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Salmon farming poses dire threat

There is something very bad going on. The five species of salmon on the West Coast are in big trouble for several reasons. Logging, mining, water pollution, dams, overharvest and mismanagement have combined to extinct about 40 percent of the populations of Pacific Northwest anadromous fishes.

This amounts to a global tragedy, and the outlook is grim. Restoration efforts to date have been very expensive and mostly ineffective. On top of all these problems, there is a new threat ” salmon farming. Something like 80 percent of salmon on the market come from farms ” floating pens which hold thousands of fish ” and these farms are serious threats to wild fish.

– Pollution: These fish are fed like feedlot cattle, and uneaten food falls to the ocean floor below to rot.



– Disease: Any time animals are crowded together, disease transmission skyrockets. Diseases in farmed salmon then pass to wild fish.

– Genetics: Escapes from salmon pens can interbreed with wild fish, producing non-native hybrids which threaten wild fish genetics.




– Antibiotic misuse: Antibiotics are commonly added to the food fed to penned salmon, and then to you.

– Economic impacts: Most commercial salmon fishermen have given up ” penned salmon are cheaper than wild salmon.

There’s another problem with farmed salmon ” it tastes horrible, and it doesn’t even look like salmon. I was shocked to open a can of salmon recently ” the meat was gray, not pink, and it did not even vaguely taste like salmon should. Much of the salmon you see for sale has had coloring added, either directly to the meat or added to the fish food.

What to do? Do what I did at City Market in Glenwood Springs ” I politely told the store manager that until salmon was labeled “farmed” or “wild” I would not buy any salmon, period. It might be overkill, but don’t be surprised if you see me picketing grocery stores with a sign that says “Friends don’t let friends buy farmed salmon!”

Alan Czenkusch

Carbondale


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