It’s hard to overstate the case against farm-raised seafood, so we applaud Target’s recent decision to stop selling factory-fished salmon in its stores. The mass merchandiser has already, “eliminated all farmed salmon from its fresh, frozen and smoked seafood sections at stores nationwide,” replacing it with wild-caught Alaskan fish. By the end of the year, all Target-sold sushi will follow suit.
If you’re wondering what’s wrong with “aquaculture,” here’s a short list, courtesy of the Pure Salmon Campaign. Almost all these problems apply to farm-raised trout, catfish, tilapia, shrimp, etc. as well.
- The waste from millions of captive fish empties directly into the ocean, polluting the water with untreated sewage, toxic chemicals, and other wastes.
- Approximately three million genetically identical salmon escape from their pens each year, interbreeding with, and often out-competing populations of genetically superior wild salmon.
- Captive farmed salmon make ideal hosts for highly contagious diseases and parasites; escapees spread them to wild fish.
- As they grow, carnivorous and voracious farmed salmon need increasing amounts of wildcaught fish for food, thus competing directly with humans and fish species for this valuable yet diminishing resource. Currently, it takes the equivalent of three pounds of fish from the world’s oceans to make one pound of farmed salmon.
- Farmed salmon contains such high concentrations of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and other dangerous contaminants that scientists advise people to drastically restrict their monthly intake of farmed fish.
- Artificial coloring, toxic by-products, antibiotics and other drugs, and cancer-causing contaminants are present to various degrees in farmed salmon tissue, often at levels that can adversely affect human health.
And as with other types of factory farming, fish are crammed into unnaturally small spaces.
…farmed fish are kept in concentrations never seen in the wild (e.g. 50,000 fish in a 2-acre (8,100 m2) area) with each fish occupying less room than the average bathtub. This can cause several forms of pollution. Packed tightly, fish rub against each other and the sides of their cages, damaging their fins and tails and becoming sickened with various diseases and infections. This also causes stress.
What to do to protect the “crop” and rush them to market sooner? Dowse them with massive quantities of antibiotics and hormones, of course! Even so, about 30 percent won’t survive all this misery.
Hey, anybody hungry? Let’s be sure to not have some farm-raised seafood for dinner.