Aquaculture not the way to save salmon

The Fish Site
by The Fish Site
7 November 2007, at 12:00am

US - Fish have had a hold on me from the first time I wet a line, standing next to my father on the banks of a well-stocked lake on the corporate campus of Bristol Meyers Squibb in Lawrenceville, NJ,writes Michael Cimarusti. He is a lifelong fisherman whose seafood-focused restaurant in Los Angeles, Providence, was nominated for the best new restaurant award by the James Beard Foundation in 2006.

The finest fish do not come cheap and the species that chefs and consumers covet grow scarcer each year. Aquaculture has been proffered as a solution, but all is not right in that world, which presents a real dilemma for us. By taking a page from the past, however, we may just be able to chart a course toward a more sustainable future.

One of the most regal and culturally significant fish in the world is the salmon. Coho or sockeye, Pacific or Atlantic, salmon is prized wherever it is found, a value shared in both the new world as well as the old. But it also stands as an example of the trouble with aquaculture.

As a chef, I know that wild salmon swim in a completely different league from farm-raised fish. Whether it comes to texture, taste or appearance, I'll choose wild over farm-raised any day. Corny as it may sound, I so look forward to salmon season that I even take photos of myself with a few particularly beautiful specimens every year. Wild salmon are truly a gift and should be treated accordingly.

I feature wild salmon on our regular menu as well as our tasting menu. I do this largely because I believe salmon is a fish that often gets overlooked for other more exotic species and does not receive the respect it deserves as one of our best native wild fish. I think that largely because many people have never tasted properly prepared wild salmon.