What is the most commonly eaten fish

Fish as food

It has always been indispensable as a food, especially in coastal regions - fish is a relatively easy-to-obtain and high-quality source of protein that makes a decisive contribution to human nutrition. But why exactly should fish be eaten, what should be observed and where does it actually come from?

Fish are aquatic vertebrates that are not only caught in the wild on the high seas, but are also cultivated in net cages off the coast and on land in aquacultures such as ponds or recirculation systems. For example, Norway is a pioneer in the production of salmon. This is the most widely consumed fish in Germany and in the European Union (EU) it is the third most consumed species after tuna and cod.

An EU citizen eats an average of 25.1 kg of fish a year. It is above all the countries of Portugal, Spain, France and Luxembourg that raise this average significantly. In Portugal, most fish and fish products end up on the plate. A Portuguese person consumes around 55.9 kg per year, which is more than double that of the average EU citizen. Two thirds of the EU's total consumption are sea fish, i.e. saltwater fish. These are particularly rich in iodine, have a large amount of essential unsaturated fatty acids and a high content of vitamins A, D and B. Fish also provide important minerals and trace elements as food. The decisive aspect, however, is their position as a supplier of high quality animal protein. Fish utilize food better than warm-blooded animals such as beef or pork and thus convert it more efficiently into protein. As a result, they use fewer natural resources in rearing and have a lower proportion of connective tissue, which makes them particularly easy to digest.

But fish also has certain pitfalls and health risks, which is why it should be eaten fresh or processed in one or two days after thawing. The main way to recognize fresh fish is that it does not smell unpleasant. A fishy smell is an indication that the animal has already started to denature - that is, it has already been partially decomposed by microorganisms such as bacteria and has therefore been dead or "lying around" for a long time. Furthermore, fresh fish can be recognized by the clear eyes and the metallic shimmering skin on which the scales should sit firmly.

Freshly caught fish is preferred to be traded and consumed in coastal areas, where the numerous health benefits are most valued by consumers. In industrialized countries such as Germany, fish is mainly traded as frozen food or in preserved form, i.e. dried or salted.

An EU consumer currently spends around four times more on meat than on fish products. This is due to the general preference for meat and the comparatively higher sales prices of fish. These have increased in recent years, primarily due to environmental protection measures and the decline in catches from the sea. In 2016, for example, there was an increase in the price of fish and fishery products by the amount of 3.3 percent, while average food prices rose by just 0.8 percent.