The Excessive Price of Salmon Farming


A rising curiosity in well being and heath meals has helped drive shopper demand for fish to an all-time excessive. A eating regimen wealthy in fish has grown so widespread that world fish consumption jumped 122% from 1990 to 2018, in keeping with the Meals and Agriculture Group of the United Nations (FAO).1

Fish is usually considered as a more healthy various to meat2 because of the so-called “advantages” on human well being and the setting. However is it actually more healthy for you and the planet? That every one is determined by what sort of fish you’re consuming and the place it’s sourced from.

An growing quantity of fish available on the market — in eating places and grocery shops — is sourced from large-scale industrial fish farms. These farms depend on a poisonous cocktail of pharmaceutical medication, pesticides and even genetically engineered crops corresponding to soy.3

Industrial ocean fish farms or factory fish farms, the place fish are raised numbering within the lots of of 1000’s or hundreds of thousands, typically in web pens within the open ocean, pollute the setting with large quantities of fish waste and threaten already weak wild fish with illness.

Fish raised in crowded and unsanitary situations are, sadly, on the rise. The variety of fish produced on fish farms skyrocketed 527% from 1990 to 2018, in keeping with FAO. There are a few causes for this spike, one being the world’s urge for food for fish is rising. Another excuse is that, by 2016, 90% of the world’s wild fish shares had already been depleted because of overfishing.4

The result’s extra persons are consuming farm-raised fish produced on land in large tanks or in open ocean web pens. The truth is, the world now produces extra farmed fish than it does beef.5 And, 50% of the fish eaten worldwide is now farm-raised.6

Well being Advantages of Farmed Salmon Versus Wild-Caught Salmon

Salmon is likely one of the most generally offered varieties of manufacturing facility farm fish, and salmon farms at the moment are the fastest-growing kind of meals manufacturing system on this planet.7 A fan favourite amongst fish eaters, salmon is usually a go-to for health-conscious customers. Loaded with nutritional vitamins, antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids, salmon has all of the traits related to wholesome meals.

However salmon is just wholesome whether it is wild-caught, that means it was fished from its pure habitat, the place it ate up pure organisms. Salmon will not be wholesome for you whether it is farm-raised. Farmed salmon truly has extra in widespread with junk meals than well being meals.

Farmed fish are raised on a eating regimen of processed, high-fat, high-protein feed that may embody the whole lot from genetically engineered soybeans and pesticides, to polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and dioxins, to antibiotics.8 The dry pellet feed given to farmed salmon is what makes it so poisonous to you while you eat it.

The toxins in farmed salmon feed accumulate in salmon fats. One research,9 which examined 700 salmon samples collected from all over the world, discovered PCB concentrations in farmed salmon are, on common, eight occasions larger than in wild salmon.10

Farmed salmon on the whole include larger ranges of contaminants than wild salmon, partially due to their elevated fats content material. So even when raised in equally contaminated situations, farmed salmon will take in extra toxins than wild fish.

Farmed salmon additionally doesn’t have the dietary profile of untamed salmon, containing far larger quantities of omega-6, which may have deleterious well being ramifications, seeing how most individuals are poor in omega-3 whereas getting much more omega-6 than they want.

Majority of Salmon Eaten within the US Comes From Fish Farms

With all of the farmed salmon floating round, you is perhaps shocked to study that the U.S. captures practically one-third of the world’s wild salmon. However greater than half of it’s despatched abroad, the place it’s deboned and processed utilizing low-cost labor.

There was a time when our wild-caught salmon can be shipped again to us after processing however, at the moment, the vast majority of it stays in Asia because of Japan’s shrinking fish provide and China’s improved financial standing, which permits its residents the luxurious to buy it.

The result’s extra farm-raised salmon for People. Two-thirds of the salmon we eat right here within the U.S. is imported, largely from industrial fish farms in Chile, Canada, Norway and processing factories in China.11

Much like industrial animal agriculture, farming salmon (and fish on the whole) on a big scale ends in an enormous quantity of animal waste or, on this case, fish waste. Based on The Guardian:12

“A pen with 200,000 fish produces an infinite quantity of waste. In nature, animal waste will not be dangerous; in reality it’s typically helpful. However massive concentrations of it may be harmful. The waste of untamed fish swimming round will not be dangerous, however the waste of lots of of 1000’s staying in the identical spot is.”

Ocean Water Fish Farms Are Invisible Manufacturing unit Farms

From an outward perspective, the environmental influence of huge fish farms can simply be obscured. Much like manufacturing facility farms on land, which home massive numbers of cows, pigs and chickens but are sometimes saved out of public view, ocean fish farms are hidden from the general public eye. The fish pens are positioned as much as 164 ft beneath the floor of the water.

These seemingly invisible underwater pens can maintain as much as 200,000 fish every. In Norway — which has an enormous farmed salmon trade — some fish farms have eight to 10 pens. Meaning manufacturing facility fish farms can home as much as 2 million fish, which is extra fish than the wild Atlantic salmon inhabitants of the complete world, The Guardian experiences.13

Fish farms of this scale require plenty of capital, which is why most salmon farms are owned by massive multinational firms.

Escaped Farmed Salmon Threaten Weak Wild Salmon

One other main downside with open ocean fish farms is fish that escape. Each time Atlantic salmon are farmed close to wild Atlantic salmon, mixing happens. When males escape, they normally die off as a result of they aren’t powerful sufficient to compete with wild males throughout the spawning course of.

