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Eat fish - yes or no? - What do you know about the fish on your plate?

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Never before has more fish been eaten in the world than today. Fish is also becoming increasingly popular in Switzerland. But over 95 percent of the fish we eat here are imported. The problem of overfishing is well known. Can you even eat fish with a clear conscience? Three fish professionals answer.

On a scale from 1 to 10, what rating would you give the Swiss population for their knowledge of fish?

Luca Bianchi, Fish entrepreneur: "7 to 8. The know-how is increasing, the affinity for fish has grown through traveling and television broadcasts on the subject."

Constanze Pietsch, Scientist: "At most a 5. It starts with the fact that many never dare to try the whole fish, but always buy the cut fillet."

Billo Heinzpeter Studer, President of the Fair-Fish Association: "When it comes to ecological issues and fishing, I give it a 5. When it comes to the welfare of the fish, in catching or in breeding, it is a maximum of a 3."

What do we not know about the fish on our plate that we should know?

Billo Heinzpeter Studer: “The fact that we are getting too many fish out of the oceans, overfishing, is slowly becoming part of the mind. What people are not yet aware of is, in my opinion, the suffering of the fish. The fish, as an animal capable of suffering, has a difficult time. Counting in heads, fish makes up the largest proportion of animals that we slaughter for our plate. "

We still know far too little about fish.
Author: Constanze PietschFish researcher

Constanze Pietsch: “They are further away from us than land animals, so we understand them less well. But we have a lot in common! The fish is also a vertebrate; the genes of the well-studied zebrafish are 70 percent identical to our genes. And I also believe that they have a consciousness. "

Luca Bianchi: «You have to be aware of what is behind it all. Seasonality, weather conditions that affect fishing. It seems important to me to be aware of how many steps it takes before the fish is on the plate. "

Can I still eat fish with a clear conscience?

Billo Heinzpeter Studer: «From an ecological point of view I say: a maximum of once a month. The ethical answer is probably stricter. Then I would like to know: Did this fish have it good? In the wild, there is no label that guarantees me that the fish did not have to suffer before death. And even in fish farming there is no seal that the fish could live as it would in nature. "

Luca Bianchi: "Yes absolutely. Of course you shouldn't expect too much from labels, but especially MSC for wild catch and ASC for breeding are very well-checked labels. "

Constanze Pietsch: "Yes. This is possible when sourcing from local markets and from the region. "

If I want to buy fish in the supermarket, I am inundated with labels. How can I make myself smarter?

Luca Bianchi: “NGOs and companies that have to finance themselves are also behind labels. But the ASC and MSC are well controlled. We also analyze which WWF score the fish have. The staff behind the fish counters are usually well trained and can provide information. "

I recommend eating fish no more than once a month.
Author: Billo Heinzpeter StuderPresident of the Fair-Fish Association

Billo Heinzpeter Studer: “There are also blind spots on labels like MSC, ASC or“ Friend of the Sea ”. You can in front inform the fish purchase. There are guides like the fish test from Fair-Fish. We include the well-being of the fish and take into account the fishing method, for example. "

Constanze Pietsch: "It's more difficult when you import fish from abroad and you may not have all the information about how the fish lived before it became a supermarket product."

There are more and more farmed fish in Switzerland and around the world. Every second fish that is eaten is from a farm. Is that the future?

Luca Bianchi: "Yes. I think if we move more towards breeding, we will still be able to consume the edible fish that we eat today in 20 years' time. "

Billo Heinzpeter Studer: "I am sceptical. Aquaculture is currently not a solution to overfishing. In industrialized countries, predatory fish are mainly eaten. These in turn have to be fed with fish. In the industrialized countries two to three times as much fish is needed in the feed as ends up on the plate. In addition, fish cannot have a life in breeding as they would in nature. "

Constanze Pietsch: «One should avoid fish meal from fishing. There are efforts there. We now know that predatory fish could also be fed a vegetarian diet. Each species of fish must be considered individually and there are also limits - but it is not impossible. From my point of view, a “fish-welfare” life in breeding is possible. "

Your tips for buying fish?

Luca Bianchi: “When you buy fresh fish, look him in the eye. If these are shiny, the fish is fresh. Red gills are also a sign of that. "

Constanze Pietsch: "Fish fingers are not exactly the best example of sustainable and good fish consumption."

Billo Heinzpeter Studer: «I recommend eating fish no more than once a month. Then when you eat some, enjoy it as it is. Don't ruin it with too much roast, spice and lemon juice! "

Radio SRF 3, program “Input”, February 14, 2021, 8 p.m.

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  • Comment from Paul Schoenenberger (Beaumont)
    There is probably a lot to discuss. I think it is nonsense to prohibit the import of fresh lobster but to allow lobster cooked abroad. What's the difference?
    Agree Agree to the comment Select answers to reply to the comment
  • Comment from Claus Prochazka (expiry date 1007)
    The sea fish is still edible, but the fish from aquaculture is fed with what it would never eat if it were to swim freely, and it is also drunk with medication.
    The fishermen from Lake Constance vehemently oppose the fish farming proposed by the state. Also because Lake Constance is also a supplier of drinking water.
    The small fish farms on streams provide us with good fish when the stream flows through the basin.
    Agree Agree to the comment Select answers to reply to the comment
    1. answer from Dominik Refardt (Dominik74)
      1/2 I have to correct you here, Mr Prochazka. Fish from aquaculture are supplied with high-quality food that the fish would very well eat in the wild. Medicines are used extremely carefully in Swiss aquaculture and certainly not preventively or as a growth enhancer. The fishermen from Lake Constance take a critical look at aquaculture because it is a possible competition (many fishermen would also like fertilization of the Lake Constance). The small fish farms ..
      Agree agree to the comment
    2. answer from Dominik Refardt (Dominik74)
      2/2 ... after all, they are also not the yellow of the egg, because leftover food, excrement etc. can get into the water there. Modern aquacultures cannot and do not afford to be careless about the environment and animals. Still, the animals are killed in the end and we eat them, it stays the same.
      Agree agree to the comment
    3. Show answers
  • Comment from Thomas Hess (Eier Dieb)
    Species-appropriate fish farming / fishing (generally animal husbandry) is to be preferred and yet only something for the conscience. Whoever cares about the animal's welfare does not want it to die, but wants it to live!
    Agree Agree to the comment Select answers to reply to the comment

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