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Farm Raised or Wild Salmon

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  • Pages: 10
  • Word count: 2496
  • Category: Farming

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  1. H n– There will be no healthy difference between those people who consume wild salmon and those who consume farm raised salmon.

    H A– There will be a significantly large difference in healthy status of people who consume the wild salmon and those who consume farm raised salmon.

  1. H n– There is no difference in prices between the wild salmon and farm raised salmon.

    H A– There is a high price difference between wild salmon and farm raised salmon.

  1. H n– There is no difference between the taste of wild salmon and farm raised salmon

    H A– There is a slight difference between the taste of wild salmon and farm raised salmon.

Problem Statement


            Fish forms an integral and central part of human diet. This is because fish and other allied aquatic organisms like shellfish contain high quality proteins, low saturated fats and omega- 3 fatty acids. Consumption of fish therefore has added benefits to man in retrospect to other sources of proteins like red meat which contain high contents of cholesterol and other unsaturated fatty acids. The health benefits of consuming fish are many and just to name a few they include preventing coronary heart diseases and arthritis but on the hand, the same fish contain highly toxic substances (Vliet & Katan, 1990). Anthropogenic activities have raised the amounts of substances that find their way into the aquatic systems and are consumed by marine organisms. These substances include heavy toxic metals like mercury and lead and chemical substances like Polysaturated Carbon biphenyls (PCBs) which have been banned for human consumption (Susan, & et al., 2006).

            Due to the raised levels of pollution in our aquatic system, a new form of aqua farming was started in order to reduce the levels of those contaminants in controlled conditions. This new system raised more health concerns and issues than it could deal with. The biggest debate currently going on is the issue of farm raised and wild salmon fish which forms a large share in the consumption of fish in the US. The debate is based on environmental and nutritional perspectives between the differently raised salmon fish (Nettleton, 2000).

Nutrition Perspective

            On the nutritional difference, the farm bred salmon are indeed fatter and they seem healthier but they contain an excessively high fat content of 30-35% by weight which is much higher compared to their wild counterparts that contain 20% lower fat content. Much of the fats in the farm raised salmon are the less usable omega 3 fats which beats the purpose for consumption of the salmon (Vliet & Katan, 1990). This situation arises from the difference in the lifestyles of the two environments. In the farm waters, fish are relatively inactive due to their confinement to a small space and therefore they do not burn a lot of their fats in movement. Feeding is done on a regular basis which means the fish know no lack and do not have to suffer the stress of lack or even looking for food. On the contrary, the wild salmon resides in high seas and ocean where life is survival for the fittest. Foraging for food is a daily hustle which involves long hours of traveling and burning of excess fats. In natural habitats there are also the dangers of predators which lark nearby and therefore to avoid capture and stay on alert requires burning of fats to provide that extra energy (George, & Bhopal, 1995).

            It is a common agreed fact that diseases and parasites exist in all ecosystems and afflict organisms in those ecosystems. Natural mechanisms of lessening the impacts have also evolved among the organisms in natural habitats and the big marine ecosystem makes the problem almost invisible and chances of transmission less likely due to vast areas of open seas. In aqua farms, salmons are vaccinated against diseases outbreaks as individual and then later pesticides and antibiotics are applied to ward off infections and pests. While the wild salmons have mechanisms to deal with pests and disease outbreak, farm bred salmon do not have and they depend on artificial input of additives into their feeds in order to survive the onslaught of epidemics (Hites, et al., 2004).

Unfortunately, these additives in the form of pesticides and antibiotics have a cumulative effect whereby they trigger a need to increase the dosage every time they are being used. Consumption of these antibiotics over along period of time leads to their accumulation in the fish fats and lipids. On the other hand, these fish form a part of an elaborate food chain which man is a partisan and therefore he will end up consuming the fish that has a high accumulation of antibiotics in its body. These antibiotics will be transferred to man by default and will in turn increase resistance of the body to most of life saving drugs at the same time weakening the natural defensive (immunity) mechanisms of the body. This has been a primary problem that has been associated with the consumption of farm raised salmon and therefore researchers have been not been advocating for the consumption of such fish (Krkosek, Lewis, & Morton, 2006).

