Friday, December 11, 2009

Farmed Salmon: Health and Environment Concerns. Dam

As someone who prefers to be meat free in protein selections, i've often said to colleagues if it's a choice between me or the cow, however, the cow is going down. Fish is sometimes my get out of jail free-er card. Asphyxiated rather than slaughtered? oh sure, send it on over. But now even that escape clause has taken a beating, particularly with the restaurant faves like salmon. Farmed salmon in particular is not the happy fish experience i'd thought it was, and this from a myriad of reasons. So dam tuna nets catching dolphins. Farmed salmon's gotta go for now too. Here' part of what's informed that decision.

Many sites concerned with marine ecology will tell you the same as the following, but the Monterey Bay Aquarium is famous for it's expertise in this area. Here's what they say:

Health Alert

Environmental Defense Fund has issued a health advisory for farmed salmon due to high levels of PCBs.


Most salmon are farmed in open pens and cages in coastal waters. Waste from these farms is released directly into the ocean. Parasites and diseases from farmed salmon can spread to wild fish swimming near the farms.

One of the biggest concerns is the amount of food required to raise salmon in farms. It generally takes three pounds of wild fish to grow one pound of farmed salmon.

Segments of the salmon farming industry are improving their practices, but the environmental impact is still increasing because production has risen more than 400% in the last decade. In the market, there is currently no way to tell which salmon are coming from the more sustainable farms, so for we’ve placed all farmed salmon on the “Avoid” list. Choose wild-caught salmon instead.

dam. Some sites do talk about making farming of salmon "better" so that one can have it (a) cheaper than wild (b) any time of year, but these suggestions don't seem to be largely tested (like changing the feed). SUch sites also suggest "Use vaccines and other preventative measures to minimize disease and thus drug usage" With many of us going organic to get away from drugs in livestock, this doesn't seem like a happy approach, surely, does it?

Here's another fun fact: 1lb of farmed salmon costs three pounds of wild fish as food. Ironic, no? The farmed stock can also be genetically modified, and as most of us have heard, there are still risks around tame salmon mixing with the wild population. But even their fishy excrement getting out into the ocean beds or lakes that are their set ups is also problematic for the rest of the environment.

I said PCB's right?

They're also just as packed in there areas as cattle and chicken are in factory farms. The environmental impact isn't quite up there, but it's close. Wow. super (here's an overview on a few of the above points). Farming does not mean "husbandry" in the traditional sense of the term, eh? The irony is, back in 2003, farmed salmon was really hurting salmon salmon, too. Now we know it's affecting fish stocks on the smaller fishes that are fed to salmon.

I'm not claiming the above is exhaustive, but it's given me pause to ask about the source of the salmon, and to think a little more closely on how to prep for those dining out occaisions that mayn't afford the protein source i'm ok with, so how might i work around that so that if the choice seems to be farmed salmon on not, not going with that source is ok in terms of that's day's perceived nutrient needs. pass the salad.


Alexandra said...

Sorry, messed up that first one!

I always shop wild and sustainably caught fish (the type of fishing is different depending on the fish). I have a little list in my purse and ask the fishmonger how they were caught or where from. If they don't know, I don't buy.

You can get the different wallet-sized lists of what to choose and what to avoid from the monterey bay site -- they are so useful!

Kris said...

I'm currently looking for the best sources of meat myself, I don't really eat fish and what you said isn't news to me.

I think as the population grows its becoming harder to feed ourselves healthily, thats why there is so much mass produced junk!

I've recently found a few online sites that do boxes of organic veg and also organic meat, tempted to give them a go.

I already consume a lot of food for a skinny guy, I can't imagine how much I'd be eating if/when I start on RTK!


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