Problems With Salmon Aquaculture
Our oceans are in trouble. Uncontrolled fishing has brought many species to the brink of extinction, while pollution from farms, cities, and factories is making other commercially important seafood unsafe to eat.
Many thought that aquaculture held the answer to these problems. Yet, practices differ sharply from country to country, making some types of farmed seafood unsustainable or unhealthy. Salmon, perhaps the most popular type of fish raised in sea farms, poses several problems for the environment and public health:
- The waste from millions of captive fish empties directly into the ocean, polluting the water with untreated sewage, toxic chemicals, and other wastes.
- Approximately three million genetically identical salmon escape from their pens each year, interbreeding with, and often out-competing populations of genetically superior wild salmon.
- Captive farmed salmon make ideal hosts for highly contagious diseases and parasites; escapees spread them to wild fish.
- As they grow, carnivorous and voracious farmed salmon need increasing amounts of wildcaught fish for food, thus competing directly with humans and fish species for this valuable yet diminishing resource. Currently, it takes the equivalent of three pounds of fish from the world's oceans to make one pound of farmed salmon.
Farmed salmon also poses a significant threat to human health. A diet that includes wild-caught salmon can be very beneficial to health. Farmed salmon, in contrast, offers fewer dietary advantages and several disadvantages. Recent research has shown that:
- Farmed salmon contains such high concentrations of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and other dangerous contaminants that scientists advise people to drastically restrict their monthly intake of farmed fish.
- Artificial coloring, toxic by-products, antibiotics and other drugs, and cancer-causing contaminants are present to various degrees in farmed salmon tissue, often at levels that can adversely affect human health.
As early as 1999, the World Health Organization warned of the potential risks to human health from the growing popularity of farmed salmon.
The Pure Salmon Campaign grew out of these human health and environmental concerns. Global in reach, Pure Salmon has partners in the United States, Canada, Scotland, Europe, and Chile all working to improve the way salmon is produced.