“The impact is so severe that the viability of the wild salmon populations is threatened,” says lead author Martin Krkosek, a fisheries ecologist from the University of Alberta. Krkosek and his co-authors calculate that sea lice have killed more than 80% of the annual pink salmon returns to British Columbia’s Broughton Archipelago. “If nothing changes, we are going to lose these fish.”
Previous peer-reviewed papers by Krkosek and others showed that sea lice from fish farms can infect and kill juvenile wild salmon. This, however, is the first study to examine the population-level effects on the wild salmon stocks. Things don't look good out there for wild-caught salmon. And as you know, Salmon that are wild-caught are much, much healthier food.
According to experts, the study also raises serious concerns about large-scale proposals for net pen aquaculture of other species and the potential for pathogen transfer to wild populations. Nowhere is this more visible than in China, where a probing New York Times article today describes the total mess that China is making of its environment due to fish farms that are set up to send this "food" to the USA and other countries. Here's a brief clipping of that commentary:
Here in southern China, beneath the looming mountains of Fujian Province, lie dozens of enormous ponds filled with murky brown water and teeming with eels, shrimp and tilapia, much of it destined for markets in Japan and the West.
Fuqing is No. 1 on a list for refused seafood shipments from China. It is one of the centers of a booming industry that over two decades has transformed this country into the biggest producer and exporter of seafood in the world, and the fastest-growing supplier to the United States.
But that growth is threatened by the two most glaring environmental weaknesses in China: acute water shortages and water supplies contaminated by sewage, industrial waste and agricultural runoff that includes pesticides. The fish farms, in turn, are discharging wastewater that further pollutes the water supply.
“Our waters here are filthy,” said Ye Chao, an eel and shrimp farmer who has 20 giant ponds in western Fuqing. “There are simply too many aquaculture farms in this area. They’re all discharging water here, fouling up other farms.”
Farmers have coped with the toxic waters by mixing illegal veterinary drugs and pesticides into fish feed, which helps keep their stocks alive yet leaves poisonous and carcinogenic residues in seafood, posing health threats to consumers.
It appears that this tremendous environmental degradation on the other side of the world has become a food safety problem for us in the USA, and scientists say the long-term risks of consuming contaminated seafood could lead to higher rates of cancer and liver disease and other afflictions. It is time to stop this nonsense. The only one who can stop it is the consumer. Insist on wild-caught fish.