Friday, December 14, 2007

Sea Lice for Dinner?

I read an article today that supported an amazing documentary I once saw about a woman who set out to study Orcas. Her research led her to discover fish farming and how the spread of sea lice was destroying the wild salmon population on the West Coast. The wild salmon were on a migration route and came into contact with sea lice when passing the fish farms.

I cannot find that original documentary link, but here is a bit of the news article from today:

"Wild salmon on Canada's west coast are being driven to extinction by parasites from nearby fish farms, a study claims.

Wild pink salmon around the Broughton Archipelago are declining rapidly and will die out within 10 years if no action is taken, say researchers.

They say the data, published in Science, raises serious concerns about the global expansion of aquaculture.

Sea lice from farms are known to infect wild salmon, but until now the impact on wild populations has been uncertain.

Scientists say commercial open-net salmon farms are a "haven" for sea lice - naturally occurring parasites that attach to the skin and muscle of salmon.

Mature fish can survive being infested by a few lice but tiny juvenile salmon are particularly vulnerable to attack.

"Salmon farming breaks a natural law," explained study co-author Alexandra Morton, director of the Salmon Coast Field Station, located in the Broughton Archipelago.

"In the natural system, the youngest salmon are not exposed to sea lice because the adult salmon that carry the parasite are offshore. But fish farms cause a deadly collision between the vulnerable young salmon and sea lice. They are not equipped to survive this, and they don't." *BBC News source

The article mentions a possible solution of moving the farms out of the paths of wild salmon. Another "solution" was to keep the farmed salmon in enclosed pens to try to prevent the spread of sea lice. It's so frustrating how the potential solutions in place do not even address the actual problem here. How many more grossly unnatural environments can we create so that we can kill and eat animals, and then be surprised at the problems we've created because of it?

Most people do not look into where their fish comes from. I was disgusted at the sight of fish farms and of commercial fishing as well. It only takes a few images to figure out why I have no desire to eat fish and would never feel like I am "missing out" on it:

Over-fishing, destruction of the environment, and bycatch animals are enough to realize that fish are just as destructive to kill as are cow and chickens. With the fact that fish do feel and that they are not treated humanely in any way, I could never participate in eating fish or crustaceans. (or any animal at all.)

"You need fish for the Omega somethings!" Yeah, just like we need cow's milk for calcium?

The Omega 3 issue is one I hear a lot from proponents of eating fish. It's easy to substitute your source of Omega 3's though. Which one looks like a healthier source to you?

Dead fish:


Sources of Omega 3's for vegans:

"Vegans can get omega-3 fatty acids by eating flax seeds or flax oil every day. A more reliable but more expensive non-animal animal source of EPA and DHA is from algae or phytoplanton. Indeed, this is were fish get their EPA and DHA since they don’t manufacture their own. *Modern Psychiatry source

It's interesting how cow's milk has calcium added, and how salmon do not actually manufacture the Omega 3's. Why would we rely on these animals for what we need, when we can go to a different source?

Update! I forgot to add in the most common source of Omega 3's! Nuts and nut oils! (Thank you, Ash, for pointing this out!) I mostly hear of walnuts as a great source, but also many nut oils:

"Nut oils are good sources of omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin E. Walnut oil is highest in omega-3s. Nut oils contain saturated as well as unsaturated fats. Consider using nut oils in homemade salad dressing or in cooking. When cooking with nut oils, remember that they respond differently to heat than do vegetable oils. Nut oil, if overheated, can become bitter. Just like with nuts, use nut oil in moderation to restrict overall calorie and fat intake." *Mayo Clinic source

When I read articles like that of the sea lice, I am happy that I do not partake in the killing of animals. It's nice when you are comfortable with your diet because you know, without a doubt, that it's the best thing for you and for the environment. An added bonus of being vegan: when I make my morning breakfast shake and add my Tablespoon of flax oil, I won't have to peek into the cup and check for sea lice. ;)

1 comment:

Blessed are the Merciful said...

Great article. Thanks for sharing and commenting. I wrote a research paper for a health class I was taking on why plant sources of omega-3s are better than animal sources. The professor was surprised and even kept the paper as an example to future students. :D

Thanks for getting the word out. I know so many environmentalists/animal lovers who eat fish. It boggles my mind. :S