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Farmed Salmon is a Bust for Your Health, Pocketbook and the Environment

Farmed salmon typically have at least 10 times more cancer-causing persistent organic pollutants than their wild counterparts. Sadly, it takes three to five pounds of fish to produce one farmed salmon. Remember that just about any salmon you purchase in a restaurant is farmed. If you really enjoy salmon that is mercury- and pollutant-free try the Vital Choice salmon that we tested at many labs and have certified to be toxin free. It is the only salmon I regularly consume. If the price is a show stopper there is virtually no excuse to not be taking a high-quality cod liver oil to obtain all the benefits of omega-3 oil. Consider the following:

  • Current production methods adopt maximum economies of scale. Thus, feedlot style, open net-pens in the oceans simultaneously maximize consumption of public resources (i.e. fresh, oxygenated water) while offloading production wastes (feces, uneaten food) and byproducts (toxins, antibiotic residues, escaped fish, bioamplified parasites and pathogens). Each net-pen (numbering in the hundreds on both of Canada's coasts) is tantamount to an untreated sewer outfall introducing solid and dissolved wastes directly into the marine environment. This is in every way "industrial waste," disposed of at no charge.
  • The unnaturally high densities of animals in the feedlot environment of net-pens make that environment a breeding ground for disease and parasites. Recently in British Columbia, farm-derived parasites were implicated as the causal agent leading to the largest salmon cohort collapse on record anywhere in the world, ever.
  • Salmon farming in Canada is dominated (greater than 80 percent of B.C. production) by foreign-owned multinational companies seemingly intent on liquidating Canada's natural marine capital for a very small profit. A similar arrangement characterizes the Washington state industry.
  • Farm salmon overproduction (principally from Chile and Norway) has driven the price of all salmon to all-time lows. This forces Canadian and American farms to slash jobs to remain competitive and has brought ruin to coastal fishing communities across the Northern Hemisphere (which depend on a fair price for their wild catch).

So, even a cursory review of the available information leads to the question of why are we engaging in this activity? This industry is clearly a net-loss proposition, whether viewed from the ecological, social or economic perspective. Consumers have either been uninformed or have opted to turn a blind eye to these facts. So folks, catch a clue and stop eating farmed salmon.

Seattle PI January 25, 2004

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