More seafood a worthwhile resolution

David Minato argues that one of the simplest and most impactful life changes is to increase the amount of seafood in our diets.

Dear editor,

As many of us look at the New Year as a time to set goals and make lifestyle changes, two recent reports highlight one of the easiest healthy choices to make: eating more seafood.

Seafood is a lean, nutritious source of protein. It’s easy to prepare, tastes great and is good for you. Salmon, for example, is a heart-healthy protein that’s a good source of Omega-3 fatty acids.

Despite all those benefits, a new report from the Conference Board of Canada shows not only are Canadians not getting enough seafood in their diet – seafood consumption in Canada is declining. The report notes that fish consumption in Canada has been dropping for the last decade. Only 12 per cent of Canadians meet Canada’s Food Guide recommendations for consumption of 150 grams per week. This has implications for our fisheries and aquaculture sectors and, more importantly, for people’s health.

The Canadian Aquaculture Industry Alliance recently released a report that found higher seafood consumption could save 5,000 Canadian lives each year – and that’s just by getting the recommended minimum weekly intake of heart-healthy fish. By eating more fish high in Omega-3 fats per week up to 7,000 lives per year could be saved. That’s a big number from such a small lifestyle change.

The question for some then becomes which seafood, and from where, is the best choice? The answer: all seafood is good for you – whether farm-raised or wild caught.

The challenge is to encourage increased seafood consumption while not putting too much pressure on our wild stocks to ensure they survive into the future. Increasingly the world has been turning to aquaculture to provide an alternative supply of seafood to meet the growing demand and take pressure off wild fish stocks. More than 50 per cent of seafood eaten today is farmed and that number is set to rise.

There are more than seven billion people living on earth and the United Nations predicts that the world’s population will rise to nine billion by 2050. This growth will continue to put pressure on the world’s food supply. As the demand for seafood increases, aquaculture will ensure that demand is met. That means a reliable, year-round supply of seafood that’s an affordable choice for Canadian families.

Salmon farmers on Vancouver Island are in a unique position to help meet the growing demand. As we know, our coast offers significant opportunity to raise fish, while also creating jobs and supporting coastal communities.

As many of us begin to think about our New Year’s resolutions, eating more seafood, including salmon, is an easy, healthy choice that we can resolve to make for 2014.

David Minato

B.C. Salmon Farmers Association