Farm-Raised Or Wild-Caught Fish. What’s The Difference?
Both farmed-raised fish and wild-caught fish have their pros and cons.
Wild-caught fish are caught in their natural environments by fisherman. They feed on a natural diet of smaller fish and algae and come into contact with less bacteria and parasites and therefore are often healthier, with less contamination. The downside is that many larger wild fish are high in mercury, and poor fishing methods can harm the ocean habitat and result in overfishing.
Mercury is a naturally occurring toxin that enters waters primarily through rain and runoff. To limit mercury from wild-caught fish you should avoid larger fish that have eaten smaller mercury-containing fish such as king mackerel, swordfish, and orange roughy.
Farm-raised fish are grown in pens, as pictured above, that are often submerged in ponds, lakes, and salt water. Recent studies have concluded that farm-raised fish can have more contamination from toxic chemicals, such as PBCs (polychlorinated biphenyls).
Farm-raised fish are mostly raised in crowded conditions and contain higher levels of bacteria, pesticides, and antibiotics. However, many farmed fish are now grown in a more environmentally friendly and healthy way. Still, consumers should be cautious of some international farm-raised fish because of differing standards than the U.S. The U.S. standards are strictly regulated.
One of the best resources for seafood choices is the Seafood Watch at the Monterey Bay Aquarium. Here are some of their best choices as well as well the fish they recommend avoiding.
Wild salmon (Alaska and New Zealand)
Bass: Stripped (US hook and line, farmed)
Cod: Pacific (Alaska)
Trout: Rainbow (US Farmed)
Tuna: Albacore (troll, pole and line)
Cod: Pacific (Japan, Russia)
Halibut: Atlantic (wild)
Mahi Mahi (imported)
Salmon: Atlantic (farmed)
Tuna: Albacore (imported except troll, pole, and line)