30 April 2012

Ian Gawler Blog: Sustainable and healthy fish – Fishing for answers.

Thought for the Day

Our children need to be taught how to think
Not what to think

If you do choose to eat fish, which ones are the best – for you and the environment?
For non-vegetarians, fish have health benefits courtesy mostly of their Omega 3 fatty acids, and are one of the best protein options. However, most of us are alert to the vexed issue of contamination of our fish and other seafoods by pollution, as well as the sustainability and environmental problems of overfishing and damaging fishing practices.

It is claimed that currently 70% of the world’s fish species are fully exploited, overexploited, depleted or recovering from depletion. It is a scary thought to know the best estimates are that if current trends of overfishing continue, stocks of all fish currently being commercially fished will collapse by 2048. The question then, is what fish are best to eat?

Can you help? I have been researching what follows for the revision of You Can Conquer Cancer, which is nearly complete. To my knowledge the information is accurate. Does anyone know anything else that warrants inclusion? How easy is it to understand? One issue to be clear on, is that if you do choose to eat healthy, sustainable seafood, there are a number of issues to think through. However, once you do make the time to do this, you can eat with a clearer conscience.

Please feel free to share this with family or friends who are interested in the question, and add comments as usual at the end of the post.

Seafood -what to do?

1. Say no to farmed fish

The trend towards increasing aquaculture, the farming of fish, makes sense in theory, but does not seem to have the right answers as yet in practice. Most people are unaware that commercially farmed salmon are genetically modified to become what are called tetraploids; that is, they have a double set of genes so they grow faster. Then they are fed on other fish; a practice that is very inefficient and damaging to other fish stocks. It takes 2 to 4 Kgm wild fish to produce 1 kgm of farmed salmon. While increasingly vegetable proteins are being used for feed, these result in lower levels of the valuable omega 3 fatty acids in the salmon. Seaweed may be a more viable food source for fish farming, but that remains to be seen. Also, disease is emerging as a major issue amongst intensively reared fish. Increasingly, significant amounts of antibiotics are being used to manage infections (as happens continually in the intensive rearing of chicken).

So wild caught fish are preferable, but which ones?

2. Know where your fish came fromthe further out to sea and the less polluted the waters the better.

Fish that are caught in more remote areas away from built up areas and heightened pollution are obviously preferable. So choose fish that live further out to sea, that are the deeper sea varieties, and come from less polluted areas and countries.

3. Choose the smaller species rather than the big predator fish. 

Pollutants accumulate as you go up the food chain. For example, it is well known sharks accumulate heavy metals and the mercury levels in big fish can be very toxic.

4. Check out what the sustainable fish are in your area.

This is a regional as well as international issue and the need is to check your local conditions. In Australia, a good guide is found on the Australian Marine Conservation Society’s website: marineconservation.org.com.

The Marine Stewardship Council has developed a certification system that mostly shows up on packaged seafood and features a distinctive blue MSC label. See their website: msc.org.
Goodfishbadfish.com.au has a very user-friendly list of sustainable seafoods, with reasons for the various listings and practical preparation tips.

5. Avoid the unsustainable fish and those that may also have health issues.

Again, say no to farmed fish

Say no to wild caught

Barramundi, Blue Grenadier, Cods, Garfish, Gemfish (Hake), Gropers, Murray Cod, Orange Roughy (deep sea perch), Shark, Snapper, Marlin, Swordfish, Toothfish and Tuna (unless troll, pole or line caught).

6. Fish that are probably better avoided, but not so bad:

Blue Eye Trevalla, Coral Trout, Flathead, Gunard, John Dory, Kingfish, Ling, Mulloway, Red Emperor, Red Mullet, Red Snapper (Redfish) and Silver Trevally.

7. Fish that are OK to consider:

Wild caught Bonito, Bream, Eel, King George Whiting, Leatherjacket, Mackerel, Mahi Mahi, Mullet, Tailor, Trevally and Whiting.

Imported canned salmon and sardines are usually OK.

8. Avoid scallops from the wild.

9. Seafood that is best to avoid, but not so bad:

Lobster and Prawns (farmed prawns are likely to be better environmentally).

