'Organic fish' debated

The Fish Site
by The Fish Site
16 November 2006, at 12:00am

MIAMI - A coalition of environmental groups and chefs has launched a campaign aimed at scrutinizing proposed organic standards for the country's farm-raised fish.

The Pure Salmon Campaign, sponsored by the advocacy group National Environmental Trust, is pressing the Department of Agriculture, which is drawing up the new standards. The government is exploring whether to grant fish farmers the coveted ''organic'' label if they use organic feed; largely protect their fish from hormones, pesticides and chemicals; and institute practices to keep fish from escaping into the ocean.

Campaign advocates question whether farm-raised salmon can ever be considered ''organic'' because the fish are never allowed to migrate naturally and because they eat fish meal that comes in part from wild-caught fish, a practice that can deplete ocean resources and increase the salmon's concentration of carcinogenic PCBs.

Todd Gray, executive chef of Equinox restaurant in Washington, D.C., said he would be willing to buy sustainably farmed salmon but right now buys the more expensive wild salmon because it's more environmentally friendly.

But David Rideout, executive director of the Canadian Aquaculture Industry Alliance, said salmon farmers in Canada and the United States are ''undergoing some very rigorous efforts and reviews'' to qualify for the organic label.

Source: Miami Herald