However when females escape, they lay eggs which might be fertilized by wild males. That is problematic as a result of the genes of farmed fish usually are not outfitted to outlive within the wild. Farmed fish additionally lack the essential survival expertise that wild fish have. Based on The Guardian:14

“Farmed salmon usually are not drastically completely different from one pen to a different. They’ve been chosen for quick development, and rising quick appears to be their main talent. They don’t have all of the particular survival expertise of the wild inventory. Though fast-growing, they solely develop for a short while and by no means obtain the dimensions of the extra slow-growing wild salmon.

This is likely one of the causes that they don’t reproduce on the identical price because the bigger wild fish. A salmon residing within the wild that has a farmed guardian and even grandparent is far much less prone to survive at sea, and, in reality, sea survival has declined in locations with farming.”

Farmed salmon that escape from ocean web pens are so widespread that greater than one-third of “wild-caught” salmon from the Faroe Islands, tucked between Iceland and Norway within the North Atlantic Ocean (and politically a part of Denmark), are literally escaped farmed fish.15

Concern of farmed fish escaping into the wild and threatening wild fish is why fish farming is now banned — and will probably be phased out by 2025 — in Washington state.16 In 2017, a fish-farm spill occurred off Cypress Island when a web pen holding 263,000 salmon gave manner. 

The farm’s proprietor, Cooke Aquaculture Pacific, tried to downplay the seriousness of the spill and initially mentioned solely round 160,000 Atlantic salmon had escaped. However it was later confirmed that the quantity was as excessive as 263,000.

Fish Farms Unfold Parasitic Sea Lice to Wild Salmon

Cooke blamed the broken pens on a photo voltaic eclipse that introduced “exceptionally excessive tides and currents.”17 However an investigation by the state of Washington discovered that Cooke was negligent as a result of the corporate didn’t correctly clear the nets on the pens. This led to an extreme buildup of mussels and different sea life on the nets, The Seattle Instances reported.18

The spill threatened native wild salmon together with the endangered Chinook. The priority was the farmed Atlantic salmon would crossbreed with the wild Pacific salmon and expose the wild fish to illness and pests corresponding to sea lice.

Sea lice are a significant downside for farmed salmon, and due to industrial ocean fish farms, it’s now an issue for wild salmon, too. Sea lice that run rampant in fish farms can assault wild salmon swimming close by. Fisherman on the west coast have reported seeing wild salmon swimming close to fish farms contaminated with sea lice. The Guardian experiences:19

“Earlier than there have been fish farms they [sea lice] didn’t pose a vital downside. They roamed the ocean on the lookout for salmon, which make up a tiny minority of the fish inhabitants. One or two would possibly connect themselves to a salmon, and the fish would dwell with the parasites till it returned to the river. Sea lice can’t dwell lengthy in recent water, so that they fall off and die in the river.

Till farming, sea lice survived however by no means discovered enormous faculties of salmon on which to feed. Now they discover salmon farms with lots of of 1000’s of salmon trapped in a single spot.

The lice eat the salmon’s pores and skin. It’s tough to penetrate the scales so that they assault the top and neck. They are going to fully pores and skin a fish’s head after which it should die of publicity. Farmers discover the lifeless fish with uncooked skinned heads on the backside of the pens. It isn’t uncommon to lose 1 / 4 of a pen. Sea lice are an enormous monetary loss for fish farmers.”

‘All Pure’ Atlantic Salmon Come From Fish Farms

One other downside with fish farming is that the firms that elevate farmed fish aren’t precisely truthful about their practices. Mowi USA, the world’s largest producer of Atlantic salmon merchandise, is accused of deceptive customers with false advertising and marketing claims.

Natural Shoppers Affiliation (OCA) filed a lawsuit in August 2020 towards Mowi and Mowi Ducktrap for misleading advertising and marketing and promoting of smoked Atlantic salmon merchandise offered underneath the Ducktrap River of Maine model.20

Many widespread smoked Atlantic salmon manufacturers lure in customers with deceptive claims corresponding to “all pure,” “wholesome and nutritious” or “sustainably sourced.” However the fact is that each one smoked Atlantic salmon merchandise are created from salmon raised on large industrial fish farms that, in some circumstances, are nowhere close to the Atlantic Ocean. As Katherine Paul of OCA writes:21

“Industrial fishing of Atlantic salmon — a species as soon as considerable within the wild however now practically extinct — is prohibited within the U.S. Within the Gulf of Maine, they’re even protected underneath the U.S. Endangered Species Act. Equally, in Canada, wild Atlantic salmon within the Bay of Fundy (situated within the Gulf of Maine) are protected underneath the Accord for the Safety of Species at Danger.

Meaning all Atlantic salmon offered to customers in meals shops and eating places — whether or not recent, frozen, or smoked — comes from industrial salmon farms.”

To take motion on this problem, please sign the petition telling Ducktrap of Maine to cease falsely claiming its smoked Atlantic salmon is “all pure.”

Get pleasure from Secure and Scrumptious Fish

From the poisonous medication and chemical compounds utilized in fish farming, to its environmental influence on wild fish and the false and deceptive advertising and marketing claims utilized by multinational fish farm firms, there are many causes to keep away from farmed fish.

As an alternative, I solely suggest eating safer seafood choices corresponding to wild-caught Alaskan salmon, sardines, anchovies, mackerel and herring. All of those are at low danger of contamination but are excessive in wholesome omega-3 fat, with out the issues posed by fish farming. You’ll wish to go for sustainably harvested wild-caught fish as nicely.

The most effective choices towards this finish is to search for the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) emblem, which options the letters MSC and a blue test mark within the form of a fish. The MSC emblem ensures the seafood got here from a accountable fishery that makes use of sustainable fishing practices to attenuate environmental impacts.22


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