Greenpeace and Salmon

Facts About Greenpeace’s Campaign

Greenpeace frequently campaigns against the U.S. Retailers that do not adhere to their recommended seafood list as supported by the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch List. Salmon Facts offers counter arguments that have been taken by our colleagues at the National Fisheries Institute (NFI) and would like to provide the public with factual data in effort to educate customers and strengthen the position against Greenpeace and other NGOs.

Effect on Wild Salmon Stocks

Greenpeace ignores that the ratios of wild fisheries used in the production of fishmeal have decreased over the last few years. The farmed salmon industry continues to research feed alternatives to increase the industry’s independence from fisheries. 

Although the use of marine resources will always be there, fish meal and fish oil, it will be in a responsible way based on the management of these species by the local policies of each government and possible certifications available.

Effect on Salmon Ocean Sites

This group also fails to point out that salmon farming sites occupy a tiny portion of the coastal zone areas in which they are located. Many environmental considerations are taken into account when these sites are selected and they are also monitored by strict governmental regulations during their operation, guaranteeing that any detrimental effect will be detected immediately. If necessary, regulation in different countries allows production control, avoiding any potential environmental damage.

Salmon Fish Waste

The primary waste products entering the water around salmon farming operations are salmon feces and uneaten feed that falls to the sea floor. Both are organic materials and the salmon fecal matter is no different than that from Wild fish. The first concern of salmon farmers and others is how this solid matter affects the areas under the sea cages. 

To a large degree, this depends on the tidal currents, which disperse the matter, and varies by location. When tides are not sufficient to disperse the daily load, salmon feces and uneaten feed falls to the bottom under the site faster than can be consumed by the salmon. 

The effects from this occurrence are limited to the immediate area of the farm and the sediments return to normal within several months after a farm is “fallowed” or moved to another site. The movement of sites is routinely observed abiding by government regulations and requirements. The effects of the ocean bottom begin to reverse naturally as soon as the fish are fully harvested from a site.

Escapes From Salmon Farming Sites

Escapements from salmon farming cages are an occurrence that is controlled depending on the location of the sites. The main concerns with escapements are competition for food and habitat and interbreeding. This is deterred by often placing a second net around the primary net containing the fish. 

When farmed Pacific salmon escape they do not compete well in the wild and do not have a high survival rate therefore reducing the chances of competition for food and habitat. Escaped Atlantic salmon farmed in the Pacific waters have an even poorer survival rate because they are a distinct species from Pacific salmon not allowing them to interbreed.