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Theology of Salmon: Wild or Farmed?

Most of what people think they know about aquaculture salmon is obsolete, or wasn't true in the first place

Opinion

Food Safety News writer Ross Anderson recently toured fish farms and processing plants in southern Chile as a guest of Salmon of the Americas, a Chilean trade organization. This is the second of two reports.

Puerto Montt, Chile – In the Pacific Northwest, where I’ve lived and worked for 40 years, salmon is more than a commodity. It’s a regional icon and an article of faith, part of a regional doctrine that dictates: thou shalt eat wild salmon only, for farmed salmon is a blasphemy.

As a journalist with agnostic tendencies, I’ve never really subscribed to this belief. But I’ve always been a tad suspicious of farmed salmon. I suppose it has to do with vague recollections of something I read about the use of antibiotics, or to the label we frequently see on salmon packages: “color added.”

So when I jetted off to Chile a few weeks ago, it was with a twinge of skepticism.

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Over the following five days, I saw a lot of fish. I walked the galvanized steel catwalks around floating netpens the size of three football fields and 100 feet deep – pens that contained millions of Atlantic salmon, shadowy missiles milling beneath the surface until the automatic feeders spring to action and the surface suddenly boils with bright, silvery, hungry salmon that reminded me of an Alaska spawning run.

I toured factories that resemble surgical wards, with scores of workers draped in white gowns, masks and rubber boots, stepping through disinfectant baths between rooms. I watched men and women trimming gorgeous, red fillets into meal-size portions for freezing, then for shipment to markets around the world. I listened to workers explain what they do, and what they’ve learned from the last few years, when an invading virus killed millions of fish, and almost killed the industry.

At each stop, I asked questions about our perceptions of farmed salmon, about antibiotics and Omega 3 fatty acids and food coloring.

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Industry leaders, of course, assure us that all is well. So in recent days, I’ve consulted with several independent experts, including Dr. Mike Rust, aquaculture researcher at the Northwest Fisheries Science Center in Seattle; Dr. John Forster, a marine biologist and aquaculture expert based in Port Angeles, WA; and Gary Marty, a fisheries expert with the Canadian Agriculture Ministry and a professor at the University of California. Here’s what I’ve learned.

What’s the deal with “color added?” OK, this is one that bugged me. And unnecessarily so, it seems. Wild salmon get their color from eating algae, insects, shrimp or other food containing “astaxanthin,” the same natural pigment that makes carrots orange. Fish farmers achieve the same result by adding minute amounts of astaxanthin, natural or synthetically produced, to the food pellets. “You’ll find the same stuff on the shelf at your local health food store,” Marty reports.

What’s the risk? None, Rust agrees. “It’s also used in poultry, to make egg yolks more yellow. And it’s actually a bit of an antioxidant.”

Are farmed salmon laced with antibiotics? Aquaculture experts explain that antibiotics have been used to ward off diseases that would sicken or kill fish – in precisely the same way they are used in many common foods. The antibiotics are added to the fishfood, primarily in the early, freshwater stages of their development, when the fish are most susceptible to disease. Two years later, when those fish are harvested, there is little or no trace left in the fish.

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In Norway and Canada, those antibiotics have been almost completely eliminated, replaced by vaccines which do the same job. Chile’s warmer waters, however, are susceptible to “salmon rickettsial syndrome,” or “SRS,” which affects fish, but not people. So the industry continues to use antibiotics in the early stages, while awaiting a vaccine to ward off the disease.

“Disease is part and parcel of all biology, whether it is apples or corn or salmon,” Forster says. “But it gets more attention because aquaculture tends to fall under the authority of fisheries agencies instead of agriculture.”

Don’t farmed salmon lack the Omega 3 fatty acids, along with all their health benefits? No. The experts agree that the Omega 3 benefits are derived from what fish eat, and that pellet-fed farmed salmon offer as much, and in some cases more of those benefits than wild fish.

If there is an issue of food safety, Marty says, it might be that there is a higher risk of Listeria in farmed fish. In one sampling of Canadian fish, two of 40 tested positive for Listeria – a level similar to poultry and other meats. But Listeria is quickly and efficiently killed by cooking, he adds.

There are risks with any food, he says. “But the benefits of eating farmed salmon far exceed the risks.”

Rust agrees. “I’d have to say that 95 percent of what people think they know about aquaculture salmon is either obsolete, or was not true in the first place.”

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And so it goes. There are other issues, of course. Environmental critics contend that those floating mega-farms generate an enormous amount of waste that sifts down through the nets and creates ecological deadzones on the sea bottom. They say that escaped fish pose a risk of competing with native fish. And they argue that fish-farms mine the ocean of important forage fish to be converted into fish-food pellets.

Chile’s salmon farmers now acknowledge that their critics have been right on some issues. The industry grew too fast, packed too many fish into their farms, leaving them susceptible to the virus that nearly brought the industry to its knees just three years ago. But they say they’ve learned their lesson, and are doing a far better job of dealing with the ecosystem they depend on.

Still, the industry is still young. Perhaps the jury is still out on those environmental issues.

