Navigating the increasingly murky waters of sustainable seafood isn’t an easy task, particularly when it’s abetted by grocery stores whose eco-conscious posturing doesn’t quite extend to what’s being sold at their fish counters. Fortunately, Food and Water Watch has just published its 2010 list of the so-called dirty dozen, or fish and seafood that’s unsustainable and/or laden with toxins.
This year’s (dubious) honor roll:
Imported catfish — Possibly contaminated with bacteria, pesticides, antibiotics, and assorted chemicals.
Caviar, especially from Beluga and wild-caught sturgeon — Fish populations have been severely compromised by overfishing, poaching, and pollution.
Atlantic cod — Overfished, and caught using methods that can damage seafloor life and unintentionally capture/kill other marine life.
American eel — Has high concentrations of mercury and PCBs, i.e., things you do not want in your bloodstream.
Atlantic flounder, sole, and halibut — Overfished.
Imported king crab — Typically from Russia, where it is overfished.
Imported shrimp — The vast majority (90 percent) of shrimp eaten in the U.S. is imported from countries without well-regulated employment conditions and seafood production.
Orange roughy — Contaminated with mercury, and widely overfished.
Atlantic and farmed salmon — Farmed is often compromised by PCB, antibiotic, and pesticide contamination; farming methods can also harm the surrounding environment.
Chilean sea bass — Mercury contamination, and often caught illegally in a manner that kills seabirds, including the endangered albatross.
Shark — Mercury contamination.
Atlantic bluefin tuna — Endangered and often contaminated with mercury and PCBs.