Wild Salmon vs. Farmed Salmon

Which is better for Salmon Sustainability: Farmed vs Wild Salmon?

Salmon is one of nature’s great foods.  It has numerous health benefits and is high in nutrients and omega 3 fatty acids while being low in fat and calories.  However not all salmon is alike and while farmed salmon and wild salmon may look very similar there are a few differences which a consumer should be aware of.

What is wild salmon?

Wild Sockeye SalmonWild salmon is just what the name says: wild.  A wild salmon was born in a river, raised in the ocean and is a wild salmon just as nature intended it to be.

What is farmed salmon?

Salmon farming is a type of aquaculture where fish are raised in pens for human consumption.  The pens are usually located in the open ocean close to a protected bay or coastline.  Due to declines in wild fish stocks salmon farming can be seen as a way to continue supplying the world with edible fish while easing pressures from overfishing.  However, due to some of the negative ecological and health effects associated with aquaculture other experts are raising the alarm over farmed salmon.

Differences between wild salmon and farmed salmon?

Salmon Pen at a Salmon FarmOn the west-coast wild salmon is usually Sockeye, Chinook, Coho or Pink while farmed salmon is almost always Atlantic Salmon.  Due to diet and lifestyle dissimilarities there are quite a few differences in nutritional value between wild salmon and farmed salmon.  Wild salmon contains a higher percentage of omega 3 fatty acids and a more favorable ratio of omega 3 to omega 6 fatty acids than farmed salmon.  Due to a more sedentary lifestyle farmed salmon also have a higher fat and lower protein content than their wild salmon counterparts.  This may explain why farmed salmon are said to contain a higher percentage of PCP’s than wild salmon as PCP’s are found in fatty tissue.  Since farmed salmon are raised in close proximity to each other there is also a much higher incidence of disease and  sea lice than found in wild fish.  To combat this many fish farms put antibiotics in the fish feed to keep infection down and the fish healthy.  As a result the areas around fish farms can suffer negative ecological effects from the engineered fish feed and fish waste.

Wild Salmon

We think it is preferable to consume wild salmon over farmed salmon due to some of the negative health and environmental effects associated with farmed salmon.  Many stores and fish markets are now labeling their salmon as wild and it is getting easier for consumers to chose wild salmon over farmed salmon.  In addition canned salmon is almost always wild including canned wild red sockeye salmon, canned wild coho salmon and canned wild pink salmon.

Below are two canned salmon companies that use wild salmon rather than farmed salmon.  Each type of canned salmon can be bought online by clicking on the can.