But food safety doesn’t appear to be one of them. So, later this month, when my wife and I host a neighborhood gathering, there will be farmed salmon on my barbecue.

——————–

Photos courtesy WarnerHanson


Cover image: Atlantic salmon, most of them weighing four to six pounds, are stacked and ready for processing.


Inside images, top to bottom:


1. A state-of-the-art hatchery near Puerto Mont uses intricate plumbing to continuously recycle its water supply to avoid polluting Chilean lakes.

2. Salmon fillets are processed for shipment to markets in the US, Europe and Japan.

3. Individual salmon portions are weighed before packaging and shipment to overseas markets.

4. Salmon slabs sizzle on the stove in a Chilean restaurant kitchen.

© Food Safety News
  • Ted

    Mr. Anderson, this ranks as one of the finest examples of professional journalism I have had the joy of reading in a long, long time! Thank you, sir!! (Don’t take it personally when the anti-science crowd inevitably piles onto you with their hateful theology)

  • Emily

    What about the use of Emectin to control sea lice, (copepods)in farmed salmon. This product is not approved in the US and also kills other crusteacens on the sea floor like lobsters. This is used in Chile, Canada, Norway but not the U.S. It is not used on young fish alone but on older almost ready to harvest fish.
    The experts did not talk about the use of this pesticide I would bet.

  • http://www.ewos.com I Carr

    The industry is indeed young and it has so far made huge progress towards a more sustainable future. Its no surprise that some challenges remain, but I think these are being systematically addressed through innovation and collaborative efforts. I think healthy farmed salmon should be on everyones bbq this summer!

  • http://burningbird.net Shelley

    Young and unlikely to survive. These salmon farms are dependent on Pacific Mackerel, which is in significant decline. And the techniques used to fish for the Pacific Mackerel are damaging the ecosystem.
    A food isn’t safe if it isn’t sustainable.
    And being funded by the organization being reported on is not an example of journalist integrity.

  • Eggbert

    Drivel. What a half-hearted description of an eighth of the practices in one industry. The author woefully underrated the extent and severity of the challenges this industry faces and creates. This article was developed only to serve as a commercial feel-good buy-more think-less moment. I have nothing friendly to say about the article’s content.

  • Mike Hudson

    Usually a good journalist will get opinions and input from both sides of the issue – not this time I guess?
    Also, I’m personally not so much concerned with big disease outbreaks in the salmon farms of Chile – but VERY concerned about such an outbreak along the US and Canadian West Coast, because it has the potential to wipe out all our wild salmon populations from Alaska to California.

  • alliecan

    Food colouring and antibiotics are a industry standard, they say it’s safe? What kool aid are you drinking? In a day and age where organic is sought due to these ‘standards and norms’, I find this ‘journalism’ highly suspect. Farmed salmon is bringing disease to the wild salmon, polluting the water, and is anything but sustainable to anything on this planet. Wild salmon is, and will continue to be the only safe option for people to eat.

  • Kelly Nelson

    I love it when there is a supportive article on salmon farming, the naysayers question the source of information and funding. Never a problem when it’s a one sided blast from left wing…
    Emily, Ememectin Benzoate is used, and approved in the US. Just so you know.
    Mike Hudson, disease risk is real for sure, but no less a risk from State run hatcheries and Alaska’s salmon ranching programs that use aquaculture methods en masse to support their fisheries. Don’t focus on one method (salmon farming) that probably has fish health programs far superior to that of State run hatchery/ranching techniques.

  • keen observer

    Ross, your analogy to theology is spot on! For too many worshipers the jury is never “still out” on issues of food, health or environment. These pious self-righteous true-believers install themselves as sheriff, judge, jury and executioner. Ideologues who broadly condemn proficient modern food producers with a fanatic religious ferocity bordering on insanity. They alone will decide what is environmentally sustainable and what is not, what is socially desirable and what is not. There is no room for science, practical experience or common sense to intervene. There will be no learning and there will be no compromise. None. Ever. Theirs is not a loving or forgiving epicurean deity, apparently. Woe to the brazen blasphemer who would deign to rationally explore sacred territory policed by these agenda-driven evangelists. I applaud your courage, Ross, and your exemplary talent in writing this fine objective report. Thank you!

  • Javaguy

    Ross: Thanks for a great article. As a fellow PNW resident, I’ve often wondered while standing in the local Costco about the Product of Chile Steelhead and such. Glad to know that the food safety risks are contained. I share the concerns others have stated about the West Coast: Canada and US, fish farming industries’ potential impacts on the wild stocks. Yet, love the benefits of eating salmon of any type, having greatly reduced our family’s red meat intake to the point of only eating organic grass feed beef from the local PCC. Farmed salmon is a complex issue and this is another helpful insight on the industry, keep up the reporting on the industry!

  • Mike Hudson

    Kelly Nelson:
    Yes, at times there are disease outbreaks in our hatcheries that impact our stocks for that year, but none of the deadly virus diseases that spring from aquaculture. ISA (infectious Salmon Anemia, the virus that devastated the Chilean fish farms) is a 100% farm-salmon disease that came over from Europe and has now been found in Canadian waters. It can affect wild salmon populations that mingle off our shores and spread coast-wide to ALL our salmon populations. Should this disease spread, tens of thousands of US coastal jobs will be lost. This is a very very serious risk to our economy and our domestic food supply. If you eat farmed salmon, you contribute to the problem.

