Help me find antibiotic free fish
July 3, 2011 9:50 PM   Subscribe

What kinds of fish cannot be farmed? What kinds of fish are antibiotic free?

I've done quite a bit of searching but can only come up with list of safe and unsafe fish, mostly to do with mercury levels and other toxic substances. I'm interested in fish that are killed upon capture or shortly thereafter on the boat before processing. I've heard, for example, that Mackerel cannot be farmed or kept in aquariums because they are too sensitive and tend to die quickly. But also, I'm aware that there are mackerel farms off the coast of China. What I'm looking for are fish that are not administered antibiotics in any form along the way to the dinner table. I have a rare disorder where I can't digest about half of pharmaceuticals and am trying to be more strict in my avoidance. I live on an island in the Pacific and there are much in the way of product labels here and when I ask fishermen directly I get mixed information. Thanks! Oh, and I know that their are trace levels of antibiotics in everything, it's more of direct administration, through feeding, etc. that I'm concerned about.
posted by manwoo to Health & Fitness (15 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Without labels, it is hard to say. I pay too much so that my tuna was caught line skipp-jacked . Not sure what that means but it sure makes them smell a lot more fishier than Chicken of the Sea. Can you connect with any of the local fisherman on your island? Perhaps they not be doing industrialized fishing yet? You want fish that aren't factory farmed, fish caught in their natural shrinking habitat that haven't been force fed to make it to your plate on time

I can't find it right now but I had a list that showed what the safest fish to eat where - kind explained that by the time you got up to the tuna, they were carrying a pretty dense mercury load.

In America, they are theoretically supposed to label these types of tings.
posted by Sylvia Plath's terrible fish at 10:05 PM on July 3, 2011

I also heard that Tilapia are really heavily farmed. They are easy to fatten up quicky and don't cause fights. My mom told me never to eat Tilapia - that it is all from factory farms.
posted by Sylvia Plath's terrible fish at 10:07 PM on July 3, 2011

If you live on an island in the pacific, just buy local fish. Very very few fish would be farmed near you. Additionally, you could supplement with tinned alaskan salmon, tinned skipjack and/or albacore tuna, and frozen hoki. There are all antibiotic free.
posted by smoke at 10:12 PM on July 3, 2011

The American eel, Anguilla rostrata, cannot be farmed. You're kind of on the wrong ocean for it, though.
posted by easy, lucky, free at 10:35 PM on July 3, 2011

All Alaskan seafood is wild — they don't have farms — so if it's labelled "Alaskan" (and isn't counterfeit) then it shouldn't have any antibiotics other than what it might've ingested randomly at sea.
posted by mumkin at 10:52 PM on July 3, 2011 [1 favorite]

Sockeye Salmon. Also Pink and Chum. NOT ATLANTIC SALMON, which is almost all farmed. Coho and Chinook can go either way, though they're probably wild. If it just says "salmon" it's probably Atlantic and probably not for you.
posted by the thing about it at 11:05 PM on July 3, 2011 [1 favorite]

I'd assume anything labeled "wild" or "organic" would work. If you don't have that level of labeling, avoid tilapia and salmon (if you can't verify it's Alaskan, not Atlantic, salmon).
posted by J. Wilson at 11:12 PM on July 3, 2011

I should clarify that Alaska does have salmon hatcheries, however, to augment the natural runs. The juvenile fish are released into the wild to grow to adulthood. I can't find clear information about what goes into the pellets that hatchery fish eat while in captivity — it’s possible that some drugs are involved. There seems to be something of a media war between British Columbian salmon farmers (who are obviously pro-aquaculture) and the Alaskan seafood industry (which relies on being “wild” and vilifying farming), so there's a fair bit of FUD and chaff out there.
posted by mumkin at 11:21 PM on July 3, 2011

The walleye (a kind of pike) found in lakes in Minnesota cannot be farmed, but the only place you'd ever find it for sale is within an hour or so of lakes in Northern Minnesota and maybe one or two restaurants in Minneapolis. So good.....
posted by pandabearjohnson at 12:25 AM on July 4, 2011

Sylvia Plath's terrible fish, Skipjack isn’t a method of fishing, it is a species of tuna, which has darker flesh and a fishier taste than, say, albacore tuna.
posted by cilantro at 1:41 AM on July 4, 2011 [2 favorites]

Wild fish may be free of antibiotics, but they are not necessarily something you want to eat. Harmful parasite common in cod fish: People who eat cod containing the worm can suffer stomach pains, diarrhoea and fever. In the most serious cases it can eat its way through the stomach lining and move into other areas of the body.

Apparently this parasite - entirely natural to the environment and carried by seals - is now commonly being found in cod and increasingly in fish other than cod. It is difficult to kill with cold or heat and even when dead can cause serious malady if ingested. There are recent accusations in the Swedish media that the Atlantic fishing industry has been knowingly downplaying the risks associated with this parasite.

Any cod sold where you live is caught and frozen up here so maybe something to think about as you ponder wild alternatives.
posted by three blind mice at 5:07 AM on July 4, 2011

The easiest way of working out what species of fish cannot be farmed is to start with a list of those that can be (about 100 on this list) - and look for those not on it. Basically if a fish has a viable market amongst consumers you can bet that people have tried very hard to farm it - but it those species in the top 10 for global fish farming that really make the big impression.

If you want to dig further that are a number of books on "sustainable aquaculture". The world leaders, in that respect, are probably the Chinese who have been raising fish and the plants that they eat together for over 5,000 years.
posted by rongorongo at 5:33 AM on July 4, 2011

Maybe put where you live in your profile.
Island in the Pacific covers an almighty big area.
If you are near the coast on this island which I presume you will be, why not go to the local fish market or wherever the fishing boats come ashore and ask if the fish is farmed or not?
Mefi is so global that the chances are that someone will have visited or know where you live and say go there and ask so and so for x.
posted by adamvasco at 8:03 AM on July 4, 2011

Ahhh, thank you Cilantro. It was recommended to me without explanation so I guess I came up with one on my own!
posted by Sylvia Plath's terrible fish at 8:15 AM on July 4, 2011

Lobster and crayfish/crawfish (the big orange spiky ones that don't have claws) can't be farmed, but they don't meet your 'killed on capture' requirement. And of course they aren't fish either, but they are wild non-filter-feeding seafood and I'm not aware of any health risks associated with eating them.

If you're on an island where you can meet local fishermen, and they actually go and catch fish in the open sea locally, then those aren't farmed fish. If they work on big boats that go out for weeks at a time, those definitely aren't farmed fish. If you can see fish farms in the water near your island, and these 'fishermen' are just going out to the fish farms in little boats, then yeah, don't buy their fish.
posted by Lebannen at 3:26 PM on July 4, 2011

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