What’s the first thing that comes to your mind when you hear the word salmon?
For decades, there have been debates on whether wild caught or farm raised salmon is better, and at least for me, that’s definitely not one of the first few things I would think of when it comes to salmon.
As suggested by the terms, wild caught salmon is fished directly from their natural environment (the ocean), while farm raised salmon is raised in farms (duh)…
Wild salmon usually appear darker in colour with a more saturated orange hue. Since these salmon are caught directly from the ocean, they would have much more exercise from cruising the seas than those that are raised in farms, hence they have less of those white fatty marbling on their fillet (source). Some people prefer wild caught salmon as they are known to have a fresher-salmony-taste-of-the-wild kind of flavour (source). However, we all know the environmental strains that fishing has on the ocean – depleting fish stocks and devastation to the marine ecosystem (you can check out Vera’s blog about this), which is why wild caught salmon (or fish in general) is perceived as a less sustainable option and conservationists are more inclined to avoid it.
They say that the grass is always greener on the other side, unfortunately….
Not so for farm raised salmon.
Most people perceive farm raised salmon as a far more sustainable option as compared to wild caught salmon, without considering that there are downsides to the former as well. Lead fishery experts express concern when it comes to farming up the food web as they require much more resources which may lead to inefficient usage of valuable resources.
Corey Peet, an ecologist studying the impacts of aquaculture on the marine ecosystem remarked, “Natural food webs take the shape of a pyramid. At the bottom of the pyramid lies an abundance of organisms that gain their energy directly from the sun or chemical processes. The next step up the pyramid are the slightly less abundant organisms, mostly herbivores, which feed on those below them. With each step up the pyramid, only 10 per cent of the energy is passed on to the next step, as 90 percent of energy is lost to heat. Therefore, fewer organisms can be supported as you step up the pyramid, leaving only a few predatory species at the apex. There is a reason why we only see a few carnivores in the wild; nature only has so much energy to go around. Thus, when we consider the farming of salmon against the fundamental basics of ecology, it makes no sense to claim that this practice is sustainable.” (source). Moreover, there are also other risks which aquaculture poses on the marine environment which I mentioned in my previous blog post.
So, the big question is…. Which is the ‘right’ choice?
To be completely honest, I don’t think there is a concrete black and white answer to this (I mean that’s why it’s been debated for so long right?). It all boils down to making your own conscious decision to try and pick the lesser of two evils.
Are you #TeamWild or #TeamFarmed?