Two reports from the Coastal Alliance for Aquaculture Reform (CAAR), Vancouver, Canada about the fish farm industry and coast communities in British Columbia.
It is anyway to be underlined that this is what happens in the United States; in Europe, the laws and restrictions about fish farming and human health preservation could be different.
Salmon Farming and Human Health
A single serving of most seafood, including wild or farmed salmon, provides the daily requirement of healthy Omega 3 - an essential fatty acid with many health benefits. However, wild fish have a higher Omega 3 to Omega 6 ratio than farmed salmon which is best for your diet and overall health.
Farmed Atlantic salmon also contain higher levels of unhealthy saturated fats than wild coho, sockeye, steelhead pink and chum salmon. In addition, research indicates farmed salmon have up to 10 times more PCBs and dioxins than wild salmon. According to a comprehensive study published in the respected journal Science, in most cases, consuming more than one serving of farmed salmon per month could pose unacceptable cancer risks.
A study released August 10 2004 in the journal Environmental Science & Technology found much higher levels of some chemical flame retardants in farmed salmon compared to most wild salmon. The study concluded that, in spite of the heart healthy benefits of omega-3 fatty acids in all salmon, frequent consumption of farmed salmon is more likely than wild to boost levels of chemicals that researchers have found to be increasing rapidly in people's bodies.
The food given to farmed salmon does not contain the natural sources of color and as a result, their flesh is an unappetizing gray color. To make their product more marketable, fish farm companies choose what color they want their salmon from the SalmoFan. Chemical additives are then added to the fish feed.
Farmed Atlantic salmon contain 200 per cent more unhealthy, saturated fat than wild pacific pink or chum salmon. This has led some health professionals to question the nutritional value of farmed salmon.
In a letter urging retailers to stop selling farmed salmon to customers, Warren Bell MD, president of the Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment (CAPE) writes, "Not only is the fat content of farmed salmon higher than that of wild salmon but the composition of farmed salmon fat is also less healthy than that of wild salmon fat." He also writes that, "Another issue of concern to consumers is the fact that the monitoring of residues of antibiotics and other drugs in farmed salmon is inadequate."
Antibiotics & Biocides
Disease and parasites are frequent occurrences on salmon farms. Farmers attempt to control these problems by using powerful drugs including antibiotics and biocides. Farmed salmon are fed more antibiotics per pound, than any other livestock in North America.
Excess drugs make their way along the food chain. Research suggests that between 74-100 per cent of wild fish caught near farms contain antibiotics in their flesh. Escaped fish caught in a Broughton Archipelago stream were found carrying bacteria known to cause a range of human maladies and these bacteria were resistant to 10 different antibiotics. Excessive use of antibiotics has already led to the development of antibiotic resistant "super-bugs".
Salmon Farming and the Coastal Economy
As result of farm salmon flooding the market, the price of wild salmon has dropped dramatically. This means that fishermen earn less and local economies suffer.
Small coastal fishing communities up and down the coast of BC used to thrive and prosper. Now many of them have literally hung their nets out to dry. Those in favor of fish farms argue that fish farms benefit the economy because they provide an alternative to the forestry and fishing industries. However as the industry moves to a more mechanized system, there are fewer jobs available on the farms. There are employment opportunities in the processing facilities but if industry switched to safer technology, we could continue to have the employment benefits of aquaculture ( without compromising the employment opportunities of the commercial fishing industry.)
The tourism industry is a multi-billion dollar operation in BC and marine tourism is its fastest growing sector. This industry provides jobs and revenue to coastal communities. Eco-tourism can be designed and managed in careful ways to ensure long-term sustainability. But the presence of industrial fish farms in beautiful areas such as Clayoquot Sound and the Broughton Archipelago disrupts the pristine wilderness that people come from around the world to see. Furthermore, a loss of wild salmon could seriously affect the recreational fishing industry, which represents a large portion of BC's coastal tourism.
"Fish farms are not compatible with Clayoquot Sound's number one industry wilderness tourism. The farms are industrial sites noisy, sprawling, visually intrusive, and polluting. This makes for a very unpleasant encounter during a backcountry trip even without knowledge of the ecological threats they pose."
Dan Lewis & Bonny Glambeck,
Rainforest Kayak Adventures, Tofino, BC
As the salmon farming industry moves to a more mechanized system, fewer and fewer jobs are available on the farms. There are jobs offered in the processing facilities however these jobs would remain even if industry switched to safer technology.
Font: Coastal Alliance for Aquaculture Reform (CAAR), Vancouver, Canada - www.farmedanddangerous.org