Eating Fish: Farm Raised vs. Wild Caught

seafood salmon

Do You Buy Wild or Farm Raised Seafood?

Eating fish is one of the best food choices we can make.  I think I could be a semi-vegetarian because I love all vegetables, but I love fish too.  The dilemma for me, is to find out which kind of fish to buy.  I am looking into farm raised vs. wild caught fish, as the stores usually offer both.

I was under the impression that wild caught fish was better.  In my mind, logically, once people become in charge of raising something to sell, and make money from, they can become unscrupulous.  What exactly are they doing on those fish farms?  What are they feeding the fish, that I will end up consuming if I buy their fish?

Oh sure, there are regulations, and from what I read the U.S. is strict on the way fish are farmed, but how do we know?  Have you ever seen a fish farm in person?  I have not.  But a search on YouTube brings up plenty of fish farming practices, from submerged ocean farms to backyard fisheries.

In this post at wtop, written in June 2015, the author believes that we will see more fish farms as time goes on.  One reason being that the carbon footprint is smaller.  No boats going out to sea, no trucking fresh caught fish to processing and then to market.  Fish farms can be built close to cities.

All this makes me wonder about the future of our fisherman.  In some areas, catching wild fish may lead to over-fishing and populations declining.  Wild fish may be eating contaminants in their wild habitats, which are then passed on to the consumer.  But there are fishermen (and women) who are responsible and choose sustainable methods of fishing.  (See my Alaska Gold link below.)

Controlling how the fish eat is one advantage of farm raising our fish supply.  However, it can be a disadvantage if you are worried about additives and food sources.   Many wild-caught fish eat smaller fish which eat algea.  The algea is what gives fish it’s good source of  omega-3s.  But fish farmers can grow their own algea and feed it to the fish.  This sounds good, but do they do it?  Do those farm fish have as many good nutrients as their free relatives?

The world-wide organization ASC (Aquaculture Stewardship Council) accredits fish farms as being environmentally and socially responsible.  At the site they list which farms are already certified, or are in the process of being certified.  They also provide a list of what is expected in order to become certified.    They also provide a list of certified suppliers at FishChoice.  A few of these are located in the United States.  I’m not saying this is all there is, this is the list I came across.

So how do we know where the grocery stores buy their fresh and frozen fish?  Is there any way to find out, besides getting a job at the local store?  I don’t know.  So I went to the Publix twitter account and asked where they get their farm-raised seafood.  I got the answer within a couple of days, and was told that their “farm raised salmon is sourced from Chile”.

I live in the northeastern US and there are no Pubix supermarkets up here.  When I lived in Florida it was the only place I would shop.  If any store was going to answer my question, it would have been them, and they came through.  Of course Chile is a big place, and that doesn’t narrow it down.  I still have to go on faith that they get their fish from a reputable place.  But, I love Publix so I would trust them.

In the mean time, I have been ordering salmon and halibut from the Alaska Gold company, which is a seafood producers cooperative (SPC).  They guarantee quality Alaska seafood, caught by the traditional hook & line method.  They follow sustainable fishing practices, and all the seafood comes from the northern Pacific Ocean.  I’ve already had one order, and went through that pretty fast.  The seafood is delicious.  I know exactly where it’s coming from, which answers many questions for me.


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