A run on salmon?

Posted by Willie — 16 February 2010 at 3:38pm - Comments

It's worth stopping to think about the true price of the salmon you eat. And there's quite a lot to think about.

Salmon is one of the biggest international seafood commodities, and in the UK it's easily one of the most consumed and most conspicuous species in our supermarkets and restaurants. But the vast majority of the salmon you'll find on shelves or plates these days has been farmed rather than fished. Partly that’s because there's hardly any wild Atlantic salmon left, but it's also because salmon's popularity has grown and it has gone from being a delicacy to become more of an everyday food in the past few decades.

Today sees the online launch of a short film exposing some of the more unpleasant side of the global salmon industry, called Farmed Salmon Exposed - watch the first instalment above.

Internationally, the UK (and Scotland in particular) is a big salmon farming country, producing proudly branded products that are sold worldwide. But the reach of this industry flows around the world the other way too – in particular with the demand for feed fish, small species like anchovies that often come from places like South America, where they are caught in vast numbers and rendered down to fishmeal. Alternative options could be palm oil or soya, which of course bring their own set of concerns.

Perhaps surprisingly for some people, salmon farming generally uses many times more fish - weight for weight - than it produces. From that perspective alone it's questionable whether farming salmon and other carnivorous species of seafood can ever be truly sustainable.

Lately there have been some quite hard-hitting criticisms of the impact that fishing for feed fish has on the oceans, with the mighty Dr Daniel Pauly equating this as "robbing Pedro to pay Paul". There are others trying to change the system from the other end, and at the SCA Seafood Summit in Paris I was happy to meet the dynamic Patricia Majluf who is working tirelessly in her native Peru to convince people to cut out the middle-fish, and eat anchovies rather than feed them to salmon!

As a result of Greenpeace USA's work, the retailer Target recently announced it was to stop selling farmed salmon, and would only stock wild-caught certified salmon from the Pacific instead. This is great news, but slightly marred by the huge concerns being raised by many groups in Canada about the alarming state of Pacific sockeye salmon, which, confusingly seems about to be recertified by the MSC.

The irony here is that even if you, as a conscientious consumer, want to avoid that particular species then it's likely to be very difficult to do because a number of different species are just called 'Pacific salmon'.

Some parts of the industry have already had to change because of catastrophes and bad news stories – up until last year, for example, Chilean farmed salmon was readily available on UK supermarket shelves. A string of disease outbreaks and bad PR means you won't find it there today. Elsewhere the bad news stories just keep coming, like the escape of thousands of non-native salmon just a few weeks ago.

Over here in the UK there are clearly better options for salmon if you do choose to buy it, including the salmon from Scotland which has organic certification and is overall, a much lower-impact option.

But please do stop to think of the overall price you may be paying.

I have several relative's who have the misfortune to live in a village near to a salmon farm. To begin with the local boy's got employment on the farm, but slowly but surely they all got replaced with migrant Eastern European worker's. The main impact that i have noticed myself is the fact that in the inlet's near to the net's wild fish are extremely scare, and local anglers have all passed comment on this. The farm worker's also take it in turn's to shoot the wild seabird population and seal's with shotgun's under the premise of protecting the farmed salmon. Once again profit is put before the environment, and the new proposed super-size farms are something that must be stopped.

It`s really sad that nowadays just a few of a hundred think what they are. I was shocked, when at Seattle Aquarium, on one of shows with scuba-divers, I received nice research paper about "What are we eating?" There was three lines with sea creatures. Green, yellow and red. Green means that this fish you can buy, because of it`s amount. Yellow - you should be careful - quantity of those going down. And red - you`re not allowed to eat those kinds of fish. They could be on sell, but it`s illegal from both side: sellers and buyers (you are supporting their job).
I must recommend to all - search Google for what eat and what do not.

Frankly I did not know this. Again, humans are killing the wildlife. It is striking that these activities are not published as much as they should. And many few people care about the origin of the fish and they just enjoy their meals. Lately I've been busy finishing some projects and I'm not taking the time to follow the activities being done without the concern of environmental impact. Briefly I´ll resume my events and write more about issues like this, with extreme importance to continue this species of fish. Thank you.

A small (but growing) amount of farmed salmon is also canned, and there is an emerging value-added industry that is producing a variety of new and exciting products such as salmon paté salmon kabobs, marinated and peppered salmon steaks. Studies have shown that some farmed salmon is relatively higher in contaminants like PCBs than wild salmon, and there is mounting concern over the community involvement and the industry’s impact on wild salmon populations. Although the benefit-risk ratio for carcinogens and noncarcinogens is significantly greater for wild Pacific salmon than for farmed Atlantic salmon as a group, the ratio for some subgroups of farmed salmon is on par with the ratio for wild salmon. However, a study published in Science demonstrates that farmed salmon is low in contaminants and, therefore, safe to consume.

