Thursday, October 19, 2006

Go Fish, Please

Just when you thought something was safe to eat out there, here I come along with another warning about something very problematic that most people never regard. The problem is factory fish also known as farmed fish.

Fishing is a dangerous industry where it isn’t uncommon to hear news that several lives are lost in the cold pacific when a boat goes down. It happens all too often. The solution to this danger and loss of life is set up net pens and cages where fish can be grown and controlled and harvested in relative safety. Farming makes salmon cheap and plentiful. It sounds like a good idea, but in reality it is something that is not only an environmental disaster on many levels, but it is dangerous to human health as well.

When fish are kept and fed in net pens there will be nearly 40,000 fish in a 90 X 90 X 90 foot pen. In this concentrated state, sea lice are passed from fish to fish. The fish waste becomes concentrated falling to the sea floor in like a toxic mat that kills crabs and shellfish. The surrounding water is akin to a raw sewage dump, with the fish ingesting large amounts of their own waste which ends up back in their tissue that people eat.

Other than fecal waste there is also a cocktail of noxious substances such as contaminated feed, toxic chemicals and artificial colorings. Chemicals used on salmon farms include anti-parasitics to kill sea lice, antifoulants to kill fouling organisms such as barnacles and mussels on the nets, antibiotics to treat infectious diseases and artificial colorings to dye the flesh of the farmed salmon pink.

Farmed salmon also escape from time to time, polluting the gene pool of the wild salmon by interbreeding with them. They spread diseases that the Pacific salmon have no defense against. A report published in 2003 by the Royal Society of London proved conclusively that repeated escapes from salmon farms could lead to extinctions in wild salmon populations. Mass escapes of alien Atlantics into the Pacific waters of British Columbia are now so common that Atlantic salmon have been found breeding in rivers and streams across Canada and have been caught as far away as Alaska.

There is a difference in the food quality of a natural wild salmon as opposed to farmed salmon. In their natural state, wild salmon eat algae, which are rich in healthy omega-3 fats, or "good" fats. When we eat the fish, we, in turn, consume those healthy fats. Wild salmon also swim freely so they're lean.
Farmed fish on the other hand have high levels of PCBs and other toxins and high levels of fat of the non omega-3 variety.

According to the USDA Nutrient Database, this is how the two types of fish compare:
Farm-Raised vs. Wild Salmon, 8-ounce Serving
Calories: 466 farm-raised; 413 wild
Total Fat: 28 grams farm-raised; 18.5 grams wild
Saturated Fat: 5.72 grams farm-raised; 2.84 grams wild
Protein: 50 grams farm-raised; 57.6 grams wild

When you purchase seafood, a lower price should speak volumes to you as a consumer. Look for packaging that assures you the fish is wild. Better yet buy it right off the boat if you have the opportunity. The only things possibly worse than factory fish, is supporting the industry and eating their toxic products.


Blogger RobbKidd said...

In addition to the toxicity of farmed raised fish there are extremely high levels of mercury in all fish, whether farmed raised or wild. Statistics show that one and six Americans have toxic levels of mercury in their bodies. Mercury poisoning has been attributed to many of the birth defects and learning disabilities of today’s youth. Sources of mercury are from coal producing plants and other industries. While we have had initiatives like the “Clean Skies Act” that sound promising, actually mercury pollution has increased. The polluters have taken over Washington and have restructured legislation to benefit their needs. A good resource for mercury contamination is .


6:53 AM  
Anonymous Thartill said...

Well it's either farm fish or no fish because there isn't enough wild to go around...

A question for you, are hatchery fish "wild"? Because most wild fish we eat were raised in a hatchery for the first part of their life.

BTW if there were no farm fish, wild salmon would be over 20 bucks a pound, since 45% of the salmon sold is farmed.

9:03 AM  
Blogger The Guy Who Writes This said...

I stopped fishing when it became law that I could only keep fin clipped fish. I stopped eating salmonoids all together. It is generally known that salmonoid grown in hatcheries are far less healthy than wild stock, and their poor genetics is now polluting the wild gene pool as well. We can expect salmon stock health to continue its decline. This is because much of the necessary natural selection is being abandoned. They squeeze out eggs and sperm from superior and inferior fish together, raise them equally and set them loose on the world where they have outgrown some of the challenges that would have killed inferior stock in nature.

Why anyone would want to place toxic fish meat (from fish farms) in their mouths is beyond me. Farmed fish live in their own waste, and are fed a steady diet of medications and chemicals. So if cost is the reason to buy inferior food, you will be able to pay for some pretty spendy cancer treatments with the savings form your food budget.

9:46 AM  
Blogger Zoe said...

I'm so glad I don't like fish, any seafood for that matter.

10:29 AM  
Anonymous THartill said...

are fed a steady diet of medications and chemicals

If you want to see the medications and chemicals being made, all you have to do is take a trip to Warrenton. They feed almost half of all Canadian farm fish with their pellets...pellets made from wild stock fish delivered to Lower Columbia canneries.

So I guess in a twisted sort of way, you are actually calling local wild caught fish "medications and chemicals".

11:15 AM  
Blogger The Guy Who Writes This said...

I don't kn ow if they are producing fish food or fish medicine there. What I was gettin at was in the 4th paragraph and I will quote:

"There is also a cocktail of noxious substances such as contaminated feed, toxic chemicals and artificial colorings. Chemicals used on salmon farms include anti-parasitics to kill sea lice, antifoulants to kill fouling organisms such as barnacles and mussels on the nets, antibiotics to treat infectious diseases and artificial colorings to dye the flesh of the farmed salmon pink."

