1Maryann

Am I the only one afraid of eating Pacific seafood?

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There has been zero coverage in the mainstream media, but I find all kinds of articles online about the ongoing contamination of the oceans by the Fukushima plant.  It has been shown that the radioactive coolant water has been seeping into the ground and making its way to the Pacific on a continuous basis since the event.

 

There are accounts of merchant seamen claiming large areas of the ocean are devoid of life.  I have read warnings not to consume any fish from the Pacific ocean.  Supposedly, we are not hearing these cautions from our government because there is literally nothing they can do to change the situation, and calling attention to it will only cause unnecessary panic in the population.

 

I love fish, especially wild caught salmon.  Am I unreasonably afraid of buying it?  I keep thinking of the clip where the guy took a hand-held Geiger counter to a CA beach.  It registered almost nothing in the parking area, but picked up rapidly once he crossed the dune line and chattered like mad when he got near the water.

 

I would love to hear I am just being paranoid, but I'm not sure I trust our officials to tell us the truth.

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No, you're no the only one.

 

We used to eat a lot more fish, but I have to admit that lately I haven't been feeling the love for it. We have a double whammy; I live on the FL Gulf Coast, and our waters have significantly been affected by the oil spill that no one talks about anymore. The chemical dispersants have done more damage than the oil itself! I refuse to buy Gulf seafood, especially the shrimp. This has really affected our eating.

 

I used to think I was being silly, but I have a dear friend who is a PhD marine biologist here in FL, and she's not eating the shrimp either.

 

 

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I'm on the FL Gulf Coast also, Kelly.  I also dropped shrimp from the menu.  We were far enough away to not have our shoreline affected, but the prevailing currents carry everything right past us on the way to the Florida Straits.  So no fishing in snook season, and lots of questions about the origins of grouper and snapper.  I already refused to eat farmed fish, so I'm now down to things from the North Atlantic, which aren't always easy to get here.  Too bad.  Previously, I could live on seafood.

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Yes! The only fish we've eaten lately is what my husband caught down in the Keys. Of course there still could have been contamination, but less so, hopefully. Once our freezer stock ran out, we've kept our fish consumption way down.

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:( I'm going to end up being psychotic about all my food choices.  I don't eat a lot of seafood, but have made a point of wild Pacific salmon instead of North Atlantic farmed.  Hadn't even thought about the whole radioactivity potential.  And then the gulf shrimp.   Sigh.  How about Mayport shrimp (Jacksonville, Fl)?

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Guest Wheat on Trial   
Guest Wheat on Trial

Found this thread while trying to find opinions on farmed vs. wild caught salmon. I was troubled that I couldn't find wild caught salmon at Costco yesterday (they usually have it, but this time, they only had farmed).

 

So - despite my better judgment - I bought farmed. I know there are environmental concerns, fewer omega 3's in farmed (I think I read that somewhere), etc...

 

But a google search brought up lots of articles about how farmed fish are not so bad. Like this one:

 

http://greatist.com/health/farmed-wild-salmon-health-environment

 

All of the top articles I found came in the 4th quarter of 2013. So I was feeling better about my choice until I came to this thread. Do you think there's more "positive" press on farmed salmon due to the Pacific contamination issue?

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Keep in mind the Pacific Ocean is absolutely enormous! I avoid seafood from Japan, but I eat our local stuff here in Australia, depending on origin.

 

Ask your fish farms what they feed their fish. Not all farmed fish is fed soy and nasties, some are farmed in the ocean, some inland.

 

Australia has a long history of overfishing (nearly wiping out some fish altogether), so we're more pro-farm for sustainable seafood, with salmon, oyster and abalone farms aplenty :)

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The Pacific is huge, but the prevailing currents bring that contaminated water right to the NW coast of North America.  Solid debris started washing up within months of the disaster, so we know where that water came from.  The ocean is not just a big bathtub.  The different currents act like individual rivers within the ocean, and there is very little exchange between the water in the current and the water it flows past.

 

Australia should be much safer, as the northern hemisphere currents tend to move in a clockwise motion with the return starting above the equator, where the southern hemisphere currents run counterclockwise from below the equator. 

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I did some searching about this, and most reputable sources seem to agree that fish caught off the Pacific coast of the US should be fine to eat, because of dilution.  Here's some articles that I found that might help ease your fears:

 

http://www.healthebay.org/blogs-news/mythbusting-latest-fukushima

http://newswatch.nationalgeographic.com/2013/09/11/fukushima-fallout-not-affecting-u-s-caught-fish/

http://www.npr.org/blogs/thesalt/2012/05/30/153925233/nuclear-tuna-is-hot-news-but-not-because-its-going-to-make-you-sick

 

Also, if you haven't seen it, this chart from XKCD is pretty useful in terms of visualizing the effects of different levels of radiation:

 

http://xkcd.com/radiation/

 

Personally, I try to stick to the Monterey Bay Aquarium's Seafood Watch recommendations.  They update them every six months, and they do a good job of letting you know which seafood is okay to eat, both in terms of fishing impacts and health impacts:

 

http://www.seafoodwatch.org/cr/cr_seafoodwatch/sfw_recommendations.aspx

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There's also lots of little pacific island nations that export lots of seafood, but aren't close to Japan :)

 

Cold water fish also tend to be closer to the bottom or top of the globe, rather than in the middle.

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 I keep thinking of the clip where the guy took a hand-held Geiger counter to a CA beach.  It registered almost nothing in the parking area, but picked up rapidly once he crossed the dune line and chattered like mad when he got near the water.

 

I would love to hear I am just being paranoid, but I'm not sure I trust our officials to tell us the truth.

 

As a degreed nuclear engineer, with experience with radiation detection, there are two possible things at play here:

-For dramatic effect, this individual may have increased the count sensitivity of the Geiger counter by an order of magnitude or two. This is a fun trick we liked to play on classmates in college.

-There is a lot of natural radioactivity in the ocean already. I would challenge him to take another reading of the Atlantic.

 

There is a small portion of the ocean off Japan that is affected, but no fishing is happening there. Beyond that small area, the concentrations are so tiny that it is barely detectable.

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I did a quick Google search, and found many sources that say that the high radiation levels that the Geiger counter showed are from a different source of radiation than what would be from Fukushima.

 

http://geigercounter.com/california-beach-radiation-fukushima/

http://rt.com/usa/fukushima-geiger-california-radiation-238/

 

To quote:

 

"The radionuclides are in the NORM class of radioactive substances, not from Fukushima. NORM stands for Naturally Occurring Radioactive Material.   We put a sample in a Multichannel Analyzer and found Radium 226 and Thorium 232....If the sand were contaminated by radiation from Fukushima it would show Cesium 137."

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Frankly I'd be more worried about water pollution than radiation. Some places have absolutely filthy fishing waters. Many years ago, Australia's Sydney Harbor stopped being a food source due to pollution (much better now), as they allowed people to dump stuff right where people were fishing for food.

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I like to get my science news from science websites, there's too much "interpretation" of data from people who aren't journalists on the others, some of it just to get page views or sell copies of their magazine.

 

The mentioned article is for a non-peer reviewed journal, so it's not even a scientific paper that the non-scientific NYT is writing about, that another news site is commenting on the NYT coverage of :( 

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