That`s really, REALLY sad. I`m veggie and I won`t eat meet because of my principles. I`m an owner one of the pizzeria which useds only veggie recipes. This is my position.

I've seen a few fish farms while studying a bit of aquaculture and nothing I saw could be described as anything like "animal welfare best practice". Admittedly I haven't seen all fish farms and not for a few years either. But i'll comment anyway. What I find maddening is our obsession with eating high food chain species. Tuna, salmon, swordfish, marlin, wahoo, whatever. It's ridiculous.There's only sustainable way to eat fish: catch it yourself. sample essay

The main point is profit is always put before the environment.

[deleted link spam. gpuk]

I fish quite a bit in California. And lately the places I used to catch Salmon have all been dry. The same is true with the places I used to get a lot of Catfish as well. It's a pretty bad situation hopefully it will rectify itself.

[deleted link spam. gpuk]

Hey Willie, that's a nice post about Salmon!

Recently I saw that in Discovery channel where they showed the entire life cycle of Salmon from birth to death. That was awesome!. I really shocked to see their "Survival of the fittest"

Thanks
Vinoth

I have several relative's who have the misfortune to live in a village near to a salmon farm. To begin with the local boy's got employment on the farm, but slowly but surely they all got replaced with migrant Eastern European worker's. The main impact that i have noticed myself is the fact that in the inlet's near to the net's wild fish are extremely scare, and local anglers have all passed comment on this. The farm worker's also take it in turn's to shoot the wild seabird population and seal's with shotgun's under the premise of protecting the farmed salmon. Once again profit is put before the environment, and the new proposed super-size farms are something that must be stopped.

It`s really sad that nowadays just a few of a hundred think what they are. I was shocked, when at Seattle Aquarium, on one of shows with scuba-divers, I received nice research paper about "What are we eating?" There was three lines with sea creatures. Green, yellow and red. Green means that this fish you can buy, because of it`s amount. Yellow - you should be careful - quantity of those going down. And red - you`re not allowed to eat those kinds of fish. They could be on sell, but it`s illegal from both side: sellers and buyers (you are supporting their job). I must recommend to all - search Google for what eat and what do not.

Frankly I did not know this. Again, humans are killing the wildlife. It is striking that these activities are not published as much as they should. And many few people care about the origin of the fish and they just enjoy their meals. Lately I've been busy finishing some projects and I'm not taking the time to follow the activities being done without the concern of environmental impact. Briefly I´ll resume my events and write more about issues like this, with extreme importance to continue this species of fish. Thank you.

A small (but growing) amount of farmed salmon is also canned, and there is an emerging value-added industry that is producing a variety of new and exciting products such as salmon paté salmon kabobs, marinated and peppered salmon steaks. Studies have shown that some farmed salmon is relatively higher in contaminants like PCBs than wild salmon, and there is mounting concern over the community involvement and the industry’s impact on wild salmon populations. Although the benefit-risk ratio for carcinogens and noncarcinogens is significantly greater for wild Pacific salmon than for farmed Atlantic salmon as a group, the ratio for some subgroups of farmed salmon is on par with the ratio for wild salmon. However, a study published in Science demonstrates that farmed salmon is low in contaminants and, therefore, safe to consume.

That`s really, REALLY sad. I`m veggie and I won`t eat meet because of my principles. I`m an owner one of the pizzeria which useds only veggie recipes. This is my position.

I've seen a few fish farms while studying a bit of aquaculture and nothing I saw could be described as anything like "animal welfare best practice". Admittedly I haven't seen all fish farms and not for a few years either. But i'll comment anyway. What I find maddening is our obsession with eating high food chain species. Tuna, salmon, swordfish, marlin, wahoo, whatever. It's ridiculous.There's only sustainable way to eat fish: catch it yourself. sample essay

The main point is profit is always put before the environment. [deleted link spam. gpuk]

I fish quite a bit in California. And lately the places I used to catch Salmon have all been dry. The same is true with the places I used to get a lot of Catfish as well. It's a pretty bad situation hopefully it will rectify itself. [deleted link spam. gpuk]

Hey Willie, that's a nice post about Salmon! Recently I saw that in Discovery channel where they showed the entire life cycle of Salmon from birth to death. That was awesome!. I really shocked to see their "Survival of the fittest" Thanks Vinoth

About Willie

Hi, I'm Willie, I work with Greenpeace on all things ocean-related

Twitter: @williemackenzie

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