An op-ed piece appeared today in the NY Times that sheds a little more disturbing light on the plight of wild salmon. The article also points up the serious problem in farmed salmon of not only not being as rich in omega 3 fats, but of being tainted with the pesticide emamectin benzoate.

Coho Salmon

Just as feed lots breed disease in livestock, so aquatic feed lots (aquapens) breed disease in sea stock. One of the unforeseen consequences to fish farming in the open sea is that parasites that infest the feedlot can escape to infest the wild populations, further decimating them.

The collapse of the Pacific salmon runs this year and the ban on taking salmon from Pacific waters has left only the Alaskan runs to support the appetites of Americas salmon-hungry population. Consequently, fresh wild Alaskan salmon will be as pricey as caviar this summer.

The collapse of the wild salmon runs is a real problem that’s got to be addressed sooner rather than later or before long there won’t be wild salmon available at any price. So I join with Taras Grescoe in limiting my consumption of wild salmon in the hope that with a little TLC and tincture of time the wild runs in the Pacific can recover.

Halibut, anyone?


  1. The more I read/learn about commercial fishing (of any species), the more I am reluctant to consume fish or fish products. We are really screwing up the ocean ecosytems with our industrial fish techniques, between dredging the ocean bottom, overfishing, and breaking the ocean food/breeding chain.

    Cod: A Biography of the Fish that Changed the World, is a wonderful, eye opening book that has many lessons for us, not just about cod. The paperback version is a great size for summer travel reading.

  2. I should have mentioned that instead of fish, I am consuming more pastured bison and other pastured animal products, very good sources of omega 3s. I also have reduced omega -6 intake greatly (grain, grain-fed animal products, and industrial oils).

  3. Like Anna, we have nearly stopped eating fish…although we LOVE tilapia and do still eat that a couple of times a month. My family has never much liked the taste of salmon.

    I was fortunate to find a local rancher with grass-fed beef at a reasonable price. His meat is checked at U of A (Arizona) labs regularly and has omega 3s at 5.5 to 8 times the levels in most salmon plus very high amounts of CLA…plus it tastes amazing! I’ve also begun buying grass-fed lamb and free-range chickens and eggs. Hopefully, these changes will have a positive impact on our health!

  4. Too bad for me, Salmon is the only fish I can eat. I have always strayed away from the farmed sort and now I feel a bit vindicated with my refusal to eat it. Things may be a bit different over in the UK (where I am now, though I was in the Yukon most of my life, and have had my share of fresh salmon from the Yukon river) but I still try to find wild for the occasional rare treat.
    The Salmon has a great deal of signifigance to me spiritually as well so the way that the Salmon Runs have been going in the Yukon over the past few years have really been distressing. I have to wonder how long it will be before the dolphins follow…

  5. And do you know there has been serious talk about killing off some of the sea lion population because they are viewed as competitors for salmon?

    It is not just the salmon pens that are threatening wild salmon either, and frankly, sea lions are way down on the list of threats. (Why don’t they shoot grizzly bears while they’re at it? Sheesh. I’m being ironic here, by the way.) Actually, one BIG threat to salmon has been the practice of damming rivers that empty into the Pacific, especially in the Pacific Northwest, for hydroelectric power. I’m afraid “salmon ladders” have not done as much to keep the populations up as was previously supposed.

    Basically at this point it’s blow up the dams and ban the farms or we won’t have salmon anymore. At least, not salmon worth eating.

  6. fishing is to eat the fish u caught is even greater

    COMMENT from MD EADES: I believe you’ve misunderstood the point. No one said anything about fishing’s being a bad thing. Something is happening to the salmon runs–clearly nothing to do with the fishing–and it will impact us all, including those who love to fish for salmon and eat them (which includes us.)

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