Are you a fan of salmon? Do you often choose farmed salmon over wild-caught? If so, you might want to think twice before adding it to your plate.
Farmed salmon has been a popular choice for many Australians, but did you know that it’s full of contaminants and dyes? In fact, some countries have even banned it due to the health risks associated with consuming it.
In this article, we’ll explore the pros and cons of eating farmed salmon and answer the question: is farmed salmon banned in Australia?
Let’s dive in and find out.
Is Farmed Salmon Banned In Australia?
The short answer is no, farmed salmon is not banned in Australia. However, the Australian government has implemented new import conditions for salmon products, which came into effect on September 1st, 2020. These new standards mean that any imported salmon not in consumer-ready format or that has not received an approved heat treatment will be directed to processing to an approved salmonid processing unit.
All fresh and smoked salmon available in Australia is farmed, with most of it coming from Tasmania. Unfortunately, farmed salmon is given a highly processed high-fat feed that has been shown to contain high levels of contaminants such as PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls), dioxins, and other toxic chemicals that have been linked to cancer and developmental issues in children. Various research papers also show that farmed salmon increases the risk of stroke in women, type 2 diabetes, obesity, and various cancers.
Moreover, farmed salmon is fed an unhealthy pellet that makes it a natural beige color. To make it more appealing to consumers, farmers add dyes to the feed so they can change the color of the fish from the inside out. These dyes are developed by a pharmaceutical company called Hoffman-La Roche, which has developed a color chart called the SalmoFan. It’s been noted that more affluent communities prefer darker shades of pink while lower social-economic groups prefer lighter shades.
Farmed salmon is also fed soy, which contains an array of unhealthy ingredients including genetically modified and non-organic soy. Additionally, farmed salmon is similar to a battery farm for chickens, with fish crammed into pens where diseases can be spread and therefore need to be kept under control. This has led to concerns about antibiotic use in farmed salmon.
What Is Farmed Salmon?
Farmed salmon refers to salmon that is raised in fish farms rather than being caught in the wild. The farming of Atlantic salmon begins on land at the breeding farm where sexually mature fish, known as broodstock, are held in large freshwater ponds or tanks. In Tasmania, only female fish are used in the grow-out phase because warm seawater temperatures can result in rapid sexual development in male fish, which results in greater disease susceptibility and poor meat quality. Therefore, a common practice in aquaculture is sex reversal of some female broodstock resulting in ‘neo-males’. When these neo-males are then crossed with normal females, only female offspring are produced.
Once a year, usually in autumn, individual broodstock are anaesthetized by submerging the fish in a water bath containing an anaesthetic agent. While anaesthetized, eggs and ‘milt’ (sperm) are removed from female and neo-male fish, respectively. While some female fish are allowed to recover from the anaesthetic and are released back into the ponds or tanks, the method of milt removal from neo-males requires the fish to be euthanized.
Farmed salmon is given a highly processed high-fat feed that has been shown to contain high levels of contaminants such as PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls), dioxins, and other toxic chemicals that have been linked to cancer and developmental issues in children. The pellets fed to farmed salmon contain soy, which is often genetically modified and non-organic. Farmed salmon is also crammed into pens where diseases can be spread and therefore need to be kept under control. This has led to concerns about antibiotic use in farmed salmon.
The Pros And Cons Of Farmed Salmon
Farmed salmon has its advantages and disadvantages, and it’s important to consider both when deciding whether to consume it. Here are some of the pros and cons of farmed salmon:
– Availability: Farmed salmon is available year-round, making it a convenient option for consumers who want to include salmon in their diet.
– Affordability: Farmed salmon is generally more affordable than wild-caught salmon, making it accessible to a wider range of consumers.
– Omega-3 fatty acids: Farmed salmon contains high levels of omega-3 fatty acids, which are essential for heart health and brain function.
– Nutritional value: Farmed salmon is a good source of protein, vitamins, and minerals.
– Contaminants: Farmed salmon has been shown to contain high levels of contaminants such as PCBs and dioxins, which can be harmful to human health.
– Environmental impact: Salmon farming can have a negative impact on the environment, including pollution and overfishing of smaller fish used as feed.
– Antibiotic use: Farmed salmon are often treated with antibiotics to prevent disease outbreaks, which can contribute to antibiotic resistance in humans.
