Today, the number of farm-raised salmon outnumbers those that are found in the wild and debate has emerged about the viability of farmed salmon. Questions continue to arise on the various issues surrounding farmed salmon. This blog will look at why farm-raised salmon is bad.
The Problems with Farm-Raised Salmon
Serious concerns have arisen about farming salmon. Arguably, salmon farming is a means of responding to the demand for seafood, several problems exist within the industry. Among the major issues are:
Environmental: Problems in a fish farm are not contained to the farm alone and escape beyond the farm, into the wild. This creates negative impacts to the natural ecosystems around them, spreading to wild salmon. An example of this kind of issue is sea lice.
Health-related: Health concerns for both the fish and those to eat them. Farmed fish contains higher levels of contaminants that pose a larger health risk than the levels found in wild fish.
Ethical: While some question the tactics and methods employed by industrial fishing of wild salmon, others weigh in heavily on the conditions in salmon farms. These concerns are primarily related to over populating, diet, treatment, and disease.
The Diet and its Affect on Farmed Salmon and People
One of the most common concerns is the diet of farm-raised salmon.
Unlike wild salmon who thrive on microorganisms and have a natural diet, farm raised salmon are subject to a diet high in processed fat and protein. The result is a larger fish with twice the fat, higher calorie content, and less muscle. In addition, the antibiotics used to prevent diseases that spread easily with overcrowding in combination with other chemicals make their way into the flesh. This creates potential health risk and is a significant reason why farm-raised salmon is bad.
Diets have been shown over and over again to be a place where we can make behavioral changes that have lasting benefits to our physical health and mental wellness. As the saying goes, “you are what you eat.” When considering why farm-raised salmon is bad and we follow thia logic, salmon are also what they eat. Let’s take a deeper look.
What do farmed salmon eat?
Farmed salmon are raised in closed pens in the ocean or in lakes. Often referred to as the “feedlots of the seas,” the salmon are raised in pens and fed a combination of ground up smaller fish (herrings, anchovies, and mackerel) and cornmeal filler. The close proximity of the fish requires that they be fed antibiotics to prevent mass infection/disease because they lack the genetic diversity to protect outbreak of diseases.
The feed also contains a dye called cyanoxanthin that changes the color of the fish meat. Because they don’t eat the natural diet that wild salmon do, farmed salmon's flesh is a greyish beige color unless it is dyed to a more marketable pink color. Cyantoxanthin is a known carcinogen.
This “feedlot of the sea” needs to be in a zone with a large tidal flow because the pens need to be flushed to remove the uningested feed and the waste that builds up from having so many fish in close proximity to each other.
Parasites are attracted to the waste and non-ingested feed that builds up around these pens. Sea lice infestations are common in these zones and have a negative effect on wild fish nearby.
How does wild salmon lives and eat.
Born in a clear stream and matured in the open ocean, wild salmon's main food source are those tiny microscopic shrimp called Zooplankton. This is what gives wild salmon that beautiful red color. Interestingly, this is also where wild salmon gets it’s high Omega 3 content. Omega 3s are great for your heart and helpful for childhood brain development.
Wild salmon spends the majority of its five to six year lifespan in the open ocean where it is exposed to far less environmental pollutants than farmed salmon. They live a natural and free life, eating pure and getting its nutrients from a pure and wild food source. No dyes. No antibiotics. Think about this when you are trying to remember why farm-raised salmon is bad.
A number of arguments exist around why farm-raised salmon is bad - environmental, ethical, and nutrition reasons.