What’s the Difference among Wild, Farmed or Hybrid Salmon?

What’s the Difference among Wild, Farmed or Hybrid Salmon?

The common knowledge is that fish either come from the farm or from the wild. However, you should know that about half of the salmon supply comes from the two sources combined.

What Kind of Salmon Do You Like – Wild or Farmed?

Smell something fishy at your local market? Are you concerned about the source of your fish? Do you prefer to buy the more expensive “wild” fish? Or farmed fish is okay?

They’re Actually Hybrids

The National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis at Santa Barbara’s University of California said that the fish labeled wild might not be as it actually claims to be. The journal Marine Policy published an article that says fish may be a combination of wild caught as well as farm-raised.

According to researchers, the Alaskan salmon sold in the market come with the label “all wild, never farmed,” but 40 percent of these products actually came from the fish hatcheries. Because of this practice by seafood producers, researchers are suggesting to use the label “hybrids” instead of “wild” to let consumers know what they are actually buying.

When catching fish, fisheries traditionally mingle with the wild fish. But with farm-raised fish, the fish’ entire life cycle is controlled, from the egg stage to the harvesting stage. Many consumers are not aware that seafood and shellfish producers use a combination of the mentioned techniques, especially with the increase in the demand for fish.

What is the Problem with Farmed Salmon?

Most of the consumers who are health conscious prefer to buy wild salmon, because there is a study that says farm-raised fish have polychlorinated biphenyls or PCBs in them. PCBs are synthetic chemicals that are used in making plastics, paints and other products, which somehow get mixed into farm-feeds. A study conducted in 2004 found that the PCB concentration of farmed fish is 8 times higher. This finding alarmed the health community although other studies showed there is more benefits than harm when eating omega-3-rich farmed fish contaminated with PCB.

The same evaluation test has not been done on hybrid fish.

Some people are in favor of or against farm-raised salmon. The fishing industry says that the market demand for fish is so big that a combination of fishing techniques is warranted. From the consumer’s viewpoint, what is important is transparency and having the right information.

Having enough fish supply is a critical issue in global food security. With the changes that are happening in the fishing industry, there is a need to update data as well to make it more accurate. The old system of classifying fish into farmed and fished must be replaced with a farmed, fished and hybrid classification.

Photo credits: Pacific salmon via Wikimedia Commons, Public Domain.

Categories: Nutrition
Tags: fish