            The concentration of harmful chemical substances and toxic metals tend to be higher in farm bred salmon as opposed to the wild type. A possible explanation for this is the space of the environment of the two habitats. In an aqua farm, the presence of any pollutant will be highly magnified because of the space and the high number of the fish that are present there.  Most of the chemical compounds that are found in farm raised include PCBs and Polybrominated diphenyl ether (PBDE). PBDE are highly carcinogenic substances that disrupt the endocrine system and release toxin to the reproductive system. Studies carried so far indicate that these compounds are frequently found in artificial aqua pools but with increase in pollution, they are finding their way to marine aquatic system and other ecosystems (Susan, & et al., 2006).

An interesting research on the levels of PBDE in fish and human in America and Europe has shown that the levels in Europe in the fish is at the same level as the amount in man whereas the levels of PBDE in US are higher in fish which shows that there is no regulation of usage of substances that produce PBDE in US.

            There is a difference between the colors of the wild and farm bred salmon and therefore all along their has been allegations that the farm raised salmon are injected or fed with chemical substances that provide canthaxanthin which is a synthetic pigment meant to impart the pink color associated with natural salmon (Krkosek, Lewis, & Morton, 2006). Pigmentation in organisms is controlled by carotenoids which are naturally found and wild fish can get them from pink krill. The chemical that is bought to provide pigmentation in farm bred salmon was banned in Britain after its use in lotions that prevented sun burn was linked to retinal damage by people who were using the chemical in pill taken to improve skin tanning. There is still a raging debate as to whether to ban the substance in US but no decision has been reached so far. The amazing thing is that, when buying the pigmentation compound for the fish, one chooses the extent of the pigmentation color which in turn is influenced by the amount of canthaxanthin present. This is not withstanding that there are several threshold levels that have been provided by FDA for save consumption of the compound. This then means that the amount of the chemical that the fish consumes is determined by the farmer and it can have a negative impact on the consumer of the fish (Susan, & et al., 2006).

Environmental Considerations

            Farm salmons have been associated with wiping out the populations of the wild salmons. This happens through lice that are predominantly found in adult fish spreading to the juveniles of the wild fish in the ocean. Salmon have this culture of spawning near the shores whereas they spend most of their lives offshore as adults and therefore when their eggs hatch on the shores of the sea, they come into contact with aqua farms that are found near the shores (Hites, et al., 2004). Due to the size and undeveloped immunity, these juveniles fall prey to the lice found in the adult salmon from the farm and they die. From researches done so far, it has been established that very few salmons survive to adulthood in the oceans due to predation on the eggs and the juvenile. When this factor is considered together with the deaths that occur from lice emanating from the farm salmons, then the population of the wild salmons is at risk of being wiped from existence (Krkosek, Lewis, & Morton, 2006).

            Aquaculture is also a threat to other marine life and organisms that try to prey on penned salmon. A lot of marine birds are snared annually by the nets that are put to protect the aquaculture sanctuaries. Other organisms that get it rough are the predatory organisms that prey on the penned salmon like sea lions and gulls that are shot to stop their erratic behaviors. In a natural set up, there should be a flow food in a food chain or food web and this cause a lot of imbalance in the marine organisms. The penned salmons are given a free hand to prey on other organisms like the migrating juveniles of the wild salmons and other migratory fish which causes serious imbalances. These penned fish also sometimes escape in large numbers to go and join their wild counterparts in the deep seas. This brings about serious competitions for food, habitats and breeding grounds (George, & Bhopal, 1995).

