On April 25, FRONTLINE Traces the Stories Behind The Fish on Our Plates With Bestselling Author Paul Greenberg – Who Spends a Year Eating Seafood at Every Meal
The Fish on My Plate
Premiering on PBS and online:
Tuesday, April 25, 2017, at 10 p.m. ET / 9 p.m.
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“What fish should I eat that’s good for me and good for the planet?”
That’s the question bestselling author and lifelong fisherman Paul Greenberg (Four Fish; American Catch) sets out to answer in The Fish on My Plate, a special, 90-minute FRONTLINE documentary premiering Tuesday, April 25 on PBS stations and online.
As part of his quest to investigate the health of the ocean — and his own — Greenberg spends a year eating seafood for breakfast, lunch and dinner. It’s a journey that’s brought to life in this documentary produced by David Fanning, Neil Docherty and Sarah Spinks.
“Almost half the fish and shellfish consumed in the world is now farmed — is that helpful or harmful?” says Greenberg, who is currently a Pew Fellow in Marine Conservation. “I wanted to examine the fish on my own plate, and take stock of what’s happening in the world’s oceans and fish farms, in an attempt to find out.”
The Fish on My Plate chronicles Greenberg as he works on his upcoming book, The Omega Principle — and consumes over 700 fish meals in hopes of improving his health through a dramatic increase in his Omega-3 levels.
With people worldwide consuming more seafood than ever, Greenberg also explores questions of sustainability and overfishing, traveling to Norway, where modern fish farming was invented; Peru to witness the world’s largest wild fishery; Alaska, where 200 million salmon can be caught each year; and Connecticut to visit a sustainable ocean farming pioneer who is trying to transform the fishing industry.
On the wild side, Greenberg finds that not everything is as it seems: At America’s largest seafood trade show, American wild salmon is labeled as a product of China. Why? Alaskan salmon is shipped frozen to China, thawed there to be deboned and filleted, and then refrozen to be shipped back to American supermarkets.
“A piece of fish in an American restaurant,” Greenberg points out, “travels an average of 5,000 miles before you get to take a bite.” And in Alaska, he finds that up to 30 percent of fish marked as wild-caught are born in hatcheries before they are released into the ocean.
When it comes to farmed fish, things aren’t much more clear-cut: In Norway, the world center for farming America’s favorite fish, the Atlantic salmon, Greenberg finds a “salmon war.” The country’s fjords are festooned with farms, profits are huge, and growth expectations are high — but there is fierce criticism from environmentalists who complain the farms create more sewage than the entire human population of the country, that they spread disease, and that escaped farmed salmon are polluting the genetics of dwindling wild stocks.
Plus, a parasite, the sea louse — which feeds off the blood of the salmon — multiplies exponentially in the farms, and then infects entire fjords. This has led the government to halt the industry’s growth until the louse can be restrained.
In The Fish on My Plate, Greenberg charts the industry’s efforts to accommodate its critics and search for solutions — visiting a “green” fish farm just south of the Arctic Circle, and discussing proposals for a genetically modified salmon that will be grown in tanks out of the ocean.
And as far as the result of Greenberg’s yearlong, seafood-focused diet?
Viewers can get the full story when The Fish on My Plate premieres — but as Greenberg’s journey progresses, the Omega-3 industry’s promises are put to the test when he talks to a series of experts to parse the hype from the hope.
All told, The Fish on My Plate isn’t just the story of one man’s journey. It’s a must-watch documentary for any consumer who cares about both his or her own health, and the health of the planet.
The Fish on My Plate is a FRONTLINE Production with Spin Free Productions, Inc. The producers are David Fanning, Neil Docherty and Sarah Spinks. The writers are Paul Greenberg & David Fanning & Neil Docherty. The correspondent is Paul Greenberg. The executive producer of FRONTLINE is Raney Aronson-Rath.
FRONTLINE, U.S. television’s longest running investigative documentary series, explores the issues of our times through powerful storytelling. FRONTLINE has won every major journalism and broadcasting award, including 82 Emmy Awards and 18 Peabody Awards. Visit pbs.org/frontline and follow us on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Tumblr and Google+ to learn more. Founded by David Fanning in 1983, FRONTLINE is produced by WGBH Boston and is broadcast nationwide on PBS. Funding for FRONTLINE is provided through the support of PBS viewers and by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Major funding for FRONTLINE is provided by The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. Additional funding is provided by Ford Foundation, the Park Foundation, the John and Helen Glessner Family Trust and the FRONTLINE Journalism Fund with major support from Jon and Jo Ann Hagler on behalf of the Jon L. Hagler Foundation. Major funding for The Fish on My Plate was provided by the Kendeda Fund.