Atlantic or Pacific? Know Where Your Salmon Is From!
Let's talk a little bit about my friend and yours, the Atlantic salmon. The Atlantic salmon, Latin name Salmo Salar, is undoubtedly the most popular choice when it comes to salmon species. It has a mild, punchy flavour that is great for pairing with a variety of sides, spices and preparations. Atlantic salmon can live up to 13 years and weight up to 46kg, although most market size fish come in between 3.6kg and 5.5kg.
Where Have All The Salmon Gone?
Atlantic salmon was heavily overfished in the 1980s to early 1990s resulting in a government moratorium on commercial fishing, starting in Newfoundland in 1992. By the year 2000 the last of the commercial fisheries in Quebec were shut down completing the closure of all eastern Canada commercial fisheries. Currently, the Government of Canada's Fisheries and Oceans Department has listed wild Atlantic salmon as "endangered". As a result, today any commercially available Atlantic salmon comes from salmon farms. There is a lot of mistrust and misinformation surrounding the farming of salmon and fish in general. Many farms are land locked and pipe in their water or artificially create the environmental conditions. Many farms use antibiotics, steroids and other additives including food colouring for optimal appearance. It is important to do your research when purchasing Atlantic salmon in order to make sure you are choosing the most responsible of the farms.
Where Does the Smoke Bloke Source its Salmon?
The farm we work with is a 3 star (highest rating) BAP certified sea farm off the coasts of Newfoundland and New Brunswick, which was the first operation to achieve the maximum level of stars in North America. They conduct themselves in an ethical and sustainable manner, which is how they achieved their 3 star rating. They also use the lowest stocking densities in the world which is better for the salmon and the environment. Their salmon are net protein producers, which means the fish produce more protein than is consumed by fish feed. Although there are still inherent risks with farmed salmon which include disease, pollution, and risk to natural populations from any escaped salmon, these can be kept to a minimum by choosing a responsible supplier.
Why Not Pacific Salmon?
Another option for salmon is one of the other Pacific salmon species such as King, Coho, Chum, etc. These however are not without risk either. As a result of the Fukushima nuclear disaster in March of 2011, large volumes of irradiated water has escaped into the Pacific Ocean at an estimated rate of up to 300-450 tonnes per day, the effects of which are still not fully known. There are varying and contradicting reports that range from stating that there is a barely detectable amount of radiation in the Pacific, all the way up to suggestions that our days of eating pacific seafood are over. Since we don’t have a full and accurate report just yet as to the full scale of the aftermath of the Fukushima disaster, we have chosen not to risk using Pacific Salmon species until we know the full story.
In May 2013, scientists collected plankton samples from 10 different points in the Pacific ocean and found that the radiation in the plankton works its way up the food chain through a cumulative effect. It goes from plankton to krill to fish and eventually ends up in our bodies.
There is a lot of controversial information out there. Because the media is reluctant to cause public panic and destroy the businesses of marine food supply in the Pacific, the ramifications of eating Pascific seafood has not been made as public as it should be. You need to dig deep to find information on this topic. For an interesting article on this matter, click here.
What is the lesson?
We all have a responsibility to help protect our plant's marine species, and not just our beloved Atlantic salmon. We must do this so that we can enjoy them (whether for food or otherwise) for generations to come.