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Letters: Story about mercury in tuna was Propoganda 101

I read with interest the article about mercury in tuna. ("Sushi lovers keep eating," Jan. 26) As a life-long commercial fisherman I am frustrated by the propaganda from environmental groups intent on ending all fishing. This kind of article, which keeps rehashing old misconceptions to scare you from buying fish, is an excellent example of their smear campaign. Get people not to eat fish and the fisherman will disappear.

The biggest mistruth is whether the mercury naturally found in tuna is a hazard. The consumption of tuna and other large pelagic fish is safe. The selenium found naturally in these fish binds with any naturally occurring mercury and transports it harmlessly through your body. That is why you have not heard of widespread mercury poisoning in all of the cultures that eat these fish in much higher amounts then we do.

In the sushi article, they distort the truth about the Minamata disaster. They neglected to tell you that the mercury polluting Minamata bay was from land-based factories' waste streams and not natural at all. Instead the author describes hideous birth defects. You get to make the implied misconception, mercury in tuna, mercury causes birth defects and thus tuna must cause birth defects. Classic scare tactics taught in Propaganda 101.

Fish is so beneficial to your health, it is a crime that these groups, through their distorted press releases decrying fish and fisherman, work to end all access to your ocean resources. Don't let them scare you. A healthy varied diet should include fish and local tuna is safe as any other seafood. Good health to all.

Kenyon Hunsel

Crescent City

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