  • Ted

    Ah yes, verily I say unto ye: the end of the world is nigh, eh Mike Hudson? Can I get an “amen” sisters? A “hallelujah”? Anything?

  • Mike Hudson

    Ted,
    why should anybody care – right? Do you have anything constructive to offer here, or do you just enjoy basking in your ignorance of other peoples’ problems and concerns?

  • Kelly Nelson

    Mike Hudson, just so other readers have the facts, when you state “ISA has been found in Canadian waters”, it should be made clear that you could only referring to the East coast (Canada has 3 coasts). ISA has never been confirmed in Canada’s West coast fish or waters http://www.inspection.gc.ca/about-the-cfia/newsroom/news-releases/salmon-disease/eng/1331593988662/1331594028592
    I hope you weren’t trying to trick readers who might be slightly geographically challenged?

  • Mike Hudson

    Dear Ted,
    as a commercial fisherman (since almost 20 years), I believe I’m qualified to share my knowledge & viewpoints on this forum about a topic that directly threatens my livelihood and that of a few thousand of my colleagues. If your credentials supercede mine in a way that qualifies you to essentially call me a nutcase – please, by all means enlighten the readers.

  • Mike Hudson

    Kelly Nelson,
    I refer to this article from the NY Times that clearly states that ISA has been detected in British Columbia – on the West Coast of Canada by scientists from Simon Frazer university.http://www.nytimes.com/2011/10/18/science/18salmon.html
    You are correct – the Canadian Government has not confirmed the finding…. Should I as a US citizen trust the Canadian Government to work in my best interest? I guess I’d have to trust my own government that far first…
    Next we could talk about HSMI if you like – but you know what? All these Aquaculture diseases scare the s…t out of me because should they take foot in our waters, the only salmon that can be saved are the farmed ones. Our wild fish do not get the benefits of the medications that are added to the feed pellets because they don’t get fed at the farms. Are you ready to trade in our AK/WA/OR/CA wild salmon and the thousands of small businesses they support for farmed BC salmon? I think that would be a sad trade.

  • randerson

    Thanks to all who took the time to respond to my piece – even the reader who thought it was “drivel,” but still took the time to tell me so. Instant feedback remains one of the miracles of online journalism. And I especially appreciate critics like Mike Hudson, who is willing to attach his name to his critique.
    My apologies for mislabeling the lead photograph on Monday’s story, taken by a colleague during our Chilean tour. It turns out to be a photo of a mussel farm, not salmon, as I had assumed. I regret the error.
    As for individual comments:
    “Being funded by the organization being reported on is not an example of journalistic integrity.” Industry-paid junkets inevitably undermine the credibility of any journalism. Thirty years ago, I crusaded for a code of ethics at the Seattle Times that eventually banned junkets, and that code prevented the Times from publishing a version of this piece. But we decided that consumers deserve to know something about all that Chilean salmon on the market. I can’t afford to make that trip on my own, and no publication was prepared to foot the tab. And, even if I got myself there, I would not have had the critical access to the farms and processing plants. In short, the story could not have been done without taking the junket. So we clearly disclosed the potential conflict at the top of the piece. There it is; take it or leave it.
    “Farmed salmon is bringing disease to the wild salmon, polluting the water, and is anything but sustainable.” Whether farmed salmon transfer disease to wild salmon is still being debated and studied. But it is not an issue in Chile, where there are no wild salmon runs. The issue of pollution has to do with density and location of farms, and the first victim of any pollution would be the farm itself, which Chileans recently learned the hard way. As for sustainability, what we know for sure is that wild salmon are a zero-growth proposition; what we have is what we have. To feed healthy food to a growing global population, we need to get creative. So far, salmon farms appear to be sustainable, with room for cautious growth.
    “I’m personally VERY concerned about such an (ISA virus) outbreak along the US and Canadian West Coast…” Me too. I live in the heart of Northwest salmon country, and I’m for any strategy that keeps it healthy and sustainable. So far, there have been major ISA outbreaks at fish farms in Norway, Scotland and Chile. In each case, the virus killed millions of fish, but the industry learned its lesson and cleaned up its act. In Chile’s case, part of the solution was to switch from Atlantic salmon to Pacific Northwest species – steelhead and coho – because they are far more resistant to ISA. For this and other reasons, the experts I talked to believe the risk of contaminating wild fish is minimal.
    As one of my sources said, every food comes with risks, and I’m sure that includes Chilean salmon. More people have been sickened in recent years by unpasteurized milk, alfalfa sprouts and organic spinach and lettuce than by contaminated hamburger. But at this point, it appears to me that the potential benefits of farmed salmon – low fat, high Omega 3s, etc. – far outweigh the risks. For those who disagree, you’re welcome to go out next month and pay $20 a pound for that first run of wild, Alaskan Copper River king. I love the stuff, but I eat what I can afford to eat.
    —Ross Anderson

