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Not enough fish to meet health advisories

March 17, 2009 at 12:32 PM   |   Comments

TORONTO, March 17 (UPI) -- If everyone increased their fish consumption 2 to 3 times as recommended for health benefits, the world would run out of fish, Canadian researchers said.

Dr. David Jenkins of St. Michael's Hospital in Toronto and colleagues said that recommendations to increase fish consumption because of health benefits may not be environmentally sustainable and more research is needed to clarify the benefits of omega-3 fatty acids. In 2004, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration gave "qualified health claim" status to omega−3 fatty acids, stating that "supportive but not conclusive research shows that consumption fatty acids may reduce the risk of coronary heart disease."

The study authors point out that even at current fish consumption levels, global fisheries are in severe crisis as demand outstrips supply and declining stocks are being diverted from local markets to affluent markets, with serious consequences for the food security of poorer countries and coastal communities.

Global stocks have been declining since the late 1980s and there have been more than 100 cases of marine extinctions, Jenkins said.

"These trends imply the collapse of all commercially exploited stocks by mid-century," the study authors said in a statement. "Yet the dire status of fisheries resources is largely unrecognized by the public, who are both encouraged to eat more fish and are misled into believing we live in a sea of plenty."

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