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Is Your Freshly Caught Fish Safe for Consumption?

December 23, 2014

Seafood makes up an essential and nutritious part of any balanced diet. Fish contains high amounts of essential omega-3 fatty acids and other high-quality proteins that keep our minds and bodies performing at their best. Though there’s always the option to buy fish from your local store, freshly-caught seafood provides an even healthier option. However, it’s important to remember that even freshly-caught fish need to be treated with the same caution and safety measures as fish obtained from anywhere else.

In Victoria, those who get their fresh-caught fish from the Lower Yarra River and Maribyrnong areas should apply extra-special precautions as certain fish in these areas have exhibited high levels of toxins such as polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and mercury. When catching your own fish, avoid using lead-sinkers, and try to make informed decisions about the kind of seafood you capture and consume.

Fish and PCBs

Although PCBs, (industrial by-products of pollution) are capable of building up within the fatty tissues of any fish, some are more prone to this issue than others are.

For example, eels are generally at a higher level of risk in these Victorian rivers, because they contain a higher fat composition than other seafood caught in the area.

Studies conducted during 2005 found that approximately two in every fifteen eels that were caught in the Maribyrnong and Lower Yarra areas contained such a substantial amount of accumulated PCB that they were actually unsafe for consumption.

At the other end of the risk scale are fish such as mullet. Mullet contains some of the lowest levels of PCB of any fish caught in the area.

Crucially, women who are of child-bearing age or pregnant should avoid eating eels that have been caught from the Maribyrnong and Lower Yarra  rivers.

Everyone else should be careful to limit their degree of consumption to no more than one serving of eel per month. If you do choose to eat eel, make sure that you carefully clean and prepare the fish before cooking, and remove any excess fatty tissue.