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Ask Tufts Experts November 2012 Issue

Q: Should Atlantic sardines be avoided in favor of Pacific sardines? If so, why?

Answer :  The choice of Pacific over Atlantic sardines comes from concerns about the health of the oceans, rather than the health of consumers. The Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch www.montereybayaquarium.org/cr/cr_seafoodwatch/sfw_recommendations.aspx?c=ln advises avoiding Atlantic sardines for now because “these fish come from sources that are overfished or fished or farmed in ways that harm the environment.… Many populations of Atlantic sardines in the Mediterranean are declining due to overfishing. This, and ineffective fishery management, result in an ‘Avoid’ ranking.” Instead, Seafood Watch suggests, choose Pacific sardines from US waters, rated a “Best Choice”: “These fish are abundant, well managed and fished or farmed in environmentally friendly ways.”

The Environmental Defense Fund www.edf.org adds that Pacific sardines are low in contaminants and high in heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids: “Adults and children can safely eat more than four meals per month” containing these fish.

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