Salmon, one of the most consumed fish in the world, is now industrially farmed. And it is not without consequences.
1. Different species of salmon
The term “salmon” is a colloquial name that refers to fish belonging to the salmon family. It is divided into several genera including Oncorhynchus and Salmo. There are eight species of salmon in the genus Oncorhynchus that live in the North Pacific and one species in the genus Salmo in the North Atlantic.
The best known species are Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar), Coho salmon (Oncorhynchus kisutch), King salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha), Japanese salmon (Oncorhynchus masou masou), Pacific salmon (Oncorhynchus keta) and Rose (Oncorhynchus gorbuscha).
Note that there are very few wild salmon left in France. It is an Atlantic salmon that is particularly widespread in Allier, Loire and Brittany.
2. What is the salmon lifestyle?
Most salmon species are migratory. They are born in fresh water before reaching the sea, where they stay for about one to three years before returning to the river where they were born. Their purpose is spawning, that is, reproduction.Salmon usually die after spawning, but some species may go through another spawning season.
In addition, these fish must overcome many obstacles to reach their native river. To do this, they have to travel thousands of kilometers, swim against the current, cross rivers and meter-high waterfalls and even overcome dams. Don’t forget polluted water, drought (salmon burned alive in the US) or frolicking predators like bears.
3. Salmon farms convicted
Wild salmon populations are declining rapidly worldwide.In contrast, farmed salmon reproduce. And it’s not safe. During extreme weather events, thousands of farmed salmon (hundreds of thousands in some cases) can escape from fish farms. They therefore compete with local fauna and may mate with wild salmon, form genetic crosses, or infect native individuals with disease.
Because farmed salmon very often live in poor conditions, confined in underwater cages, stuffed with antibiotics and infested with parasites such as sea lice.Diseases transmitted to wild salmon.
Fish farms are also criticized for having a negative impact on the environment. The chemicals used to treat the salmon or the silt deposits that form on the seabed cause areas beneath the fish cages to be abandoned by wildlife.
In addition, farmed salmon are fed with other fish. For example, 1 kg of farmed salmon is fed with 4 kg of small wild fish.Wild fish are then caught to feed farmed salmon, plundering the oceans and robbing local people of their resources.
It should be noted that there is an intensive aquaculture project in Boulogne-sur-Mer in the Pas-de-Calais. The aim is to produce around two million salmon a year from 2024.
4. Can we still eat salmon?
That is the question!On the one hand there is farmed salmon, much fatter and non-organic, tested with antibiotics and pesticides. Without forgetting the dyes to make the pulp more orange.
On the other hand, there is wild salmon. It also has disadvantages, being more heavily contaminated with heavy metals (like mercury) than its farm cousin. The Alaskan salmon is considered the least polluted because the ocean it lives in is the least polluted.
In any case, ANSES (National Agency for Food Safety) recommends eating salmon only twice a week. It is also worth choosing salmon with a label such as MSC or Sustainable Fishing.