– Dyes and additives: Farmed salmon may contain dyes and other additives that are not present in wild-caught salmon.
Health Risks Associated With Farmed Salmon
Farmed salmon has been linked to several health risks due to the contamination of its feed and living conditions. PCBs, dioxins, and other toxic chemicals have been found in high levels in farmed salmon, which can lead to cancer and developmental issues in children. In addition, research has shown that consuming farmed salmon increases the risk of stroke in women, type 2 diabetes, obesity, and various cancers.
The use of dyes to change the color of farmed salmon also poses a risk to consumers. The dyes used are developed by a pharmaceutical company and can contain harmful chemicals. Farmed salmon is also fed soy, which may contain genetically modified and non-organic ingredients.
The crowded conditions of salmon farms can lead to the spread of diseases among the fish, which can then require antibiotics to be kept under control. The overuse of antibiotics in farmed salmon has raised concerns about the development of antibiotic-resistant bacteria.
Countries That Have Banned Farmed Salmon
There are two countries that have banned farmed salmon: Australia and New Zealand. Both countries have implemented strict regulations on the importation of salmon products due to concerns about the impact of salmon farming on the environment and animal welfare. In Australia, imported salmon that has not received an approved heat treatment or is not in consumer-ready format will be directed to an approved salmonid processing unit. New Zealand has banned the farming of Atlantic salmon altogether, citing concerns about the spread of disease and the impact on wild fish populations.
These bans reflect growing concerns about the sustainability and safety of farmed salmon. Salmon farming has been criticized for its impact on the environment, including the spread of parasites and disease to wild fish populations. Farmers often use antibiotics to control disease outbreaks, which can contribute to antibiotic resistance in marine life and people who consume farmed salmon. Additionally, farmed salmon is often fed a highly processed, high-fat diet that can contain contaminants and unhealthy ingredients like soy.
While farmed salmon is not banned in most countries, including Australia, there is a growing awareness of the potential risks associated with consuming this product. As consumers become more informed about these issues, they may choose to seek out alternative sources of seafood that are more sustainable and environmentally friendly.
Regulations On Farmed Salmon In Australia
In Australia, regulations and licensing conditions are in place for both the fresh water and sea water stages of Atlantic salmon farming. These regulations incorporate production aspects such as the location of the farming lease, the size of the lease, potentially polluting activities, and waste management. Farms are required to ensure that there is no significant visual impact 35 metres beyond the edge of the lease as part of their license conditions. Remedial action is required if license conditions are breached.
Salmon farms are subject to ongoing monitoring of the water and sea bed underneath and around the sea pens. Any environmental impact of farms can be reduced by preventing feed wastage, by promptly removing dead or moribund fish from the sea pens, and by fallowing sea pens regularly. The Australian government has not banned farmed salmon but has implemented new import conditions for salmon products to ensure that imported salmon products meet certain standards before being sold to consumers.
Alternatives To Farmed Salmon
If you’re concerned about the sustainability of farmed salmon or the potential health risks associated with consuming it, there are plenty of delicious and nutritious alternatives to choose from. Here are some options to consider:
1. Wild Australian Mackerel: This oily fish is a great substitute for salmon and is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which are essential for heart health. It’s also a more sustainable option, as wild mackerel populations are currently healthy.
2. Flathead: Another sustainable option, flathead is a mild-flavored white fish that’s versatile and easy to cook. It’s also a good source of protein and low in fat.
3. Sardines: These small, oily fish are packed with nutrients, including omega-3s, vitamin D, and calcium. They’re also a more sustainable choice than salmon, as sardine populations are generally healthy.
4. Pink Snapper: This firm-textured white fish is a popular choice in Australia and is a good substitute for salmon in many recipes. It’s also a more sustainable option than farmed salmon.
5. Farmed Prawns: If you’re looking for a luxurious seafood option that’s also sustainable, farmed prawns are a good choice. They’re high in protein and low in fat, and they’re generally raised in closed systems that minimize environmental impact.
6. Wild-Caught Blue Swimmer Crab: This sweet and tender crab meat is a delicious alternative to salmon and is sustainably caught in Australia.
7. Blue Mussels: These shellfish are high in protein and low in fat, and they’re also a more sustainable option than farmed salmon. They’re versatile and can be cooked in many different ways.