Protect Patagonia: Eat Sustainable Wild Salmon

Wendy Redal February 8, 2010 2

glacier_grey2The jagged coast of southern Chile is one of the most dramatic places on earth. A maze of fjords and islands, the topography is testament to the power of ice to shape a landscape. Massive glaciers wind down from the high Andes, calving blue icebergs into the frigid sea.

Patagonia’s crenellated western shoreline stretches more than 50,000 miles. Its pristine waters have been isolated from pollution problems that plague coastal areas near large population centers. But that’s changing — and the salmon you buy could mean the difference in preserving the stunning beauty of Chile’s marine wilderness.

Chile is the world’s second-largest producer of farmed salmon behind Norway. Drawn by Chile’s clean, cold waters, Norwegian companies have established fish-farming operations along the Patagonian coast. Unlike self-contained tilapia farms, however, salmon farming is done in pens placed in natural ocean waters. And, as with any form of concentrated animal agriculture, waste is a problem. It removes oxygen from the water, destroying the ability of the aquatic ecosystem to sustain life and creating dead zones in the ocean. Wild salmon living in such conditions also become vulnerable to parasites and a lethal virus called infectious salmon anemia. As the aquatic environment is harmed, fish-farming operations in Chiles simply continue to move farther into the southern fjords.

The most important way you can respond is never to buy farmed salmon. The message is catching on: Target recently announced it would sell only wild-caught Alaskan salmon in its stores. The chain made the decision after consulting with the Monterey Bay Aquarium, which helps retailers and consumers identify “best choices” for sustainable fish.

For guidance on other sustainable seafood choices, consult the Marine Stewardship Council, whose certification and eco-labeling program help to promote environmentally conscious fisheries worldwide.


  1. Nelson February 9, 2010 at 8:44 am - Reply

    Hi Wendy,

    I have to agree with you, when I first heard about Target’s decision I thought it was a bold and good decision. But then I really started to think about why would Target, (who have never been a green focused business) make this decision?

    Why? There is money to by made by exploiting an endangered species! There is no denying that we all love a piece of Salmon, our world demand is increasing at 9% p.a. By adding extra pressure on the supply chain of wild caught Salmon, Target realizes that demand will increase as supply will drop, increasing their profit margins.

    I think Target is doing a ’big shiny diamond’ PR piece. Hey everyone look at this! We, they public are amazed and think wow but no one questions if it is real.

    I think we need to do this to Target. Everyone should ask Target how are they going to contribute back to wild Stock Salmon? Back to the streams and improving Salmon habitats? Back to increasing wild stock Salmon? Until they answer this, which they will not because Target has never in other food industries committed to long term environmental strategies. This a profit grab by exerting extra pressure on an already endangered species. You may think this is a good decision, it maybe … for today but long term for sustainability a bad one.

    Don’t sell out to Salmon for Target’s short term profits. Because they will happily walk away when the Salmon stocks are depleted, probably under a breach of contract. The only thing that Target is doing is taking away choice, having all year fresh Salmon should be the goal and both the wild caught and farmed Salmon can work together for this goal. My goal is to catch a Salmon with my grandkids in 20 years and I dont think this will be a possibility with Target’s decision!

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