By Grant Warkentin, Communications Officer, Mainstream Canada.
2013-10-17: By ignoring the issue of salmon ranching, Oceana shows that not only is the organization stuck in the past, but it is also unscientific and ignorant, content to preach rather than to educate the public.
“Comparing the feed ratios of farmed salmon to wild salmon is like comparing apples to oranges, or jack mackerel to wild salmon. It doesn’t make sense. To see the full picture, you need to compare the effect of both animals on wild fisheries and oceans,” he writes.
That’s true, Andy. You do need to compare the effect of both animals on wild fisheries and oceans. And the criticisms you throw at farmed salmon for feed consumption must also be applied to wild Alaskan salmon.
That’s because the wild Alaska salmon Andy likes to promote eat the same fish feed that farmed fish eat.
Yep. Wild salmon DO eat pellets.
Every year Alaska releases 1.5 billion hatchery-raised salmon into the wild as part of the state’s “ocean ranching” program. Those fish eat an enormous amount of fish feed in the hatcheries (and ocean pens) before they are released.
Wild salmon from Alaska use nearly eight times more fish feed than BC farmed salmon
And when you compare the amount of wild fish being ground up to feed wild salmon in Alaska hatcheries to the amount for BC salmon farms, it is clear that wild Alaskan salmon, not farmed salmon, pose the greatest threat to the forage fish used to make fish meal and fish oil.
Environmental groups believe Alaska’s ocean ranching practices pose other threats to the truly wild salmon. Oceana has spent a great deal of time and money condemning tuna ranching, but is strangely silent about the threats posed by the ranched “wild” Alaska salmon Sharpless loves to promote.
Why is that?
By ignoring the issue of salmon ranching, Oceana shows that not only is the organization stuck in the past, but it is also unscientific and ignorant, content to preach rather than to educate the public.
We recently blogged about Oceana being stuck in the past after reading their blog post in response to articles in the Washington Post. Oceana’s blog generated a lively discussion on their page, we captured a few of the posted comments for your interest:
Dallas Weaver:As I just sat through yet another scientific presentation about alternative proteins in salmonid diets, where they are making pure “vegan” diets for fully carnivorous species of fish ( http://www.capitalpress.com/co… or ck research projects depts.washington.edu/wracuw/), it is obvious that the only reason fish meal is used in fish feeds is that other animals feed producers prefer that their chickens and pigs don’t taste like fish so they bid up the prices of alternative proteins. That makes fish meal relatively less expensive than soy protein concentrate, corn gluten meal, spirulina, etc. and fish tasting like fish is OK in the market.
Oceana actually knows this, but continues in their scientifically and economically silly, but emotionally effective lie that the connection between fish meal and aquaculture is something more than a minor cost minimization link. If someone wanted to eat Jack Mackerel, he could easily outbid fish meal producers, but no one does. Someone could even eat heads and frames from fish processors that now goes into fish meal production.
Oceana knows all this reality, but continues to successfully spread propaganda that has killed aquaculture growth in the US. The result being the rest of the world is increasing aquaculture (9%/yr FAO) and exporting the products to the US. We import about 90% of our seafood, most of which is from aquaculture outside the US. This represents a 200,000+ jobs lost in the US because of Oceana’s success in spreading misinformation. The sales per man year and profits per man year in Norway salmon farms are similar to heavy manufacturing, so these fish farms produce well paying middle class jobs — not farm labor harvesting type jobs.
Bethmann: Farmed salmon is not a sustainable choice? It’s the ONLY sustainable choice for the future. Even as a liberal, I find these polarizing articles simply unbalanced and ultimately untrue. How do you think we’re going to feed the world on the limited supply of fish in our dirty oceans? Farming is being done intelligently and well all over the world. It’s time to stand behind the new way we’ll feed people on our planet instead of disparaging it wholeheartedly.
Cliff_Goudey: Confusion reigns at Oceana!
The inconsistencies of this Oceana news feed are obvious in that farmed salmon are eating the same smaller fish as wild salmon. What the article didn’t say is that while farmed salmon has a feed conversion ration of 3:1 to 1:1, wild salmon suffers with a 10:1 feed conversion ratio or worse. That’s because wild salmon must chase it’s next meal and because so many are lost to natural predation during their adventures in the ocean.
Because of this efficiency, eating farmed salmon helps preserve feed-fish stocks and makes better use of the ocean’s resources. But eat them both, they are healthy sources of protein, something Oceana fails to understand.
Cliff_Goudey: Guest, you wrote, “That does not make any sense at all. I don’t think you know how ratios and feed conversion works.” But I do and it makes perfect sense. Farmed salmon never have to chase down their next meal or move on to another part of the after the feed fish have been decimated. Instead, food hand delivered to a farmed salmon, a fish that is never chased and killed by another predator or caught and discarded dead as someone’s bycatch.
“Plus, you need to cite sources for your “facts.”
No I don’t. Not until Oceana cites their sources. Try reading up on “trophic-level conversion efficiencies.”
John: Sounds like fear mongering. Personally, I’ll just eat the farm salmon to save the wild salmon and the let them free to maraud and kill other fish.
Callander McDowell caroler:Inter-breeding – farmed salmon are no different to wild salmon. The differences that are identified are due to markers not genetic code.
The myth of Alaskan wild salmon continues… Many wild Alaskan salmon are hatchery reared in exactly the same way as farmed salmon – fed the same fishmeal rich feeds and treated in exactly the same way. The difference is that when they are large enough they are released to the sea to harvest the natural food. The problem is that the excessive amount of wild salmon released have a natural advantage having been hatchery reared so when they are released they can out-compete truly wild salmon for food.
Callander McDowell caroler: Make what you will of the terminology. There is no difference between hatchery reared wild fish and hatchery reared farmed fish. In addition some Alaskan salmon an on-grown in net pens which look just like salmon farms.
Callander McDowell caroler: This subject is wide ranging and for every point made there is an opposite view. I am aware that not all Alaskan rivers use hatcheries and the fact that others do means that these don’t.
The underlying issue is that not all salmon sold as wild are. They are ranched, farmed, enhanced or whatever term is used. They are not wild.
In every area of food production man has turned to farming to survive. We have been farming fish for over 4000 years and will continue to do so. The main point is that wild fish are not just fed to salmon but also to pigs poultry and pet cats. When wild fish is no longer fed to these land animals that normally don’t eat fish, then we can discuss whether it is right to feed wild fish to salmon. Currently 2.5 million tonnes of wild fish go to feed cats. This is the issue that Oceana needs to address.
Callander McDowell : Maybe you should first concentrate on that other story and stop fishmeal being used in terrestrial agriculture. And what about the 2.5 million tonnes of wild fish that goes to feed pet cats.Would be much more impressed with Oceana if they raised this issue in the national media
Herblelecti :Pretty moronic article. Just because the salmon ate mackerel doesn’t mean it has turned into a mackerel. If I eat salmon it doesn’t mean someone who eats me is eating salmon.
Brandon Harty : Can I see some citations? I’d love to see the research behind this as I may be doing an article of my own on a similar topic
Dallas Weaver karmabug:You don’t need any wild fish (aka. fish meal) to grow salmon and other fish. You don’t need fish meal in your cat food. It is their because it is cheaper than the alternative protein (amino acid) sources and has nothing to do with “fish in fish” out ratios and everything to do with relative protein prices.
It is a non-issue being exploited by Oceana for propaganda purposes.