Lousy salmon

When I was young salmon was a luxury and cheese a stable. Today salmon is cheap and cheese expensive. The reason why salmon is cheap today is the advent of salmon farming, carried out in many countries in the world. Millions of salmon are farmed, that is to say kept in pens which are quite an unnatural habitat for a fish which has developed a life cycle involving swimming thousands of miles.

A great deal of salmon comes from Western Canada and much is farmed there. Salmon like most animals can attract parasites and the parasite that salmon attracts is the sea lice. Sea lice in the wild infect mature salmon, occasionally, but the farming of salmon means that the louse has an easy target for salmon stocked in sea pens.

This also poses a problem for wild salmon because as the small young fish enter sea water from their freshwater birthing grounds, they come into contact with vast numbers of sea lice. Before the advent of salmon farming there were almost no cases of sea lice attaching to young salmon, that maybe only about three centimetres long. It is just as well because one or two lice will kill such a young salmon’ if the parasite attaches.

Apart from killing young wild salmon the sea lice kills mature salmon and can be spread by the wild salmon swimming past an uninfected salmon farm.

If you want to avoid eating lousy salmon the best thing is to eat fish that is not farmed, if you can. It is more expensive than farmed fish but traditionally salmon was always expensive, and only became cheap when we applied the principles of the battery hen farm to salmon production.

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