A sober analysis from four Canadian Universities in this St Patrick’s Day issue of the CMAJ warns against zealous promotion of fish intake in the face of dwindling global fish resources.
There can be little doubt that, in adequately nourished western communities, fish oil- the EPA-DHA omega3– is the single most important essential multisystemic “micronutrient” from conception to grave, for both intellectual, mood, reproductive, immunity and healthspan optimization.
Just as it was once, but no longer is, the staple diet of the Western hemisphere billion people (the Americas and Europe), fish is the staple diet of Asia and the subcontinent, as it was in Africa till the fish, and most people, got wiped out by external and despotic African greed.
The overwhelming bulk of world fish production is sucked up by the eastern hemisphere. Except for the tiny affluent minority, fresh fish – especially those rich in oil- is unaffordable to most humans other than those still able to catch fish for personal consumption at sea- or riverside. . However, the Canadian analysis overlooks harsh facts that need to be confronted at WHO level, if the “haves” give a tinkers’ damn about the poor:
Most fish is distributed processed to be low in oil ie canned if not powdered as fish meal. Since the benefit of fish oil is destroyed by traditional (plant oil) deep frying or high-heat baking, or lost in grilling, little fish now consumed globally has significant fish oil content- oily fish eaten as sushi or eg raw herring.
Fish oil on the other hand is the inevitable “waste product” of factories, the spilloff of canneries and fishmeal production. Virtually no canned fish available locally has much more than 1% fish oil left – worse, the fish oil is often replaced by saline or, worse, plant omega6. And who eats the residual juice/ oil in the can?
Yes, it will take 40 tons of fish oil a day to supply just 1gm of fish oil (about 250mg EPA-DHA) a day for every South African – and local harvests of the oil-rich pelagic fish- if not already too contaminated with heavy metals, dioxin etc- have plummeted apparently by 90% due to massive overfishing for the Asian market, aggravated no doubt by pollution and global warming and poaching .
But worse, the lunatic money-mad Western-led industrial complex -that has for 50 years (despite the availability of nuclear, solar and battery power) refused to budge from oil-driven vehicles and power supplies- has made huge inroads into competing with the food chain for scarce marine omega3 oil, even for krill and algae sources. And the majority of humans cannot compete for fish oil with the prices that the haves – car owners, airlines, shippers, industry- will pay for oil-based energy.
So the problem is not that the 6 billion poor in the world each need a few gms of fish oil a week- say 20 million tons a week.
But according to Google search eg on Wikipedia , global world consumption of industrial oil by 2007 was up to 80 million tons a week,
whereas world fish production was about 1.4million tons/ week of which only 1/4 is oil fish- ~350 000 tons /week
and world fish oil production was probably at peak a million tons a year in 2005 ie 20 000 tons a week .
So the nightmare problem that the Canadian analysis avoids is that the Eastern hemisphere (like the western affluent) will pay any price for their staple fish; and the world population needs 15 times as much fish oil for consumption as was peak world fish oil output; and the terrorist world industrial complex (G20) wants to go on using 100million tons of industrial oil a week– for energy as well as plastics-
and prey for industrial oil on the tiny world marine fish oil reserves – which produce about 0.025% of the weekly world oil output…
when world fish oil production is falling, now down to 0.1% of ideal global fish oil intake for all humans.
It is mindboggling to imagine to what extent average learning and behavioural skills have fallen accross childhood and adulthood – in both affluent and poor communities -as a result of declining (fish) brainfood intake. The dramatic benefit of modest (3gm/day) fishoil supplementation in English and Australian children against the epidemic attention deficit disorder, and against vascular disease, mixed dementias and crippling degenerative arthritis in the aging populations, illustrates the desperate need to include fish oil for all in the basic staple diet. It is too late when academic and job failure, mood disorder, physical disability and dementia are entrenched, let alone the working prematurely dead from preventable vascular disease. .
And still there is no process in sight to mass- manufacture – at prices affordable to the masses- the crucial neeeded human EPA- DHA from plant oil or from fossil oil or from basics like water and air and sugar.
The prospect of EPA-DHA production from genetically modified algae/plants/ micro-organisms offers yet more horror prospects of (Montsano) irreversible contamination of the environment, as has happened with basics like grains.