A growing body of evidence for chemical contamination in seafood has raised concerns about the safety of seafood consumption. Available data also indicate that some fishery stocks that are overharvested are also the most laden with certain contaminants. Flame retardant chemicals, used in textiles, plastics, and other products are a class of these seafood contaminants that are particularly concerning as they are linked to cancer and endocrine disruption. To investigate the potentially useful relationship between fishery sustainability and flame retardant concentration in seafood, we used polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) as a case study to assess how fishery status and species vulnerability coincide with levels of brominated flame retardants found in the tissue of popularly consumed fish. While none of our metrics of sustainability showed strong relationships to PBDE contamination rates, our results suggest that the same intrinsic biological and ecological traits, which facilitate the uptake of chemicals, also contribute to how species respond to fishing pressures. Given the dual challenges of ensuring seafood sustainability and protecting human health, we then explored the implications of bundling the public good of conservation with the private good of health.
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