Debunking the Myths of Wild Versus Farmed Salmon


Written by Paige McClenahan

In my time promoting the IMV Technologies fish artificial insemination line, I’ve listened to a lot of discussion surrounding the age-old debate: Which is better, wild or farmed salmon? Seafood consumption has grown considerably in the past 20 years and with it the concern about the environmental impact and health benefits of farmed fish and seafood. I want to discuss some of the most common myths I’ve heard.

Myth #1

Environmental impact of salmon farming 

Studies have shown that the farmed salmon industry has a relatively lower carbon emission generation than the production of other foods. In addition to this, the high feed conversion rate of farmed fish makes their production an efficient use of resources. 

Aquaculture farming operations follow strict regulations put in place to protect the environment and health of consumers. In the USA, the Food and Drug Administration, Department of Health and Human Services and the Environmental Protection Agency, among others, oversee the aquaculture industry.  

Myth #2

Escapes of farmed salmon into wild populations 

While there are instances of farmed salmon escaping into the wild, some clarification about the level of consequence associated to this is necessary. For example, should Atlantic salmon escape into the water around the Pacific Northwest of the USA where Pacific salmon reside, there is little risk of breeding with the native population. The reason being that they are two different breeds of salmon who cannot successfully produce fertile offspring.  In addition, there has been no successful documented reproduction of escaped Atlantic salmon in the Pacific Northwest. These populations are accustomed to being fed and may not thrive outside of their farmed system.

Technological advancement in net pens will move to dramatically decrease the instance of escapes in the future. 

Myth #3

The use of dyes in farmed salmon 

Both wild and farmed salmon get their coloration from astaxanthin, which is found in the food they consume.

Myth #4

The healthfulness of consuming wild caught salmon over farmed salmon 

Consuming both wild and farmed salmon provides you with many health benefits, one being the consumption of Omega-3-fatty acids. These fatty acids are shown to maintain and improve cardiovascular, vision and brain health. The good news is that both wild and farmed salmon have comparable Omega-3- fatty acids values which may vary by species, rather than by the way they were harvested.

The bottom line is that salmon and other seafood products can be a great part of a healthy diet! Whether you choose wild or farmed salmon, you’re getting the health benefits. Rest assured the aquaculture industry continues to provide a sustainable and environmentally friendly food source.  Our goal at IMV Technologies is to sell artificial insemination supplies for salmon, trout and other fish species, and to help our customers produce healthful and safe animal-derived protein.

The views expressed in IMV Technologies' blog do not necessarily represent the views of the IMV Technologies Group but solely those of the blog post's author