There are millions of people that believe in the countless benefits of fishing, but the documentary by Nicolas Daniel – “Fillet-Oh-Fish”, tries to show us a different image of the fish industry.
It seems that fisheries fight a lot of issues nowadays, as chemical pollution, genetic mutations, toxins, and overfishing. But, despite that, the fish business is constantly increasing, because of the effort that modern fisheries make to keep their industry out of public sight.
The documentary starts in Norway and investigates the chemicals that are being used in fish farms. Kurt Oddekalv is a Norwegian environmental activist and he claims that salmon farming processes pose a risk to the environment and to the human health.
There is a 150-meter-high layer of waste below the salmon farms, which is full of bacteria, pesticides, and drugs. This goes across the Norwegian fjords, and it indicates that the sea floor is destroyed by the pollution that they cause.
2 million salmon can be held in a small space, and these crowded conditions can cause some form of diseases which can spread quickly among the fish.
Oddekalv says that consumers are uninformed, because Salmon Anemia Virus, pancreas disease, and sea lice have spread across Norway, but the contaminated fish is still sold. In order to fight the pests, the producers use pesticides that are extremely harmful, which make salmon one of the most toxic foods out there.
Jerome Ruzzin, a toxicology researcher has tested different food groups that are sold in Norway, and he confirmed these claims. Salmon contain the greatest amounts of toxins. It is in fact, five times more toxic than other tested foods and Ruzzin claims that the increased rates of diabetes are often times linked to the pollutants and the toxins that we are exposed to.
The pesticides are being used to stave off sea lice, but they affect the fish’s DNA, which in turn, leads to genetic mutations. The nutritional content is also abnormal. Farmed salmon contains 15 to 34% fat, compared to the 5 to 7 percent in wild salmon. It is important to note that the fat is the place where most of the toxins accumulate.
Another source of toxic exposure is the dry pellet food because it contains numerous chemicals, dioxins, drugs, and PCBs. The main consumer of a Norwegian fish pellet plant is the eel, which is packed with protein and fat, like many Baltic sea fish. The bad thing is that the Baltic is very polluted, and the Norwegian government strongly advises people to eat fatty fish, no more than once every week.
There are nine other industrialized countries that drop their waste in the Baltic sea, and because of the fact that dioxins bind to fat, eel, salmon, and herring are more prone to the accumulation of these toxins. Because they cannot be used for human consumption, they are often times used as fish food.
Another problem is the process of manufacturing pellets. The fatty fish is cooked, which will create 2 products: oil and protein meal. The protein powder just adds to the toxicity and the oil is packed with ingredients like PCBs and dioxins.
One of the biggest fish food industry secrets is the fact they the protein powder is packed with ethoxyquin, which is an “antioxidant” that has been developed as a pesticide in the 1950s. An anti-fraud laboratory in Switzerland conducted a study which showed that farmed fish contain extremely high amounts of it, in some cases 10 to 20 times more than the allowed limit.
It is a pesticide that was designed to be used on vegetables and fruits only, but it was added to fish food in order to prevent the fats from going rancid. This is a practice that was never revealed to the health authorities, and because of that, it was never regulated by law.
A study was conducted on ethoxyquin and the effects that it has on the human health, and it was done by Victoria Bohhe, Ph.D. The research found that it will cross the blood-brain barrier and it can lead to cancer. Bohne was then pressured to leave the research and they even tried to downplay and falsify her findings.
The lack of scientific investigation and the use of this pesticide have been linked to the Norwegian Minister of Fisheries and Coastal Affairs. Lisbeth Berg-Hansen, who held a number of high ranking positions within the fishing industry. She is also a major shareholder in a commercial salmon farm.
The consumption of fish in France has doubled in the last 50 years, and it now surpasses the consumption of chicken and beef. The high demand for fish then led to the import of it from all over the world. It is important to say that more than half the fish that is being sold in France is farmed.
10 years ago, Panga was relatively unknown, but its low price helped its sales. It is being sold in the schools and the documentary addresses that question and asks for the reason for its low prices and the fact that it is being given to children.
There was a case in southern Vietnam, a part of the world where fish is an extremely common part of the cuisine. But, in the past 15 years, the exports of panga are the main income of the population there, because of the fact that Southern Vietnam accounts for 95% of the global production of this type of fish, and this process leads to both human and environmental exploitation.
The farms that raise panga are infected from diseases, because of the polluted water there. Many of the farms are located on the Mekong river, which is one of the most polluted rivers in the world.
World Wide Fund for Nature has classified panga on the red list of products in 2009, and it means that it poses a great threat to the human health, and also for the environment.
The fish’s immune systems are extremely vulnerable to the pesticides that are being used for the cultivation of rice, and the waste is being dumped directly into the Mekong river. This makes the fish sick, and in order to fight disease, the farmers use drugs into the fish ponds, which leads to drug resistance, which in turn, makes them increase the dosage. These drugs spread through the river systems and the fish’s tissues, and are then eliminated through feces. This then redistributes the drugs back into the environment.
Despite these worrying facts, fish is still considered to be one of the healthiest foods on the planet. We just need to be careful, because the industrial age poses a great risk.
In order to avoid the health risks, you need to consume fish that has a shorter life cycle, like anchovies and sardines. They are high in nutrients and they have a reduced risk of contamination. There is a rule that says that the lower on the food chain the fish is, the lower the chances of contamination it has.
You can also choose caviar and herring, which are rich sources of phospholipids, that are extremely important for the health of the mitochondrial membranes.