SOTA Fights Pew's Farmed Salmon Criticism


SeafoodSource staff

Published on
October 23, 2008

Salmon of the Americas is criticizing the Pew Charitable Trusts for excluding it from a press conference the organization held yesterday to raise awareness of the global farmed salmon industry's flaws. The industry group, which represents salmon producers in the United States, Canada and Chile, said it made several requests to participate.

Conference participants said sea lice infestations in British Columbia, the infectious salmon anemia (ISA) outbreak in Chile and the overuse of antibiotics in Chile are among the industry's troubles. They also pointed to this week's discovery by German food-safety authorities of traces of the fungicide crystal violet and the parasiticide abamectina, both banned substances, in two samples of Chilean salmon imports.

"Quite simply, the indiscriminate introduction of antibiotics into the ocean is playing Russian roulette with sea life," said Michael Hirschfield, chief scientist and senior VP of North America at Oceana. "One of the frightening aspects of the overuse of antibiotics in Chile is the potential widespread development of resistant bacteria in the vicinity of salmon pens. The world simply does not need any more resistant bacteria. It's bad for humans and it's bad for other creatures as well."

Conference participants called on the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to increase testing of farmed salmon imports and urged consumers to avoid eating the product.

"According to PEW, generating media attention can effectively dissuade consumers from purchasing farmed salmon," said SOTA in a press release. "Ironically, despite the recommendations made by the American Heart Association and The Institute of Medicine of the National Academies urging consumers to routinely include seafood like salmon as part of a healthy diet, these groups continue to generate negligent media hype creating confusion on the very people they claim to be shielding.

"Their misleading information and agenda-driven ideals create consumer uncertainty despite the vast improvements and strictly regulated industry of salmon aquaculture," the group added.

Also participating in yesterday's conference were Gerald Leape, director of Pew's Salmon Aquaculture Reform Campaign; Urvashi Rangan, senior scientist and policy analyst at the Consumers Union; chef-advocate Barton Seaver; and William Hubbard, former FDA associate commissioner for policy and planning.

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