One of the most common fish consumed today is salmon. 75% of the fish you consume comes from farms. Because it is more difficult to obtain, wild-caught salmon can occasionally be more expensive. Hence, we look at the pros and cons of salmon farming.
Omega-3 fatty acids and a lot of protein are both found in salmon. These provide a wide range of advantages that can enhance heart and brain health. The two species of salmon differ in how they are produced or captured. This may have an impact on how they taste, feel, and contain nutrients.
To harvest wild salmon, divers, handlines, nets, or traps are used. The salmon develop in their natural habitat. They don’t receive any additives or special diets.
Salmon farmed for food is raised in freshwater or tanks. They are raised to be consumed. They occasionally have a different texture and variable nutritional content. This is a result of the various diets that are provided to them.
Salmon fish farming began as an experiment in the 1960s, but it later developed into a thriving industry in Chile and Norway.
In the last 40 years, the farmed salmon industry has expanded significantly, and today, almost 70% of salmon produced worldwide is farmed. More than 2,200,000 tonnes of salmon from farms were produced in 2015, compared to 880,000 tonnes of salmon from wild fisheries.
Because multiple natural variables frequently need to be present to allow optimal Atlantic salmon production, a few agricultural regions—Chile, Norway, Canada, and Scotland—have traditionally dominated the industry.
These include a protected shoreline, cold sea temperatures ranging between 8°C and 14°C (46°F and 57°F), and favorable ecological circumstances. Australia, the Faroe Islands, Iceland, Ireland, and New Zealand are currently home to salmon farming operations.
About 3 years pass during the salmon aquaculture production cycle. The salmon are relocated to cages in seawater after their first year of production in regulated freshwater conditions.
When the farmed salmon reaches a size that allows for harvesting, they are moved to processing facilities where they are made ready for sale. The majority of farmed salmon supplied to consumers is sold as fillets, while whole fish are also available.
Table of Contents
Pros and Cons of Salmon Farming
Farm-raised The most prevalent variety of salmon in the United States is the Atlantic variety. The Endangered Species Act forbids the use of wild-caught Atlantic salmon. Salmon with this label is not real salmon.
Pros of Salmon Farming
- Increase in Omega-3 Fatty Acids
- A Strategy for Reducing the Overuse of Fish Resources
- Income Source
- Our Food Chain is More Flexible as a Result
1. Increase in Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Salmon that is reared on farms has a more nutrient-rich diet. Typically, plants, cereals, and fishmeal are part of their meals. These salmon’s omega-3 fatty acids are also excellent for your nervous system.
2. A Strategy for Reducing the Overuse of Fish Resources
In recent years, nearly 30% of the natural biomes where commercial fishing occurs have been overfished. Some species are disappearing by 90% in some areas. Fish farming is a chance to satisfy the growing demand for seafood without adding to the stress on the environment.
3. Income Source
While fish farming does eliminate chances for commercial fishing, it also creates jobs in the area that are frequently well-paid. Because of it, there are also indirect roles in the transportation industry.
4. Our Food Chain is More Flexible as a Result
Aquaculture is feasible practically anywhere since we can construct fish farms close to almost any body of water. Numerous species can now be raised indoors thanks to new filtering technologies.
Cons of Salmon Farming
- Persistent Organic Contaminants
- Added Red Dye
- More Saturated Fat
- In General, Eating Farmed Salmon is Bad
- Salmon Farms are Unsustainable
- Salmon Grown Commercially is Harmful to the Environment
- If the Farm Fails, It puts other Marine Species in Danger
- Alters the Ecosystem in the Area
1. Persistent Organic Contaminants
Salmon grown on farms contains persistent organic contaminants that have been related to type 2 diabetes and obesity. Additionally, they have been connected to a higher risk of stroke in women. Salmon grown in captivity have levels of polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB) that are five to ten times greater than salmon obtained in the wild.
2. Added Red Dye
Natural, wild salmon has pink or crimson meat. This is because they eat prawns and krill for food. The flesh of farm-raised salmon is greyer since they don’t have the same diet.
Farmers feed their salmon a synthetic substance to “pigment” the flesh to give it a naturally pink appearance. Your body could experience negative long-term repercussions from this practice.
3. More Saturated Fat
While salmon produced on farms have higher quantities of omega-3 fatty acids due to their altered diet, they also have higher levels of saturated fat.
Antibiotics are administered to farm-raised salmon to stop infections. The antibiotics in these salmon may enter your body if you consume them. As a result, your body may become infected with bacteria that are resistant to antibiotics.
5. In General, Eating Farmed Salmon is Bad
For its protein, minerals, and heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids, doctors advise eating salmon. At least two servings of fish should be consumed each week, according to the American Heart Association. But they rarely specify the type of salmon you should consume or issue a warning about the dangers.