            Closely related to the threat of marine life is likely interbreeding of the farm bred and wild bred salmon which may lead to the loss and dilution of salmon gene. Marine ecologists fear that these invaders from the aquaculture may out-compete the pacific indigenous fish for habitat and food leading to the loss of species that have traditionally existed in the pacific. If the trend continues unabated, it may lead to a takeover by the salmon in the pacific which may alter the marine ecosystem and habitat. These fears arise from the fact that many of the salmon in aquaculture are genetically modified with some that can grow six times faster than normal salmon and therefore when these types (invasive salmon) escape into the seas they may take over and finish other competitors (Nettleton, 2000).

            Pollution is the other negative side of aquaculture which has to do with biodegradation of the environment. The feed consists of concentrates that are thrown in the nets and are supposed to dissolve in water but in most cases they do not. After the fish take their lot, the rest settles on the sea bed which becomes a pollutant to the water and other organisms. On top of the feed remains, the fish also excrete and since the fish have been concentrated together there is accumulation of the wastes beneath the nets where they form a rich breeding ground for bacteria, infections. A lot of primary production also tends to thrive beneath the aquacultures given the enrichment of water leading to depletions of oxygen and increasing of carbon dioxide which spells doom for aquatic organisms (Hites, et al., 2004).

            The pollution does not stop with the environment but also other marine organisms are impacted negatively by the pollution. The usage of antibiotics, vaccines, pesticides and the chemicals that change pigmentation always go to settle beneath the nets and is susceptible to consumption by other marine organisms. These chemicals interfere with the biological functions of those organisms and even kill others that are not accustomed to the chemicals. The most negative effect is the accumulation of the compounds in the marine organisms’ body and with time, they are consumed by man who suffers the effects of those chemical compounds to man (Susan, & et al., 2006).

            Aquaculture is also impacting negatively on small commercial fisheries that have been forced out of business due to availability of cheap farm bred salmon fish that are readily available. A lot of expenses are associated with sea fishing and therefore, there can not be a competition between the two firms. The flooding of fish from aquaculture is reducing the choice of fish consumers since deep sea fishing is being faced out slowly by slowly and in the end there will be only fish that has been sourced form aquacultures. This is tantamount to forcing the people to consume the fish that have been associated with a lot of misdemeanors.


            Fish consumption is an old culture that has been practiced by man for a long time. Salmon is one the most nutritive fish that is highly consumed by man and debate has risen concerning salmon that are bred in aquacultures. These fish from the aquaculture have been known to contain high content of chemical compounds that are harmful to human health. Apart from impacting negatively on human health, these fish contain fewer of the beneficial omega 3 fats that have been associated with reduction of coronary heart disease among other health problems found in man. On top on affecting man, the rearing of these fish affects the environment through pollution and harming the marine ecosystem and organisms. The consumption of fish from aquacultures is on the increase which should be discouraged and instead people should stick to the wild salmon that are found in high seas.


George, R. & Bhopal, R. (1995). Fat composition of free living and farmed sea species: implications for human diet and sea-farming techniques. Br. Food Journal. Vol. 97, pp.           19-22.

Hites, R. et al,. (2004). Global assessment of organic contaminants in farmed salmon. Science    journal, Vol. 9 (303), pp.226-9.

Krkosek, M., Lewis, M., & Morton, A. (2006). Epizootics of wild fish induced by farm fish.     Proc Natl Acad Sci, Vol, 17(42), pp.15506-10.

Nettleton, J. (2000). Fatty Acids in Cultivated and Wild Fish. Presented paper, International       Institute of Fisheries, Economics and Trade (IIFET), IIFET 2000 Conference:    Microbehavior and Macroresults. Oregon State University, Corvallis.

Susan, D. et al,. (2006). PCBs, PCDD/Fs, and Organochlorine Pesticides in Farmed Atlantic     Salmon from Maine, Eastern Canada, and Norway, and Wild Salmon from Alaska.       Environ. Sci. Technol., Vol. 40 (17), pp 5347–5354.

Van Vliet T. & Katan, M. (1990). Lower ratio of n-3 to n-6 fatty acids in cultured than wild fish,         Am. J. Clin. Nutr.Vol 51, pp.1-2.

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