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Why Farmed Salmon Isn?t Good for You or the Environment

Since the late 1980s, worldwide production of farmed salmon has increased fivefold, while the market share of wild-caught salmon from Alaska, British Columbia and Washington state has steadily declined. In 1980, commercial fisheries produced more than 99 percent of salmon consumed worldwide. Today, they catch less than 40 percent.

This shift does not come without consequences. There are serious ecological risks to wild salmon due to the escape of farm fish from netpen facilities. Well over 1 million salmon have escaped from farms in Washington and British Columbia during the past decade. Most of the escapees were Atlantic salmon, which, although not indigenous to the Pacific Northwest, are the main species raised in West Coast fish farms. Escapees are capable of establishing and reproducing in the wild and competing with wild salmon populations for food and habitat.

Open netpen aquaculture can threaten other organisms by releasing untreated nutrients, chemicals and pharmaceuticals into the marine ecosystem. Additionally, farmed salmon is not nearly as nutritious as wild-caught salmon and is full of deadly mercury and PCBs. It is tragic that this has happened, but nevertheless it is reality. Although somewhat expensive due to overnight shipping costs, one can still obtain wild-caught Alaskan salmon through our store.

Environment October 2003

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