The generalization that salmon should be a component of a healthy diet when the fish comes from open-net farms is disputed by several experts and scientific investigations. Although customers rarely have access to sufficient information to make such decisions, some types of farmed salmon may be safer than others.
It’s unlikely that labels will reveal if the fish was wild or farmed, less alone what pesticides were employed. Organic salmon doesn’t even have a definition according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
According to several research, eating one meal per month of farmed Atlantic salmon exposes consumers to contamination levels that are higher than WHO recommendations. Due to the potential harm that pollutants could do to developing brains, newborns, children, and pregnant women are in the highest danger.
Because of to overuse of chemicals and disease, Seafood Watch, an independent fish consumption guide linked with the Monterey Bay Aquarium, advises against eating the majority of farmed Atlantic salmon. Nutritionists typically advise against consuming farmed salmon in favor of wild salmon.
6. Salmon Farms are Unsustainable
Salmon farms frequently promote their salmon as naturally sourced and sustainable. These statements are false.
Salmon are meat-eaters. Most salmon diet is made up of 25 to 30 percent fish meal and fish oil from small forage fish including anchovies, sardines, mackerel, herring, and others. A whole 25% of the fish taken from the waters of the world is used as animal and pet food.
Huge trawlers plunder the fisheries off the coasts of Peru and West Africa to supply the rising worldwide demand for salmon, depriving subsistence fishers of their livelihood and driving up food insecurity.
Salmon growers contend that as the world’s population rises, they provide the necessary protein. It is risky to deplete low-income countries’ fisheries to supply wealthy nations with unsustainable species.
Alternative protein sources are now being developed in start-ups and academic labs. Small fish are still being exploited by the industry, and there is no end in sight.
The sustainability claims made by the sector have recently been contested in court. The biggest salmon producer in the world, Mowi ASA of Norway, settled a fraudulent advertising dispute in a federal court in New York City a year ago. The corporation agreed to stop referring to its smoked salmon as being “naturally raised” and “sustainably sourced” and paid a fine of $1.3 million.
7. Salmon Grown Commercially is Harmful to the Environment
Salmon grown commercially is harmful to the environment. The fish spend two to three years in open-net farms, which are 30 feet below the surface and tethered to the seabed and can hold up to a million salmon crammed into 10 or 12 cages.
Small parasites known as sea lice and several viruses thrive in the cramped cages, where they kill farmed fish and put wild salmon at risk when currents move them away from the farms.
Antibiotics and insecticides in massive amounts, including neurotoxins that are prohibited, are used to combat parasites and infections. In addition to falling to the seafloor below the cages, some of the residue ends up in the salmon.
Excessive feed waste, decaying fish, feces, and chemical residue combine to create a toxic stew that kills or drives away marine life for hundreds of yards when left untreated. One image we discovered showed a yardstick embedded in the slime beneath a fish farm at the 32-inch level.
An alarming amount of salmon in open-net farms perish from parasites, sickness, and warmer waters. Tens of millions of fish, or 15 to 20 percent of farmed salmon, are thought to perish each year before being collected.
In contrast, feedlot cattle had a mortality rate of 3.3% and factory chickens of 5%. The sea lice plumes from the farms are especially dangerous for young wild salmon that are just starting their migration. Salmon from farms that escape compete with wild salmon for food, and their interbreeding weakens the gene pool.
Consumers are willing to spend more for products that are environmentally friendly and sustainable, according to several recent surveys. Salmon produced on land has the potential to completely change the market.
For the time being, making wise decisions for our health and the health of the earth depends on transparency, improved regulation, and accurate labeling of farmed salmon. We won’t be serving farmed Atlantic salmon raised in open-net pens until that time, and you shouldn’t either.
8. If the Farm Fails, It puts other Marine Species in Danger
If a fish farm’s artificial structures malfunction for any reason, the escaped fish become an invasive species in the surrounding ecosystem. Even if they exist naturally there, the sheer volume of them that are released into the rivers can destroy the area.
9. Alters the Ecosystem in the Area
The local rivers will change as fish artificial cages are built. Advances in aquaculture have led to the degradation of mangroves throughout Southeast Asia. We can raise the likelihood of floods by altering the way tidal cycles function.
We understand that to meet future protein demands, farmed salmon output must expand, but this must be accompanied by considerable environmental impact reductions and increases in resource efficiency.
With the use of ethical aquaculture practices, we can make sure that the protein we consume is produced in a way that promotes wholesome diets and more sustainable food systems.
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A passion-driven environmentalist by heart. Lead content writer at EnvironmentGo.
I strive to educate the public about the environment and its problems.
It has always been about nature, we ought to protect not destroy.