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Farmed Fish Parasites Threaten Wild Salmon

Early last year, I posted a pair of articles about the economies of scale and big business of farm-raised salmon and, not so surprisingly, the higher levels of toxins found in them as compared to wild salmon. The recent proliferation of fish farming -- a reaction to the inaccurate perception among consumers who believe salmon to be a healthy and safe food -- has come at a price.

A new study by Canadian researchers has found smolts (wild baby salmon about the size of a small triple A batteries) that pass commercial salmon farms on their way to the ocean are being infected with sea lice at rates 73 times higher than normal. Such parasites feed off the skin, blood and flesh of smolts, killing them early in their development.

Antibiotics control the spread of sea lice within fish farms, but smolts who pass through the farms and on to the ocean have no protection, foreshadowing a new threat to an already declining supply of wild salmon. The "take-home message" according to the co-author of the study says it all: When the consumer expects salmon to be available year-round for $2.50 a pound, you run into trouble.

Just more proof technology has transformed fish, in the past one of the healthiest foods you could eat, into a bad one, particularly if you buy it at a grocery store or restaurant. I don't advocate eating fish unless it has been tested and found to be free of mercury and other toxins. Why? The best type of omega-3 fats are those found in fish which are high in two fatty acids crucial to human health, DHA and EPA, which are pivotal in preventing heart disease, cancer and many other diseases.

If you enjoy the delicious taste and immense health benefits of salmon, but are concerned about the PCBs, mercury and other toxins found in dangerous amounts in almost all fish, you may want to consider the Alaskan wild red salmon from Vital Choice, found to be free of such toxins and now available in our Web store.

USA Today March 31, 2005

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