The news item under various headings such as “Beware of Fish, with love, from God”; “Risks involved in eating abdominal contents of fish”; “An appeal to the public”; which was recently published in the local dailies, by chairperson, Faith in Action Healing Centre, Seithekema Basa, Chumukedima, claiming to be a divine revelation from God came as a huge set back at a time when state government had been sensitizing the public on health benefits of fish consumption and prioritizing fish culture in the state.
Reacting to the news item, the department of Fisheries had issued rejoinder on the issue in order to clear various misconceptions in the minds of the general public.
State department of fisheries clarified that it had nothing against the chairperson Faith in Action Healing Centre; however, the department clarified some facts and figures (Biblical as well as scientific) with regard to fish consumption as it directly concerned the department. The department stated that any revelation or prophecy from God should be based on His word – the Holy Bible. In this regard, “God never forbade man to eat fish or for that matter the gut of fish. Fish as a food item was widely used during the time of Jesus when he fed five thousand men with five loaves of bread and two fish, Matthew 17:14. Interestingly most of Jesus disciples were fishermen themselves”, the department stated
The risks and dangers caused by consuming fish or fish gut could be compared with that of other food items such as any other animal gut/abdominal contents, junk food, red meat, smoked meat, inorganically grown foods items etc., keeping aside the health hazards caused by consuming tobacco, alcohol and drugs.
Fisheries could be broadly classified into culture and capture fisheries. Some commonly cultured fish species in Nagaland are Catla catla, Labeo rohita, Cirrhinus mrigala, Ctenopharyngodon idella, Hypophthalmichthys molitrix and Cyprinus carpio which are cultured in ponds and tanks under controlled conditions.
They feed mainly on zooplanktons, phytoplanktons, algae, insect larvae and detritus. In aquaculture practices, fertilization of fish ponds with organic manure such as cow dung is done to booster plankton growth which in turn serves as fish food. In Nagaland’s context, the fishes occurring naturally in our river systems come under capture fish/fisheries.
Fishes of Nagaland, numbering about 149 different species (Ref: Fish and Fisheries of Nagaland –By: S. Ao, S. C. Dey, S. K. Sarmah) have been categorised under 22 different families. In addition, our river systems are also home to a good number of endemic species. Due to their small size, varied shapes, stripes and colors, they serve well as ornamental fish. Fishes have different feeding habits.
Most of the fishes falling under the 22 families are either herbivorous or omnivorous in nature, while a few are carnivorous but none of them are voracious carnivores. The bigger species are considered as important food and game fish. Thai magur (African cat fish) which has been banned by the Government of India due to its highly carnivorous nature has already found its way into our water bodies by accident. They pose a threat to our indigenous fish species. Therefore their culture and introduction in water bodies should be discouraged.
Nutritional Values of Fish
Fish, though figuring out into the Top 10 super foods, its consumption in the state has remained remarkably low at 6-7 Kg per capita consumption as against the nutritional requirement of 11Kg per capita consumption as per World Health Organisation standards. Fish provides cheapest source of protein in addition to vitamins, minerals and other essential fatty acids required by the body.
Doctors suggests that fish should be used instead of red meat as protein source several times a week because of the possible benefits of fish oils for coronary artery diseases. The start of a healthier lifestyle could begin with you consuming more fish. There are a number of health benefits fish provide, helping you get vitamins and nutrients you need on a daily basis.
1. Fish is a very good source of protein. Our bodies are not equipped to store protein; therefore consuming fish daily helps you fulfill your daily requirement.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
2. Fish is a good source of omega-3 fatty acids. Our bodies don’t manufacture this nutrient, which helps protect against heart disease.
3. Fish is a great staple of a low-fat diet. The majority of fish contain low levels of saturated fats.
4. Fish contains B vitamins, which help to reduce stress, anxiety and depression. The B vitamins help your memory and reduce the risk of heart disease.
5. Vitamin A, which is found in fish, helps the body tissue mend and provides the mechanics for cell growth. Some other common ailments Vitamin A helps ward off are arthritis, acne and bronchitis.
6. Fish also contains calcium, which helps to maintain strong bones and teeth.
The department further enlightened that gut of all animals including fishes are possible carriers of disease causing pathogens, therefore their consumption was not advisable. For a healthier lifestyle and longer life, choose wisely and eat healthy, stated the department.