Farming fish sounded like a good idea. It is sort of the hatchery model, but on a larger scale. And it attempts to create the whole life cycle in one place. But fish farming is delivering more bad news than good, more bad product than good.
If you’ve been following food news, you are aware that infectious salmon anemia has destroyed farm-raised salmon in Chile. The same problem has occurred in British Columbia, Norway, Maine and New Brunswick, Canada.
In the simplest sense, these pitfalls represent another aspect of why consumers want to know more about where their food comes from. In a scientific sense, the problem resembles the dangerous side effects of industrial agriculture. Like the hog and cattle production centers of the Midwest, Chile’s salmon farms were on a massive scale, and antibiotics were used too freely. When problems developed, farming was moved further out, effectively polluting more pristine waters and exporting a problem, rather than containing or eliminating it.
Dr. Ian Fleming gave an Astoria audience a preview of this problem some five years ago during his presentation at the Columbia Forum. Then on the faculty of the OSU Marine Sciences Center in Newport, Dr. Fleming talked about his research on escapes from Norway’s extensive system of salmon pens. The implication of Fleming’s talk was to be wary of farmed salmon.
The New York Times recently wrote that, "Salmon farming everywhere has repeated too many of the mistakes of industrial farming – including the shrinking of genetic diversity, a disregard for conservation, and the global spread of intensive farming methods before their consequences are completely understood."