  • Mike Hudson

    Mr. Anderson,
    I do appreciate it when somebody has a different opinion from my own – this is how we start dialogues. And at the very least, you DO have an opinion, which is unfortunately more than can be said for the majority of the country.
    For introductions, I’m a CA Salmon Troller and President of the Small Boat Commercial Salmon Fishermen’s Association. When it comes to the farmed-salmon debate, I as a fisherman have a lot at stake – but the people, the consumers, have way more at stake than I, and they are not given the choice. As you say, the scientific debate of wether ISA can spread from farmed to wild salmon is still ongoing – I for one wish we would wait for the outcome of that debate BEFORE farming salmon in wild-salmon territory. Yes, today you can choose between farmed or wild salmon at the fish-counter, but that choice may be a ticking time-bomb that could explode any second.
    There is a major outbreak of ISA on Canada’s East Coast as we speak. Please click http://www.digbycourier.ca/News/2012-04-28/article-2966191/Feds-to-compensate-fish-farm-for-ISA-losses/1
    The Canadian Government is actually compensating the aquaculture operator for 100% of their losses + expenses for disposal of the infected animals – that’s a pretty sweet deal for the corporation that caused this mess, not such a sweet deal for the Canadian people who foot the bill for this man-made disaster and thus keep your price per pound for farmed salmon low. Do you think the Canadian Government is prepared to reimburse the US West Coast fishing fleet 100% should their ISA, HSMI or whatever-disease irreversibly harm our wild fish-stocks? There’s a lot of hidden costs in your 1/2 Lb serving of farmed salmon, and I have a gut feeling that we will all pay these costs sooner rather than later.
    Now the very interesting person in this discussion is Kelly Nelson – in case he’s the Kelly Nelson who I think he is, I hope he didn’t try to trick the reader into believing he’s just a regular guy by omitting his pedigree.
    Have an excellent day.

  • Ross Anderson

    Thanks to all who took the time to respond to my piece – even the reader who thought it was “drivel,” but still took the time to tell me so. Instant feedback remains one of the miracles of online journalism. And I especially appreciate critics like Mike Hudson, who is willing to attach his name to his critique.
    My apologies for mislabeling the lead photograph on Monday’s story, taken by a colleague during our Chilean tour. It turns out to be a photo of a mussel farm, not salmon, as I had assumed. I regret the error.
    As for individual comments:
    “Being funded by the organization being reported on is not an example of journalistic integrity.” Industry-paid junkets inevitably undermine the credibility of any journalism. Thirty years ago, I crusaded for a code of ethics at the Seattle Times that eventually banned junkets, and that code prevented the Times from publishing a version of this piece. But we decided that consumers deserve to know something about all that Chilean salmon on the market. I can’t afford to make that trip on my own, and no publication was prepared to foot the tab. And, even if I got myself there, I would not have had the critical access to the farms and processing plants. In short, the story could not have been done without taking the junket. So we clearly disclosed the potential conflict at the top of the piece. There it is; take it or leave it.
    “Farmed salmon is bringing disease to the wild salmon, polluting the water, and is anything but sustainable.” Whether farmed salmon transfer disease to wild salmon is still being debated and studied. But it is not an issue in Chile, where there are no wild salmon runs. The issue of pollution has to do with density and location of farms, and the first victim of any pollution would be the farm itself, which Chileans recently learned the hard way. As for sustainability, what we know for sure is that wild salmon are a zero-growth proposition; what we have is what we have. To feed healthy food to a growing global population, we need to get creative. So far, salmon farms appear to be sustainable, with room for cautious growth.
    “I’m personally VERY concerned about such an (ISA virus) outbreak along the US and Canadian West Coast…” Me too. I live in the heart of Northwest salmon country, and I’m for any strategy that keeps it healthy and sustainable. So far, there have been major ISA outbreaks at fish farms in Norway, Scotland and Chile. In each case, the virus killed millions of fish, but the industry learned its lesson and cleaned up its act. In Chile’s case, part of the solution was to switch from Atlantic salmon to Pacific Northwest species – steelhead and coho – because they are far more resistant to ISA. For this and other reasons, the experts I talked to believe the risk of contaminating wild fish is minimal.
    As one of my sources said, every food comes with risks, and I’m sure that includes Chilean salmon. More people have been sickened in recent years by unpasteurized milk, alfalfa sprouts and organic spinach and lettuce than by contaminated hamburger. But at this point, it appears to me that the potential benefits of farmed salmon – low fat, high Omega 3s, etc. – far outweigh the risks. For those who disagree, you’re welcome to go out next month and pay $20 a pound for that first run of wild, Alaskan Copper River king. I love the stuff, but I eat what I can afford to eat.
    —Ross Anderson

  • Brent

    What if an expansion of salmon production via commercial farming isn’t the end of the world after all? What if it relieves market supply/demand pressures currently encouraging over-fishing of our wild stocks, lets those stocks replenish to sustainably higher levels? What if it results in commercial fishermen eventually taking more fish per trip with less competition among fisherman “colleagues”, organized and not. Less contentious rail bumping on the fishing ground, more fishermen taking more fish. That is just as likely to happen as the end of the world, probably more likely. That makes me suspect organized commercial fisherman really only fear price competition from successful aquaculturists. At current prices of #20/lb and up, wild salmon offers no concrete features or benefits over farmed salmon at, say, $9.99/lb. I think commercial fishermen need to build up their own industry niche instead of firing over the bow and attempting to foul the nets of fish farmers. Consumers will decide this issue, not a few unionizes boutique commercial fishermen.