10. Seafood that is OK to consider:

Farmed: Abalone, Oysters, scallops and Blue mussels.

Wild: Blue swimmer crabs, mud crabs, squid, calamari and octopus.

All this information may seem a little imposing at first, but it is like many things. Take your time to think it through. If you are planning to eat fish, find out what is available locally, where you can get healthy, sustainable seafood, develop a good relationship with your supplier, and then it is easy and satisfying.


If you are well and you do choose to eat fish, avoid farmed fish in the main and eat the smaller, sustainable wild fish varieties that come from non-polluted areas. Only eat seafood occasionally. For those dealing with major illness and on the Healing Diet, fish and other seafood is probably preferably avoided until you are in remission.

1. Melbourne workshops now open for bookings through the Gawler Foundation
                 Saturday and Sunday May 26th and 27th at Hawthorn

                                The Mind that Changes Everything

A highly experiential day based on the latest research as well as ancient wisdom. Understand more about how the mind functions and how we can use more of its extraordinary potential. A gentle blend of theory and practice, with many led sessions of meditation and imagery, along with ample time for questions and discussion.
Click here for more details and bookings.

2.    Gratitude -and a balanced comment on the “diagnosis” controversy.

I wish to express my gratitude for all of you who have offered support to me personally and my work generally during these turbulent last few months. If you have not been reading the comment sections on this blog, they are worth a look as many people have spoken of the benefits received through the work and it is very inspiring - particularly the many comments on the "Nobody Expects the Spanish Inquisition" and last week's "Too good to be true?"

Here is another great letter:

 “I am an allied Health professional who has survived a serious cancer. For three years following initial medical diagnosis and two recurrences of cancer, I resisted looking into the Gawler approach.

I had not shifted from the medical model paradigm that I had been professionally trained in and based my life around. The medical model generated my income, my status, and gave me a highly regarded community to belong to. My ego was inextricably intertwined with all the positive things I personally gained from staying aligned with the medical paradigm. Can this happen with Oncologists as well?

When I was still strictly aligned with the medical paradigm, I really believed it was right to not foster "false hope,” in medically defined ‘incurable’ or ‘low prognosis’ situations. If clients questioned such medical predictions, I could easily label and dismiss this as their denial. I didn't have to think too much about it.

It took a very personal and big experience to challenge this thinking.

This was cancer. Once I did look into the lifestyle approach, I found it strongly life affirming and health giving. Since making changes as per the Gawler lifestyle program, I have survived for a further three years without recurrence. It has given me control over my wellbeing, and made an enormous positive difference to my outlook. I see that this positive change is linked closely with physical health.

I wish to offer my support to Ian and others with cancer experiences, as we face this assault to the lifestyle approach. I am also deeply grateful for the considered and courageous responses to these unhelpful assaults, from Ian and others.

I will meditate and hope that those feeding this assault will reflect and realign with more ethical action. Is there a way that those attacking can change their strategy and save face?”

From a deeply grateful survivor."


Books   You Can Conquer Cancer

CDs  Eating Well, Being Well: The plant-based, whole food way of eating that is ideal for those who are well and that forms the starting point for those dealing with major illness, including cancer.

Eating for Recovery: The anti-cancer diet that includes how to get at cancer metabolically.

Programs: The Gawler Foundation where at the residentials the food is legendary - putting these principles into really tasty meals.


  1. I too am a medical specialist, am deeply grateful for all that I received at the ten day program, and 15 years after mastectomy remain very well. I am also very concerned at the medical ethics of challenging other doctors' diagnosis in public, without a living patient's permission. As I understand it, only the patient concerned is able to ask the medical board to investigate the ethics involved. Meanwhile I continue to support the program and recommend it to anyone who asks for my opinion about an integrative approach to the management of anyone with an immune system condition, whether it be psychological or somatic.

  2. Great letter (above). It again vindicates what we who have lived through cancer, or are living with it, and following Ian's integrative lifestyle approach know and feel in our hearts, minds and cells! Lee

  3. Great article again Ian. Many thanks. Keep up the good work. A couple of verses I have read: Have faith in your values:
    Give the world the best you've got and you get kicked in the teeth. Give the world your best anyway.

    Thank you for always giving us your best.