Is Flounder From Thailand Safe To Eat? A Full Guide

Are you a fan of flounder?

This flatfish is a popular choice for seafood lovers around the world. But with concerns about contamination and overfishing, it’s important to know where your flounder comes from.

In this article, we’ll take a closer look at flounder from Thailand and whether it’s safe to eat. From mercury levels to farming practices, we’ll explore all the factors that can impact the safety and sustainability of this fish.

So if you’re curious about flounder from Thailand, keep reading to learn more!

Is Flounder From Thailand Safe To Eat?

When it comes to seafood, safety and sustainability are two major concerns. Flounder is no exception, and consumers may wonder if flounder from Thailand is a safe choice.

First, let’s consider contamination. As mentioned in the raw text, some sea creatures can be dangerous for humans to consume due to toxins and pollutants in the water they live in. Thailand is known for having less regulated fish farming practices, which can lead to contamination issues. However, it’s important to note that not all flounder from Thailand is contaminated. It’s crucial to research the specific source and farming practices of the flounder you’re considering before making a purchase.

Another factor to consider is overfishing. Flounder stocks have been depleted in many areas due to overfishing, which can have negative impacts on the ocean ecosystem. Again, it’s important to research the specific source of your flounder and choose a sustainable option.

Lastly, let’s talk about mercury levels. Mercury is a contaminant that can be harmful to human health, particularly for children, nursing mothers, and pregnant women. While flounder generally has low levels of mercury compared to other fish, it’s still important to be aware of where your flounder comes from and how it was caught or farmed.

The Flounder Industry In Thailand

Thailand is one of the top fish producing nations in the world, and flounder is one of the many species that are caught and farmed in the country. The flounder industry in Thailand falls under the capture fisheries and aquaculture categories. According to the Fishery Statistical Bulletin of Southeast Asia 2019, the production of flounder from marine capture fisheries in Thailand was 1,256 metric tons, while the production from aquaculture was 2,385 metric tons.

However, like many other fish species in Thailand, flounder has been affected by overfishing and unsustainable fishing practices. The overall catch per unit effort (CPUE) in both the Gulf of Thailand and the Andaman Sea has decreased significantly since 1966, making Thai waters among the most over-fished regions on the planet. Additionally, as mentioned in the raw text, rapid industrialization during the 20th century has resulted in too many vessels using destructive and unsustainable fishing methods to catch too many fish.

The flounder industry in Thailand also faces issues with contamination. As previously mentioned, Thailand is known for having less regulated fish farming practices, which can lead to contamination issues. It’s important for consumers to research the specific source and farming practices of their flounder before making a purchase.

Despite these challenges, there are efforts being made to promote sustainable fishing practices and improve the overall health of Thailand’s marine ecosystem. The Department of Fisheries under the Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives is responsible for promoting the Thai fishing industry while ensuring the sustainability of aquaculture and capture fisheries. Additionally, various organizations are working to raise awareness about sustainable seafood choices and encourage consumers to make informed decisions when purchasing seafood products.

Mercury Levels In Flounder From Thailand

According to a report mentioned in the raw text, everyday food of hundreds of thousands of people living in Thailand is contaminated with mercury, including various fish species such as flounder. The report shows that this common dish ingredient often contains twice the amount of this toxic heavy metal than limits allow. The highest contamination was found in fish from industrial areas, but even less exposed regions and national parks were affected. While the exact source of the mercury contamination has not been established, it is suspected to come from fly ash and wastewater released by nearby coal-fired power plants and pulp-and-paper mills.

The Pollution Control Department conducted tests on fish samples collected from rivers and canals in Si Maha Phot district and found that all had mercury levels exceeding the Public Health Ministry’s safety standard. Flounder, like other types of fish, had between 0.05 and 0.15 mg/kg of mercury, which is beyond the ministry’s red line of 0.02 mg/kg. While harmful levels of mercury were not found in water, soil, or sediment samples, it’s important to note that flounder from Thailand may contain high levels of mercury.

Consumers should be cautious when purchasing flounder from Thailand and research the specific source and farming practices. It’s also recommended to limit consumption of fish with high levels of mercury, particularly for vulnerable populations such as children, nursing mothers, and pregnant women.

