Delicious Salmon: Farmed Cheaply, Imported Daily, and Rarely Inspected
By Mitch Jones
Ah… there’s nothing like fresh, domestic fish, especially salmon. Too bad most of the salmon that we consume here in the U.S. isn’t fresh or domestic. A new report out this month announces that U.S. imports of salmon were up 22.8% in January and February of this year versus the first two months of 2011. This isn’t surprising, but it’s really unfortunate, especially for America’s fisheries. Each year the U.S. hands over about 85% of our domestic seafood market to imports, while we export a smaller amount of high quality, domestic wild-caught seafood. Yep, that’s right: we import and eat the cheap, farmed stuff while we ship out the good stuff. This is insane and it means our fishermen are being undercut by cheap imports.
Another recent report highlights this. Gunnar Knapp, an economist at the University of Alaska – Anchorage, points out that the price of farmed salmon is falling. He notes that the Chilean farmed salmon industry is rebounding, so it shouldn’t be a surprise that the import report notes a 117% increase in fresh Chilean fillets and an 81.7% increase in frozen Chilean fillets imported in to the U.S. Other factors paly a part in this: the Chilean aquaculture industry, for example, is just recovering from a major problem with illness in their fish. But this means more farmed, imported salmon is available on the market.
Sadly, if we know anything at all about our seafood imports, we should know that only two percent of it is inspected. Considering much of the seafood we import is coming from nations that have food safety standards much lower than ours, this can be disconcerting. We also know there are myriad problems associated with fish farmed in the open ocean, even here in the United States.
So, what can seafood lovers do to avoid a bad catch? The simplest step you can take to combat these seafood woes is to make sure you buy wild-caught, domestic seafood.