If I recall you once mentioned that you are in the seafood industry. If fish are your business, don't you think could get more business by doing the value added benefit of claiming that none of your product comes from fish farms?

11:43 AM  
Blogger The Guy Who Writes This said...

And Zoe, aren't you about as far as one can get from being near a coast line? By the time sea food gets to you it would be past its prime, so it is better you don't like it because if you did you would be terrably disappointed by the time it got to you.

12:27 PM  
Blogger The Scuba Skipper said...

BTW if there were no farm fish, wild salmon would be over 20 bucks a pound, since 45% of the salmon sold is farmed.
Not only would the Salmon be this much, it'd be extinct or approaching extinction anyway. Our oceans would be so over fished.
~The Scuba Skipper

12:54 PM  
Blogger The Guy Who Writes This said...

That's nature's way of telling us to fish for something else isn't it. What we will be left with now is an inferior piece of junk Monsanto Franken fish. But I am enjoying the debate.

1:07 PM  
Anonymous THartill said...

Well here is my angle.

Yes I am in the fish business, but without farmfish there would be no smoked salmon. Why? Because nobody could afford to do it. We lose about 60% of the fish weight when we smoke it. We can barely
come out ahead now and we charge an arm and a leg for the product.

Although we try to buy as much as we can from wild stock, we do use farm fish for part of the year for one of our products because you need fresh fish to have it come out right. We can only get fresh wild salmon for half the year.

Other farm products you might not know about:


If you buy any of these, you are buying a farmed product, so watch out!

If we all got our information from the Environmental Working Group we wouldn't be able to eat anything.

1:12 PM  
Anonymous Moosehead said...

One of my earliest memories is jumping into the family sedan with my parents and heading to a place on the shore fittingly called Salmon Beach. The indelible image of the inshore fishermen hauling in their catch with the sun glinting off the salmon's body as it was pulled into the skiff is etched into my mind along with the taste of wild Atlantic salmon prepared with smashed potatoes and a great egg sauce.
On the Atlantic coast, the wild salmon fishery is long gone mostly as a result of overfishing by factory boats. The only people now that are allowed to fish the salmon are the natives and for all intents and purposes, they are exploiting it with nets strung across the great salmon rivers like the Restigouche (president Ford's favorite), the Miramichi (Ted Williams favorite) and the Nepisiguit (Moosehead's favorite). You can only keep the grisles now and they will never compare to the females of my youth. subject.
Unless you want to buy a salmon from a native entrepreneur and risk losing your car and house...Sad...Especially for kids who will probably never have the memory...well... maybe President Ford's kids. Hey! Great idea! Maybe we can get Bush to visit and fish and then we Canadians can confiscate the White House before Con comes back from Korea and way before Rummy has a clue!

Thartill - I didn't know you could smoke salmon...must be hard to roll or light. When I smoke, I seem to gain weight!

2:17 PM  
Blogger The Guy Who Writes This said...

Our oceans are over fished and this is driving people out of business every day. I don't see it getting any better. I'm sure your business finds more challenges every year. Fish farming may keep you afloat in the short term, but what happens to your business when the product becomes unsafe for human consumption?

I came across this same situation with the agricultural products I produce, and I decided to stop using all chemicals and medications about five years ago, which meant I had to retool everything from the ground up. It took me close to two years to recap my losses, but now I sell my main product for two times the price that you would pay for it in stores. My customers don't bat an eye at the price. They know they are getting the purest product possible. They can also taste the difference. It reminds them of when their grandfathers produced the same quality product. I have no fear that something I sell will ever come back to bite me in the ass. I sell my entire line every year, never fail. My customers have now resorted to advanced orders and hording.

2:27 PM  
Blogger The Guy Who Writes This said...

Moosehead, maybe you should change your name to Pothead. LOL

2:31 PM  
Anonymous Moosehead said...

Hell - I just talk the talk longer,well hardly no longer,walk the walk. As an aside, hope you will not fall prey to the LOL, LMAO etc etc crowd. It just keeps me going back to the Urban Dic for the newest one and IMHO is for lack of a better word ADWOEY

2:43 PM  
Blogger The Guy Who Writes This said...

Next time you are there check out
Making Muffins"

Sorry about the LOL, I got that from Syd who uses that right afer she calls me an asshole. Somehow it feels better being called an asshole when there is a LOL after it. Crafty woman, she is.

4:13 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

When wild salmon are outlawed only outlaws will have wild salmon.

3:08 AM  
Blogger The Guy Who Writes This said...

Too funny...

That sort of thing would be an open season on sealions.

9:24 AM  
Blogger Syd said...

Excellent article, Guy. I always try to buy wild fish. I often wonder if the claims can be trusted though.

You think they do this same thing in the warm waters of the Gulf?

8:17 PM  
Blogger The Guy Who Writes This said...

I'd avoid the catfish if I were you. You should ask your fish monger, that is if you trust their honesty. Price is often a good indicator. Maybe an internet search on Gulf fish farms may be the next step.

9:52 PM  
Anonymous Thartill said...

Yep, everyone needs a local fish monger, you never know when your going to need some trusty fish advice....

I believe that catfish is #1 in the U.S. when it comes to the amount consumed.

Head on over to the

11:16 PM  
Anonymous Thartill said...


11:18 PM  
Blogger The Guy Who Writes This said...

Monger is a proper term, correct? That's the way seafood dealers refered to them selves when I was a kid. Also, arent't they generally honest in regards to what they sell?

5:52 AM  
Blogger Syd said...

Yes, Monger is correct. Sounds way better than fish butcher, don't you think?

8:35 AM  

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