Farming Practices And Sustainability

When it comes to flounder farming practices in Thailand, there are concerns about sustainability. As mentioned in the raw text, not all farmed fish are raised under the same guidelines and regulations. Thailand is known for having less regulated fish farming practices, which can lead to unsustainable and unhealthy practices to keep up with demand. This can include the use of unhealthy feed and keeping fish fresh on ice that contains pathogenic bacteria.

Aquaculture has been seen as a way to satisfy the world’s growing appetite for healthful fish and at the same time a means of sparing wild fish populations and allowing their numbers to rebound. However, it has also contributed to fisheries collapse. Fishermen who work in places near aquaculture farms argue that the contamination produced by farms has decreased the population of aquatic organisms and in consequence their volume captures. Additionally, another problem of similar magnitude is the extremely high aquaculture’s dependence on fishmeal and fish oil, which could be another nonsustainable practice in aquaculture.

While Thailand has made improvements in their shrimp farming methods, as mentioned in the raw text, there is still continued effort needed to make Thai fisheries more sustainable. Local implementation and enforcement of laws ranging from farm effluent to fishery management need to continue to improve in line with science and best practice.

Consumers should research the specific source and farming practices of their flounder before making a purchase. Sustainable seafood is wild-caught or farmed seafood that is harvested or produced in ways that protect the long-term health of species populations and ecosystems. The United States is a global leader in sustainable seafood, with U.S. fishermen and seafood farmers operating under some of the most robust and transparent environmental standards in the world. If the seafood you purchase is caught or farmed in the United States, you can feel confident you’re making a sustainable seafood choice.

Regulations And Monitoring Of Flounder From Thailand

Thailand has taken significant steps to improve its fisheries management and controls, particularly in regards to combating illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing. The country has implemented a new Royal Ordinance on Fisheries that aims to achieve sustainability of fishery resources management, good governance, and effectiveness in combating IUU fishing with proportional and deterrent administrative and criminal sanctions. In addition, Thailand has acceded to the UN Fish Stock Agreement and the FAO Agreement on Port State Measures, which are key international agreements aimed at combatting IUU fishing.

The Seafood Import Monitoring Program (SIMP) is a risk-based traceability program that requires importers to provide and report key data from the point of harvest to entry into U.S. commerce on over 1,100 unique species. SIMP covers nearly half of all U.S seafood imports. This program also requires importers to comply with certain standards for fisheries control and management, including compliance with international rules and regulations.

Thailand has rigorously overhauled and improved its fisheries management and control systems since being issued a formal warning (yellow card) in 2015 for fisheries exports under the EU regulation to end illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing. Since then, the country has taken significant steps to improve its fisheries management and exert greater controls on its own vessels as well as foreign vessels landing in Thai ports. These reforms include passing laws which empower greater control, enforcement and surveillance of fishing vessels, as well as higher penalties and sanctions for non-compliance.

In addition, Thailand has implemented the Port State Measures Agreement (PSMA), with required risk assessment of all foreign vessels delivering fish to Thailand. As one of the largest processing countries in the world, this is critically important and Thailand has gone above and beyond the requirements for this agreement, with an inspection and traceability regime that makes it a global leader.

Alternatives To Flounder From Thailand

If you’re looking for an alternative to flounder from Thailand, there are several options to consider. One option is to look for domestically caught flounder, which may be more regulated and sustainable. Another option is to try other types of white fish, such as tilapia, cod, or haddock. These fish are often cheaper and more widely available than flounder, and can be used in similar recipes.

If you’re looking for a more unique flavor profile, you could try using a fish sauce substitute. As mentioned in the raw text, soy sauce and vinegar can be mixed together to create a similar umami flavor to fish sauce. Additionally, there are vegan fish sauce options available that use ingredients like seaweed or mushrooms to mimic the flavor of traditional fish sauce.

Another alternative to consider is swai, a type of freshwater fish that is often compared to flounder in taste and texture. However, it’s important to note that swai is often farmed and may have additives or chemicals present in the water it’s raised in. To ensure the safety and sustainability of your seafood choices, it’s important to research the specific source of your swai and choose a trusted supplier.