If you recently ordered salmon off the menu of your favorite restaurant, or purchased it from your local grocery store, chances are it was farmed. According to “Salmon of the Americas, an organization of salmon-producing companies in Canada, Chile and the United States, 70 percent of the salmon produced in British Columbia and Washington comes from salmon farms. If it weren’t for these farms, we would not have the luxury and abundance of this delicious and healthy food available to us year round. Salmon farming represents one very important way to feed the world and people want to eat more salmon and seafood- more than can be caught.
Salmon farming began over 30 years ago and has become a huge industry. Experts say it’s the fastest growing segment of agriculture. Salmon farming plays an important role in the economies of many areas as well. Jobs and other economic benefits contribute to the value of salmon as much its role in good nutrition. Salmon is an oily fish rich in omega-3 fatty acids, a substance that almost certainly helps protect against heart disease and may also reduce the risk of cancer and Alzheimer's.
There is one species of Atlantic salmon and five species of Pacific. Atlantic salmon account for almost 95 percent of the farmed salmon produced, and most of them are farm-raised on the pacific coast. Pacific species account for all of the wild salmon caught in the Americas and some of them are also farm-raised. No wild Atlantic salmon are fished commercially in North America, as they are an endangered species. Atlantic salmon have become the species of choice to raise on farms because they are more adaptable to the farming techniques and make better use of feed so they produce more salmon with less feed.
Not everybody agrees however, that farmed salmon raised in net pens are healthy for the environment or for you to eat. Over the years, there have been numerous stories in the media that have pointed out the negatives of farm raised salmon. These arguments have ranged from wastes from salmon farms, the spreading of disease from farmed to wild fish, the negative impacts of farm raised fish escapes and interacting with native fish, and recently, the effects of farmed salmon consumption on human health. The latest issue that the media got there hands on and consequently got the public concerned, was a report that polychlorinated biphenyl’s (PCBs) were found in farmed salmon.
The source of PCB’s remains a puzzle; they are mixtures of up to 209 individual chlorinated compounds known as congeners. There are no known natural sources of PCBs according to the National Center for Environmental Health. Used as lubricants and coolants and banned in the United States in the late 1970’s, PCB compounds still remain in the environment. Today, PCB’s are found in the mud in Puget Sound and cycle themselves through worms that are eaten by fish and in turn are eaten by mammals such as orcas and humans. Fish and mammals can pass the...