury means that organisms higher on the food chain contain higher levels of the metal. (5, 10)
One way to consume seafood yet reduce mercury exposure is by eating smaller fish lower on the food chain, such as sardines. See the resources section at the bottom of this post for a list of fish ranked by their mercury levels.
The Selenium Myth
Many of us in the real-food community have heard that mercury is only a concern if there is not selenium present in the fish, and since most seafood also has high levels of selenium we shouldn’t be concerned about mercury.
Dr. Christopher Shade, recently confirmed in an interview with Chris Kresser that this is not the case. He verified that those who are deficient in selenium will be more susceptible to mercury toxicity; however, having good selenium levels doesn’t prevent someone from getting mercury toxicity from seafood. Nor does the selenium in seafood bind the mercury and therefore prevent us from absorbing the toxic metal. (5)
One important way the body rids itself of mercury is via glutathione, the body’s self produced master-antioxidant. It is therefore important to support this pathway by consuming sulfur containing vegetables like onions and brassicas, and good amounts of vitamin C.
Omega-3s are very important for health, and should be consumed in proper ratio with Omega-6 fatty acids. Statistically, most of us consume too much Omega-6 and not enough Omega-3, which some experts blame as one of the root causes of many modern diseases. Fish are an excellent natural source of Omega-3s, but there is a wide range of levels depending on the fish. When choosing seafood, it helps to know which fish have the highest levels of these beneficial fats. (For a list of fish ranked by levels of Omega-3s see the resources section at the end of this post.)
While farmed fish have obvious drawbacks there are also sustainability concerns about wild caught fish.
One of the major concerns is overfishing which has become a global problem. Obviously it becomes difficult to eat the fish if they don’t exist, but fewer populations of certain species can have repercussions for an entire ecosystem. (19)
Another issue is bycatch, which is when non-target animals are caught during fishing. This can include dolphins, sea turtles, birds, sharks, stingrays, and other fish like juvenile fish.The incidence of bycatch can be reduced by the use of selective fishing gear designed to catch only the species selected and implementing measures to return the native species.
Habitat destruction can degrade aquatic ecosystems, as seabed habitats provide shelter and food for a variety of species. One fishing method that is a common culprit is bottom trawling near vulnerable areas like coral reefs or breeding and nursing grounds. (19)
By now your head is probably spinning and you are asking yourself: So how do I know if the seafood I’m buying is both responsible and healthy? Do these even exist?
As you can see, it is a complex issue. It goes beyond farmed or wild-caught and can change depending on the region where the fish is caught, the variety, the producer, and so on.
Canned Seafood Considerations
Buying canned fish is a good way to eat high quality fish on a budget. However, sure to select cans that are BPA free. Another thing to look for is if they are canned in oil, as to preserve omega-3s it is typically preferable to purchase fish that is canned in water.
Resources for Finding Quality Seafood
Seafood Watch makes choosing seafood a lot easier. Seafood is labeled as either green (best choice), yellow (good alternative) and red (avoid) depending on the variety’s sustainability. They then list the fishing method, and the location. They also have an app for your smartphone (search your app store).
(Source: USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference)
Any Good Options?
There may be some responsible and healthy options for farmed seafood, especially with Shrimp. A reader Linda researched one brand, Henry and Lisa’s and found this out:
“I called Henry and Lisa’s at EcoFish.com and had a long talk with them about their shrimp farm and their practices. I was very impressed with them, although it is hard to verify information from a company that is so little known. However I did find this article by the National Resources Defense Council and they have some hopeful things to say about this matter.
The article is entitled, “MEALS OF MASS DESTRUCTION: SHRIMP”. Henry Lovejoy, (founder of EcoFish and Henry & Lisa’s) is singled out in paragraphs 10 and 14 as an example of responsible shrimp farming and this company is recommended over wild caught shrimp.”
The Bottom Line on Fish Farming
So what’s the verdict?
Wild caught seafood is preferable, both for the environment and for health, as we still don’t know the full impact of large scale commercial fish farming. There are some farming techniques that may be viable options in the future, especially for those on a budget, but current methods have a drastic impact on native seafood species and on the ocean ecosystem.
Seafood can also be a more expensive protein source, especially when choosing wild-caught options, but inexpensive, low-mercury and non-farmed canned sardines can fit into almost any budget.
When choosing wild-caught seafood, consult the above resources and decide on the varieties that work for your wallet and your taste-buds, and then go enjoy those brain-boosting Omega-3s!
Thousands of well-wishers gathered in Windsor as Prince Harry wed Meghan in St George's Chapel on Saturday afternoon.
More than 110,000 people filled the town's streets with about 67,000 train trips made in and out of Windsor's two stations on Saturday, according to the council.
Meanwhile, an average of 11 million viewers watched on BBC or ITV at any one time.
Mr Lubomirski is normally found shooting for fashion magazines like Vogue and Harpers Bazaar and can count celebrities including Beyoncé, Julia Roberts, Nicole Kidman and Scarlett Johansson among his subjects.
According to his website, in 2014 he published a book called 'Princely advice for a happy life', written for his sons, about behaving like a 21st Century prince.
Meghan's pure white, boat neck gown was designed by British designer Clare Waight Keller, the first female artistic director of French fashion house Givenchy.
A five metre-long white silk veil - which covered her face as she entered the chapel - included embroidered floral detail representing all 53 countries of the Commonwealth.
This was kept in place by Queen Mary's diamond encrusted bandeau tiara, loaned to her by the Queen.