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The Wild Salmon Debate

By David Dobbs, March/April 2008

A fresh look at farmed vs. wild.


READER'S COMMENT:
"Black Pearl is an amazing farmed salmon. From the UK and not given any anti-biotics, dyes, or other chemicals. It's fed a wild feed (made from things salmon would normally consume in the Northern Atlantic) and it's raised in open ocean...
COMMENTS POSTEDsort icon

Very informative, well written article, I'm going wild !!

Mickey Macrils, Kennebunk, ME

Anonymous

09/01/2009 - 3:48pm

What about those farm raised salmon that come from farms that claim to be environmentally sustainable? I am thinking of those farms which are certified by the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC)? I have kids and have been buying fish that have been raised eating vegetarian diets (to minimize mercury levels) and are produced by farms which are certified by the Marine Stewardship Council. I thought that this would get around two problems that I consider: 1) mercury levels in fish and 2) environmental impact. Am I wrong? Is wild still better on those two dimensions?

Anonymous, Cleveland, OH

Anonymous

09/01/2009 - 3:48pm

Very good article. Learned something else in a report by a Canadian scientist some time back - Norwegian-farmed salmon (in Norway) are safe as the gov't there inspects regularly, and if they find one (1) louse per two (2) fish, the farm is shut down. Unfortunately, Norwegian co.'s farm all over the world, and no other gov't regulates similarly...so If a restaurant tells me it's Norwegian-farmed on the menu, I have to ask "farmed IN Norway?" So far, only one restaurant has been able to tell me. I regularly hand out "good fish/bad fish' directories in my local stores & have discouraged some would-be buyers of the farmed product. More needs to be done, by gov't regulation. The strange thing is, frozen wild salmon (king and sockeye) are available here year 'round, and at lower prices than the farmed! They lose nothing in taste and texture when frozen. Thanks, & I hope you will follow up with more on this "debate".

Thomas Tizard, Kailua, HI

Anonymous

09/01/2009 - 3:49pm

Very informative BUT when looking at the fish farms, you only consider salmon as food for humans. These fish are an important part of the food chain for other living creatures.

Audrey Naese, Carmel, ME

Anonymous

09/01/2009 - 3:49pm

Mr. Dobbs, I would like to first thank you for bringing to the forefront the issues that surround this topic. However, I feel that you overlooked mentioning the large amounts of antibiotics and other drugs that are given to farm raised fish in their food to prevent disease outbreaks. What are the long term effect of these things? Also I feel that you completely overlooked the work being done in Alaska by the non-profit aquaculture associations. These groups have been working out the intricacies of "fish ranching" for more that 30 years. I also feel that you have failed to place credit where credit is due. The main reason that Alaskan salmon are doing so well is not because of good management by our state organization, but by the hundreds of millions of juvenile salmon that are released from these hatcheries annually. I would encourage any interested person to do some research into Alaskan hatcheries to see what we have been doing to overcome the problem that affect "farm raised" salmon. All in all, the article was fair, but you forgot about Alaska like everyone else!

Andrew Walter, Homer, Ak

Anonymous

09/01/2009 - 3:49pm

Thank you for a well written article. In response to the comment from Anonymous in Cleveland, the MSC does not certify aquaculture operations (yet). They must be certified by someone else, and there are some serious shortfalls with some of the certifying bodies that currently exist. WWF is hosting aquaculture dialogues that are bringing together people from industry and NGOs to develop eco-certification standards that will then be handed to a third party (like the MSC) to do the audits and certifications. The other comment that I would like to make is that all to often we expect things to be cheap, not realizing the true cost of our consumption. Government subsidies are a huge problem for wild fisheries and makes it seem like fish is much cheaper than it actually is. As a global society, only paying the total cost of a product, no matter what it is, will lead to conservation of our natural resources for future generations. Europe in general is much further ahead of the US on this. Hopefully we will evolve rapidly.

Eric, Takoma Park, MD

Anonymous

09/01/2009 - 3:49pm

Mark Twain once said, “I didn't have time to write you a short letter, so I wrote you a long one instead." This was way too long for the point he was trying to make. I am a freelance writer and know the value of getting to the point quickly. What was with all that Charles Johnson stuff?

Spicy Brice, Littleton, CO

Anonymous

09/01/2009 - 3:49pm

Eric (from Takoma Park) THANK YOU for answering my question! The store that I go to offers "semi-vegetarian" raised salmon (where sardines are only used sparingly because of their high mercury levels) which are certified by the MSC. However, they also have farm-raised salmon from Norway. If I understand Thomas Tizard's comments correctly, then this fish might be a reasonable alternative. Again, my main concerns are 1) high mercury levels in wild salmon and 2) the environmental impact of fisheries. If I had to infer, the Norwegian farm raised fish seem to score well on environmental impact but not on mercury levels. So it looks like I have to pick between lower mercury levels (in farm raised "vegetarian" salmon) and environmental sustainability (by buying wild salmon). Is that how most people see the trade-off?

Anonymous, in Cleveland, Oh

Anonymous

09/01/2009 - 3:50pm

What about the ridiculously high PCB content found in farmed salmon? PCB content needs to come down 90% to compete with Alaskan Wild Salmon. Everyone here needs to get their facts straight! www.ewg.org

EWG.org, Everywhere, CA

Anonymous

09/01/2009 - 3:50pm

My family much prefers the taste and texture of farmed salmon. We buy it at our local Albertson's for a little as $4.00 per pound and Keta Salmon goes for $1.99 so we feast on Keta a lot. All the wild fishing has been shut down anyway so it is a good thing we love the farmed and a lot of canned tuna. Hey! Once you smother it in Tartar sauce, who cares. Thanks.

lorelei, Altadena, CA

Anonymous

09/01/2009 - 3:50pm



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