Episode six: The Knowledge of Salmon

The Knowledge of Salmon

From smoked salmon to sushi, salmon is widely eaten and widely loved. But wild Atlantic salmon stocks are in a dangerous decline. In the meantime, Ireland plans to double its farmed salmon exports in the coming years and yet our government licensing system hangs in a 13-year stasis.

What’s the connection between wild salmon and farmed salmon? Organic certified salmon farming seems to provide a sustainable way for seafood lovers to keep eating the King of Fish. But campaigners argue that disease and parasites from salmon farms are one of the reasons why the future of wild fish now hangs in the balance, while Ireland’s Marine Institute says this is untrue.

Ireland currently produces under 20,000 tonnes of organic-certified farmed salmon per year, cashing in on its green image and relatively low intensity to export most of this premium product to European markets.

But intensive salmon farming giants like Scotland and Norway have battled increasing problems with disease and parasites, giving rise to animal welfare concerns for the farmed fish as well as the impacts on wild migratory salmonids. In 2018, a Scottish diver at Vacasay at a farm run by the Scottish Salmon Company, filmed this horrific footage, which you should definitely not watch before brunch.

So can Ireland double production of farmed salmon and stay sustainable?

With John Murphy of Salmonwatch Ireland and Catherine McManus of MOWI, the Norwegian aquaculture giant who produce the bulk of Ireland’s organic farmed salmon, Green Bites goes fishing for the truth about the sustainability of salmon.

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