We have all been sold salmon under the guise that it is good for us and sold farmed salmon under the guise that it is more sustainable.
Whilst wild salmon like other wild fish has its benefits the same cannot be said for farmed salmon.
In 2017 there were record levels of mortality (25,000 tonnes) equalling 15-20 million farmed salmon on a farm in Scotland. This is a mortality rate of over 26%.
If we were throwing away 25% of the cows we raised due to disease would we find this acceptable? Absolutely not. Suffering is suffering and no animal should have to endure it at the hands of humans.
What is causing these deaths?
The death rate is due to a host of diseases, which stem from overcrowded cages, stress and an unnatural diet.
A few but by no means a complete list from Scottish salmon watch are:
Amoebic gill disease, anaemia, bacterial kidney disease, bacterial skin ulceration, cardiomyopathy syndrome, Chlamydia, complex gill issues, dermaocystidium spp. Enteric redmouth disease, epitheliocystis, exophiala, fungus, lesions, lice infestaton, haemorrhagic smolt syndrome.
(NOTE: These diseases are now decimating out our wild salmon population as they pick them up on their migratory run.)
Tests on supermarket salmon have shown that the fish we eat have these diseases but we would never know as by the time you see your salmon fillet as deformities have been cut away and the fillets are wrapped in plastic.
Whilst the simple equation of feeding wild fish to farmed fish still feels unsustainable for an ocean running out of fish there are other elements of the feed to consider.
In addition to the wild fish, the pellets are made with grains. Studies show pesticide residues in the grains along with antibiotics used to keep the diseases they get in their cages at bay end up in the large fat deposits in salmon making them “the most toxic food in the world”.
What is worrying is a huge amount of farmed salmon is eaten as sushi, which as we know is not even cooked!
For too long we have looked at the financial rewards of farming fish without considering our moral obligations.
Growing up I was always told fish don’t feel pain, the CIWF initiative Rethink Fish have done studies that show this is not the case and they suffer in the same way we do
“Most fish have highly developed senses with excellent taste, smell, hearing and colour vision 1. Until fairly recently, many people didn’t realise that fish were sentient or feel pain, and the mental abilities of fish were given limited attention by the scientific community”
Fish are living, breathing creatures and just as pain helps us navigate our way through life and protect us it natural that it should be the same for other mammals.
These beautiful fish need our help more than ever if we are o protect our wild populations of salmon, which are slowly becoming decimated from diseased farm fish escaping.
This is a huge topic, which is very close to my heart.
See links below for further reading and join us later in the year for a documentary screening of a film that highlights this issue in Bridport.
Give the fish a voice. Boycott farmed fish!