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Oct 17

Too Many Fish In The Sea

I recently read about a situation of too many fish in the sea.

Now first you might say, how can there be too many fish in the sea when the oceans have been so heavily fished?  The population of food fish in the ocean has decreased by 2/3 in the last 40 years.

Secondly there is the question, what on Earth has this got to do with a blog on natural health?

Well, there is a logical answer to both questions.

Because of over fishing, this huge reduction of fish in the ocean has occurred. The little fish that would normally be their food have consequently multiplied out of hand.  there are literally too many small fish like anchovy, herring, smelt, capelin, sardines and the like.  This over concentration of small fish has resulted in shortages of plankton and other small organisms that they eat.  It is similar to livestock over grazing an area to leave a desert behind.

This situation now leads to two other problems. 1)  Whales (who also eat plankton and other small organisms) are dying out from starvation or beaching themselves in their desperate search for food.  2) A severe lessening of free oxygen in the ocean as the oxygen is created by the plankton that are in short supply.

These populations of smaller fish have actually more than doubled in those same 40 years that the big fish have been diminishing.

You see, the big fish eat the little ones, so the little ones naturally multiply faster.  Sort of like rabbits who multiply rapidly to offset so many of them falling to predators.  Because we humans are eating the big fish faster than they can reproduce, the little ones have actually gotten out of hand.

There are many examples of this in the world.  Ridding some areas of predator hawks and coyotes to protect small farm animals has led to rapid increase in rabbit and mice populations which have caused other problems as bad, or worse, than the ones which were originally being solved.

Now for the question as to what this has to do with a blog on natural health.

Did you know that these small fish can be very tasty and are also quite healthy to eat?  Much more so than the large predator fish like tuna, cod and salmon.  They are generally higher in good omega 3 oils than their larger brethren and normally have a lesser amount of contaminants such as mercury that tend to concentrate in the fish higher on the food chain.  You also don’t find these small fry being raised in fish farms.  This means that there are no antibiotics or other toxic concentrations that you often get with farmed fish.

Herring has long been a delicacy in some parts of the world.  Pickled herring recipes have been handed down from antiquity in Scandinavian lands and the British Isles.  Anchovy and Sardines are relished in Mediterranean lands such as Italy and Spain.  We usually see them only in cans and they can be difficult to find fresh.  And when was the last time you even heard of someone preparing smelt or capelin?

Many of these smaller fish are primarily used for pet food.  But if we people were to eat more of them ourselves and less of the larger fish, it could help to balance out the problem.

So, it is actually possible to eat healthier, help to replenish the oceans and save the whales besides.  But it just might take a lot of people learning to include sardines and herring in their diets.

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