  • DC Reid

    1. You should be more critical and investigate all fish farm claims. Google: fish farm environmental damage. You will be reading for days.
    2. Your Gary Marty did a lice study using Marine Harvest data two years ago. That constitutes a conflict of interest. His testing farmed salmon for disease was also criticized at the Cohen Commission in December by Miller who said that Marty said he was using one ISA test, but was not. And was using an unproven probe/primer.
    3.Adding astaxanthin is adding chemicals. And natural sources are krill, that as fish stocks have dwindled, they are now fishing down the fish stocks of the last pristine place on earth, Antarctica. You should do more research instead of being taken in by fish farm spin.
    4. Kibenge on fish farm disease says this: Aquatic animal disease is part and parcel of aquaculture. There are several dozen diseases, fungi and bacteria. See this for ISA: http://fishfarmnews.blogspot.ca/2011/10/isa-infections-world-wide-sine-1984.html. One thrid to one half of all aquaculture product is lost to disease every year, or $35 to $49 billion.
    5. When ever a fish farm tells you something go and look at the research and independently verify their claims. My blog is a good place to start: http://www.fishfarmnews.blogspot.com.

  • http://burningbird.net Shelley

    Ross Anderson,
    And your piece reflects the bias introduced by the fact that you were a guest, you were given access, you did spend time with the folks in a manner that influenced your views of what they were saying. Disclosing the fact that your expenses were paid by the industry doesn’t somehow make the bias inherent in your piece “OK”.
    Even a cursory glance around the internet exposes concerns about the salmon farming in Chile that you didn’t mention, not once.
    Everything that is food related exists within a complex web of inter-dependencies. Can we really afford shallow coverage of complex topics? Isn’t that one reason why there’s so much confusion nowadays?
    Farmed salmon is, in some ways, just another variation of pink slime: it’s not a direction we can afford to go.

  • Ted

    Hang in there Ross. Your report is solid, so proven by the hoard of detractors pouring out of the woodwork. An enormous volume of anti-fishfarm internet propaganda does indeed pop up with a Google search, just as the anti-progress activists say. So why are they so peeved that you would add just one balanced truthful story to the mix? It publicly questions their faith, that’s why. Your facts and reasoned attitude are worth 1000 times their volume in hysterical anti-industry preaching.

  • Mike Hudson

    Brent:
    1. There is NO overfishing going on on ANY of our wild salmon stocks coastwide – at least not by fishermen. What’s holding our salmon-populations back is loss of habitat, dams and excessive water diversions. We may never get wild salmon numbers back up to historic levels, but we can do a lot to increase their numbers using sensible approaches to our water situations.
    Actually there is NO overfishing going on for any species along the entire west coast (except 2 different tunas that have the unfortunate habit of swimming mostly in international waters outside the reach of our laws) – yeah I know, nobody believes me when I say that… so please go directly to the source here: http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/sfa/statusoffisheries/2012/first/MapOverfishingStocksCY_Q1_2012.pdf
    2. We do not compete with farmed salmon – that is the very least of my concerns. The product we bring to the market is a totally different fish, it actually tastes good (-: So I really don’t care if farmed salmon goes on sale tomorrow at $1.99/Lb – it makes Zero difference for my business. Apples and Oranges.
    3. Now I am what? A unionized boutique commercial fisherman? LOL I like it! If our CA fleet goes out in a good year and ends up catching 10 Million pounds of really good wild king salmon – that’s one heck of a boutique! – What do you do for a living?
    Ted: Do you really have nothing to contribute here other than your pre-digested tea-party drivvel? C’mon man, give it a shot – just a little something of substance related to the topic.

  • Ted

    Frank Perdue wouldn’t get out of bed in the morning to grow and pack an order of just 10 million lbs of chicken. Tyson wouldn’t even reply to the email. So, boutique salmon? You bet! And now we learn it will never be anything more than that without aquaculture. Sorry, but you couldn’t have made a better argument for progress in modern fish culture, Mike.

