Throughout the next few weeks on the blog, we’ll be discussing salmon, specifically how salmon travels from the water to our shelves. There are three categories of salmon: farmed, organic and wild. Each of these different methods of raising or harvesting salmon have different pros and cons, some with more of the latter than others. Here at Sunshine Coast Organic Meats, we’re dedicated to providing you with healthy, good-for-the-planet (and your tastebuds) products, found locally and sold consciously for the planet and its people. As a result, we believe that the wild-caught salmon is the best option for you — and we’ll explain later in another blog. Today, we wanted to explain the reality of farmed salmon.
Farmed salmon is found most often on conventional market shelves, as it is the cheapest, fastest and most abundant form of salmon collection. Each underwater cage can contain up to a million salmon, growing until they’re large enough to be sold. This means that supermarkets can meet the demand for over 50,000 pounds of salmon every year (that’s nearly 23,000 kg). It might seem like a good thing — salmon is famous for its health benefits, and it's important that it is accessible to as many people as possible — however, this kind of production always comes at a cost.
Fish farming is performed all around the world, and much of it is imported to Australia for supermarket shelves. This globality means that different farms are subject to different (or no) regulatory regimes; the standards of cleanliness, animal welfare and quality processes are different everywhere. This lack of regulation, and the global demand for salmon, has lead to dozens of problems. There have been repeated reports of overcrowded environments for farmed fish, including the previously mentioned millions of salmon per cage. Overcrowding has lead to a decline in fish health and quality: similar to caged hens and the quality of chicken meat and eggs. This has also created a problem of parasites, jumping from one fish to the other, growing and breeding in size. These parasites are combated with deadly chemicals being put in the water, which is inadvertently being consumed by the fish, leading to potentially poisoned fish meat. There are also reports of contaminated fish food, or food which is unsuitable for fish.
More than just lower quality, or potentially dangerous, fish, is the consequence for the environment. Not only is the introduction of chemicals bleeding into the surrounding water, breeding and releasing parasites, but it is creating an unsuitable environment for future fish and aquatic ecosystems. With poisoned water and parasite infestations, even fish farming will suffer.
Ultimately, farmed fish doesn’t just suffer from being imported or mass produced, but also from injury, parasites, chemicals and inappropriate food. In the next few weeks, we’ll discuss organic salmon as the step up from farmed fish and wild salmon. We wholeheartedly suggest paying a little extra to get the most goodness out of salmon with organic or wild-caught salmon.