In an op-ed essay in the Times today, Paul Greenberg calls attention to one manufacturer of fish oil supplements who may be threatening the entire ecosystem of the Atlantic coast. Omega Protein of Houston can claim 90 percent of the menhaden caught in the last decade. Menhaden is a “big-headed, smelly, foot-long member of the herring family” that forms the basis of the food chain for all Atlantic coast fishery. All but two Atlantic states have banned the company from fishing in their waters, but they still have rights to fish off the Virginia and North Carolina coasts, and in federal waters, where Omega Protein are netting a half billion menhaden each year. Greenberg points to several more sustainable ways of getting those all-important Omega-3 fatty acids into your diet, like flax seeds, flax seed oil supplements, or fish oil supplements that are made from fish discards. So read your labels, and add fish oil pills to your list of fish-related items to be environmentally anxious about.
A Fish Oil Story [NYT]