  • Kelly Nelson

    Mike Hudson, I don’t think I’m the person you think I am? Anyways, I care none about the source or person, I just care about facts. And that’s why I felt the need to correct you – your statements were incorrect. To bolster your opinion (which your entitled to) on incorrect information (which your not entitled to) is wrong, and someone who is involved in the fishing industry should know that.
    Dont lie, don’t purposely omit information, don’t dream of gov’t conspiracy theories. Just stick to fact.
    In my opinion, salmon farming, salmon ranching and truly wild fisheries can and do coexist on the Pacific west coast. As Brent says above, market your product as the wonderful food it is, and try not to de-market others. If you all fight, my wife will just be confused and buy me hot dogs…

  • http://www.protestingtheprotesters.wordpress.com June Sharkey

    Mike Hudson, you say “I refer to this article from the NY Times that clearly states that ISA has been detected in British Columbia – on the West Coast of Canada by scientists from Simon Frazer university,” however, this article is not accurate. If there were, in fact, ISA in BC waters the farms would be the first to know about it because their fish would be dying. This has not happened because there is no ISA in BC waters. It is in the farmers best interest to test regularly for this virus and it has been their policy to do so for many years. For an alternate look at the ISA scare perpetuated by SFU please read this article: http://salmonfarmscience.com/2011/10/17/isa-in-b-c/

  • Mike Hudson

    Hello Kelly Nelson,
    so then you are not Kelly Nelson, VP, CFO and Secretary of Highliner Foods Inc.? Sorry then, just a case of mistaken identity – it’s not so often that we get to hear from the upper echelon of the dark side personally, I thought that was you.
    Hmmmm.. so: Don’t lie, don’t omit info….
    Let’s see – How did BP do on that front in your opinion? How about Hurricane Katrina, how did the US government do? Or how about the oil spill that happened recently (1-2 years ago) in SF Bay, where the company took the pilot off the ship and hid him for 48 hours so he could pass his sobriety test…. Oh.. how about the Fukushima reactors that are still melting today?
    We seem to always get the pertinent information about the size of the disaster just a little too late – and it’s not a “theory” if it’s actually happening.
    SO I said ISA was detected in BC West Coast Waters – and it was detected by University Scientists – where is the lie you imply? The Companies and the Government are not fessing up, ok, it’s not in their interest to fess up and face the charges as long as nothing really bad happened yet… and maybe it’ll go away… Of course multinational business interests would NEVER omit mentioning any such important information to the people….
    Now of course, if in the world you live in, Governments never lie to you, or omit important facts, and where all companies, corporations and other big business interests always abide by the rules & work in the best interest of all – may I suggest something by the Brothers Grimm for some excellent bedtime reading?
    In my opinion, Salmon Farming can live perfectly fine alongside Wild Salmon Fisheries – but quite possibly not vice versa. What I do as a fisherman has no impact on these farms, but what these farms do has a great impact on the fish I chase. It just has not happened… yet. Think of the consequences.

  • Mike Hudson

    Ted,
    finally! I was about to give up on you (-:
    Too bad we have to cut the conversation off so soon, because my boat is all fueled-up and I will head out to sea tomorrow to chase my boutique salmon in order to maintain my make-believe business.
    I don’t think Frank Perdue gets out of bed at all any longer – he’s dead. But point well taken.
    Now go ask a good economist what makes up the backbone of our economy in the US. Is it small business, or is it the mega corporations?
    You see, all the money I make (as measly as it may be in the grand scheme of things), stays in my local economy because my HQ is where I live. My employees all make a buck, and they live in the neighborhood too. None of the $$ my business generates goes to some corporate HQ to be distributed to international shareholders. I produce American food in America for Americans – and I’m pretty proud of that. The food I produce is as good as it gets – it doesn’t need artificial colorings, artificial flavors, artificial sweeteners; it doesn’t need to be treated with antibiotics, antiviral drugs, or other pharmaceuticals; it doesn’t need anything made in China or other parts of the world… it is an excellent product all by itself – and the fact that it may be a boutique food is a pretty poor statement for the health of our country.

  • Mike Hudson

    June Sharkey,
    please go to youtube and type “Alexandra Morton” in the search function. You will find videos of her trying to approach fish farms that had been shut down by the owners to ask questions about why the farm was closed…. it’s all out there.
    I also don’t believe that the NY Times could stay in business disseminating false information about any industry that would in turn sue that paper in a heartbeat if they thought they could win.

  • Emily

    Kelly Nelson, thanks for the information on Emectin Benzoate.
    True Emectin Benoate is approved in the U.S. as a pesticide for treating trees and other crops for pests but not caged fish, unless it was approved recently.
    Do you have any citations on this pesticides approved use in the U.S. in caged salmon. Can you cite a CFR reference for use on food producint animals?
    That information would be appreciated.
    Emily

  • Rich

    Interesting that flavor of farmed versus wild fish wasn’t included in the evaluation. This article read like a quality control review of some new prescription medicine. Somewhere the “food” got lost.

  • Kelly Nelson

    Mike, me, boss of Highliner? Haha, I wish!
    Let me finish our conversation by simply saying that I hear your concern, and it is a real concern. I just ask that people be critical thinkers on this subject and weigh benefit/risk on a global scale, and not from a personal, vested interested perspective.
    I must add though, that despite your highly credible source (sarcasm) at the New York Times, ISA was never confirmed on the West coast by any scientists as you suggest. It has, however, been confirmed on the East coast. So any “government coverup” story is then ridiculous – why would the same government admit to one coast and not the other?
    And please, don’t bother using a You Tune activists as a credible source – any cred you may have had with me dropped significantly at that point.

