The difference between sardines and farmed salmon

The Fish Site
by The Fish Site
19 April 2007, at 1:00am

US - Sardines or swordfish? Pacific or Atlantic halibut? Farmed or wild-caught sturgeon?

When it comes to choosing eco-friendly seafood -- fish that aren't overfished or farmed in ways that harm the environment or other wildlife -- there are bad, better and good choices.

Some good options: sardines, Pacific halibut and farmed sturgeon.

But knowing and remembering those distinctions can be tricky. Consumers might wonder whether eating seafood at all is a good idea, with all the attention about mercury, PCBs and pollution from farmed fish.

"To say all wild fish are overfished is not correct," said Joey Brookhart, senior project manager of the Washington trade group Seafood Choices Alliance. "At the same time, it's not correct to say all farmed fish or all aquaculture is bad."

Take farmed catfish and tilapia, two popular fish. They're typically farmed in a "closed system" inland in which waste can be controlled before it's released into local waterways, said Michelle Jost, conservation programs manager at Chicago's Shedd Aquarium. And since they eat a plant-based diet, they don't put a strain on wild fish populations.

Farmed salmon, plentiful in the United States, is a different story, Jost said. They're generally raised in an "open system" -- essentially large, netted pens set in the ocean. That's problematic for two main reasons -- salmon are carnivorous and feed on other fish, which threatens wild fish stocks, and waste from the farms filters straight into the ocean.

Source: Sun Times