In a blow to the salmon aquaculture industry, on Tuesday Target announced it will stop selling farmed salmon in favor of more environmentally sustainable wild-caught salmon in its fresh, frozen and smoked seafood sections.
With its announcement, Target — the second largest retailer in the country behind Wal-Mart — raises the profile of the slew of problems associated with farming one of the most popular seafood species.
In case you need a refresher on why farmed salmon is so deleterious to the environment and potentially public health, check out this post I wrote back in 2008.
In the U.S. Oceana is working to protect wild Pacific salmon, and in Chile, we are working to reduce the use of antibiotics in the industry, reduce salmon escapes and establish a marine protected area in Patagonia to defend its pristine ecosystems from the industry’s southern push.
The Chilean salmon aquaculture industry, second in the world after Norway, is still reeling from an outbreak in 2007 of infectious salmon anemia (ISA), a nasty flu-like virus for which there is no remedy except to stop salmon production in affected areas.
As a result, only about a quarter of the salmon farms in Chile are currently operating, says Giuliana Furci, a Chilean salmon aquaculture expert.
But the Chilean government recently created new economic incentives for the industry to return to high production. “The lesson hasn’t been learned,” Furci said.
We still have a long way to go, but this decision is a good start. So kudos to you, Target.