  • kelpwatcher

    I enjoyed this article, though it seems the questions posed on food safety are what is outdated, not the threat that farmed salmon poses to consumer or the environment. The level of endocrine disrupting and cancer causing agents such as PCDD/PCB/pesticides/brominated flame retardants create a risk in young consumers that outweigh the benefits. Also, while the long chain omega-3s in fish are clearly beneficial, they are not essential. The only essential omega-3 is alpha-linoleic acid (ALA) that comes from nuts and seeds, and we humans can metabolized the longer chain fatty acids found in fish ourselves from ALA. The level of microbes farmed fish carry, creating a biohazard to wild ecosystems from every kitchen sink where they are washed before the BBQ, has caused the same Norwegian companies that operate salmon feed lots in Chile and BC to has caused their product to be banned by their biggest consumer, Russia. A few years ago Russia banned Norwegian farmed salmon due to cadmium and lead contamination (from Chinese feed premix supplies), now it’s food borne pathogens. MOSCOW | Sat May 5, 2012 10:16am EDT
    (Reuters) – Russia temporarily halted chilled salmon imports from 13 Norwegian firms, the animal and plant health watchdog in Moscow said. ://www.reuters.com/article/2012/05/05/us-russia-norway-salmon-idUSBRE84407C20120505

  • Laurie Watt

    Very interesting discussion. Here’s a link to a comprehensive summary of the issues surrounding feedlot salmon on the cost of British Columbia, Canada by Dr. Alexandra Morton (who, by the way Kelly Nelson, is a registered biologist, not a YouTube activist): http://alexandramorton.typepad.com/alexandra_morton/2012/05/european-salmon-viruses-in-pacific-salmon-denied-by-government-and-industry.html

  • Laurie Watt

    And here’s Dr. Morton’s recent live presentation on the same topic: http://vimeo.com/41523842

  • Mike Hudson

    I don’t know if anybody is still reading this – but I did enjoy our discussion in this forum. I just returned from 10+ days at sea catching wild California King Salmon with 50/50 success – good enough for the beginning of the season.
    Kelly Nelson:
    1. Why would the Canadian Government (and the fish farm- corporations) admit to outbreaks on the east coast, but not on the west coast?: Are there any commercially viable populations of wild salmon on the east coast that could be affected by fish-farm diseases? No. On the west coast? Yes.
    2. Yes, I am personally vested in the commercial salmon fishery along our coast – and yes, that makes me somewhat prejudiced against farmed salmon, because I know the difference in taste, and general goodness of the product – and I love our wild fish populations – I think they are one of the great things that our country has.
    3. Looking at it from a global perspective rather than from the vested interest I have, I’d still say that we are losing too much every year in the name of corporate commerce. World-wide, we lose thousands of species every year – no big deal if it happens in other parts of the world we don’t personally inhabit…. but salmon are a key-species of our coast. If we lose these wild salmon, we surely will lose a lot. So it’s a local thing after all maybe? These Salmon are one of the main reasons why I came here, and stayed here. For a job, I can do other things – I could be an electrician, a woodwright, a refrigeration guy, a plumber, a painter, etc…. I have to master all these trades in order to keep my boat afloat and be a fisherman in the first place… But these wild salmon are more than a job to me (and to all the others who pursue them) – they are a matter of love and respect, and a matter of what we leave behind in this world for those who come after us. They are a matter of how we are going to be judged by future generations.
    I’m here today pleading you to help protect the remaining 5% of wild salmon along the entire west coast. The last 5% – imagine that. 5% is a pretty fragile thing… 70% – no problem, we can lose another 20% without causing permanent harm…. but at 5%, one bad decision can decide the future.
    Do you care enough to let our salmon live?

    • mark weisberg

      would the fishing industry and fishermen be willing to stop all fishing for 1 or 2 years if that what is needed to save the 5% to get to a 70% population? just wondering.. mark

  • http://www.aquacomgroup.com Dave Conley

    Just posted today by John Sackton, Editor & Publisher, Seafood.com News – Have salmon farmers won the public opinion war? – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AsBgxn1RKug.

  • educated consumer

    Ted, you are obviously a greedy money hungry industrialist who worships companies who inject food with hormones, like perdue and tyson, and feeds them food they aren’t supposed to eat, all for your nice house, living in your nice bubble.
    Because of people like you our food and water has become toxic, and needs to be filtered 50 times. Your children will bear the consequences of it, you can be sure.
    Have fun on the golf course chatting with your buddies.

    • tracey johnson

      U r an uneducated idiot. I work for a very large grocery chain in the southeast, and I am a seafood specialist. Our farm raised color enhanced salmon are not injected. They are fed pellets made from the same things that wild salmon eat. Nothing Artificial. Farms are not the same as they were even two years ago. Please learn before u speak about something u know nothing about.

  • educated consumer

    To you fish farmers,
    If you weren’t so greedy, fish farming on a moderate scale without antibiotics, and artificial coloring could have been a good thing. But you all just got too greedy and messed it up.
    I hope you fish farmers come back in your next life as a salmon raised in one of those tanks….hahahaha

    • samantha leckie

       you might be interested in watching this clip about sustainable farmed fish that doesn’t harm the environment.  Today’s standards of food are weak and toxic! when in fact they don’t have to be…. 
      Solutions are out there!
      Here’s the link name it falls under Dan Barber: “How I fell in love with a fish” (Ted talks) or
      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0WrKFJmRXVo

  • pucon chile

    The chilean salmon industry is the closest thing that Chile has to the Mafia. Having lived next to a fish farm for 10 years, and seen the damage they do and the complete lack of oversight by the government I speak from personal experience. If you trust these very same people to produce a safe quality product,good luck Pucon chile

  • http://twitter.com/SimplyEconomics EconomicDepression

    So PCB poison pellets that give you cancer are good to consume..

  • http://twitter.com/evkeir KEvans

    Huh! not one mention of the toxic PCBs in this article let alone how the industry is making any effort to eliminate and control in the future.  Subsequently I recommend disregarding this article all together. I could not in good conscience recommend farmed salmon to anyone. These folks need a serious dose of conscious capitalism.

  • http://twitter.com/evkeir KEvans

    Huh!  No mention of the PCB problem that is probably more of a concern then the hormones practice. I would recommend that anybody who reads this article not be swayed towards farmed salmon.  This industry needs a healthy does of conscious capitalism and then start over. 

    • NITTANYRAY

       I suggest you read this article
      http://www.ftai.com/articles/Farmed%20Salmon%20Contam%20Hardy.pdf
      The level of PCBs in farm raised salmon from Chile is less than found in chicken breasts and milk produced in this country. Norway does have a problem probably because northern Europe is more industrialized than Chile and consequently there are more PCBs in their water from run off.
      Actually wild caught salmon caught in Puget Sound have more PCBs than farm raised salmon from Chile.
      It is just as important to know where it came from as whether it was wild caught of farm raised.

  • Vern

    Several years ago, I read where the fishermen in Alaska were struggling.  Catch was low–government regulations were onerous, and competition from farmed salmon was cutting into their profits.  They had decided to launch a media blitz about that farmed salmon was a health risk, and environmental risk, and not nearly as healthy as “Wild” salmon.  I told my wife that the price of salmon would go up.  We would be bombarded about how much better “Wild Caught” salmon was than “Farmed.”

    I just read a column from CNN (Communist News Network) about how much better “Wild” salmon is than farmed salmon.  They can not make the case without talking about greedy corporations.  How about greedy Unionized Alaska fishermen?    Alaska is the most unionized state except for New York. 

    A woman told me, years ago, “Vern, it is not that you are really dumb–you just know so many things that are not true.”  Farmed salmon are fed a diet that we know about.  Wild salmon eat whatever they can find.  How can anyone really believe that what they eat is better?

    I don’t care how much money salmon farmers, corn farmers, cotton farmers, produce farmers, beef producers or anyone else makes–if they can sell me good tasting food that is safe at affordable prices.  And I could care less where it comes from.  China, Chile, Mexico, or the U.S.A.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Victor-E-Sasson/100001811405690 Victor E. Sasson

    If you are going to buy farmed salmon, I would do it at Whole Foods, which says none of its farmed fish contains antibiotics. Also, the color of wild salmon can never be duplicated in farmed cousins. And if you can get wild salmon year-round fresh, frozen and smoked, buying farmed salmon is just a foolish attempt to save money by buying lower quality fish.

    • tracey johnson

      U can also buy farm raised salmon at publix supermarkets. No hormones or antibiotics added. Also, publix does one thing while foods does not. They test the water twice as much than the regulations require for food safety, and monitor the farms they use for cleanliness and cruelty issues. Publix cares about not only their customers, but the qualityand quality of life for all of their farm raised species.

  • http://www.facebook.com/jack.jason.5011516 Jack Jason

    hallo every one now am eating laksefilet .that is salmon filet for 1 week every day .and am in norway do you think its safe ?

  • http://www.facebook.com/jack.jason.5011516 Jack Jason

    i really like to know

  • paula

    wow thats really shocking! i didnt know farm-raised salmon can cause cancer. im totally not eating farm-raised salmon again! :(

  • kalihikai

    Farmed salmon are 12-15% fat, causing over the recommended 3 grams of the long chain omega-3s, which is a risk for bleeding according to the FDA from 2004. Then, all that fat (2-3x that of wild salmon) accumulates the most toxic congeners of dioxins and dioxin-like PCBs. We now know are understanding the risk of PCBs, which can be upwards of 16 times in farmed salmon compared to wild. Recently, it has been stated that “Staggering” levels of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) have been found in farmed salmon. Prenatal exposure to PCBs has been linked to lower birth weights, smaller head circumferences, and abnormal reflex abilities in newborns and to mental impairment in older children.

    Sarah E Santiago, Grace H Park, Kelly J Huffman.Consumption habits of pregnant women and implications for developmental biology: a survey of predominantly Hispanic women in California. Nutrition Journal, 2013; 12 (1): 91

  • Bonnie Ayers

    Thank you for clearing up my concern about omega 3 in farm raised fish. I love fish and now I feel even better about eating fish. I found. your artical very interesting and look forward to reading more.

  • tjohnson4

    Here is a good documentary which talks about how fish farms are affecting the wild Salmon population in Canada. Before you comment please watch the video. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MTbxOFcvC4U