Fish farms destroy wilderness areas and produce toxic product we believe to be healthy
OSCAR Wilde (via Lord Darlington in Lady Windermere’s Fan) defined a cynic as someone who “knows the price of everything and the value of nothing”. What does this have to do with the price of fish? Good question.
Wilde’s aphorism raises an important point. The value and the price are not the same. Many things are priceless because they are worthless – literally priceless. What would we be without fresh air, clean water, sun and the right to live in peace and security? What price should we put on this basic equipment?
Australians are way ahead of our ability to enjoy life, but little concern for the environment. Like in Jersey, hedonism is a fine art – but what is the real cost of comfort and indulgence? Agriculture, grazing and mining on a gigantic scale have wreaked havoc on a continent untouched by human greed and greed 250 years ago.
Enlightenment is rising, but very slowly. The early Australians felt more than respect for the land; they worship him as a mother. They know they are separated from the earth for a short time before being reunited with the country. (A wise Aboriginal editor explains that if you think God deserves respect for a capital letter, so does Country.)
On the other hand, many people who believe themselves to be more advanced or civilized despise the planet that gave birth to us and which provides for all our needs. The consequences of this contempt are increasingly apparent. The massive fires in Australia, California and Greece, flooding in Germany, rising sea levels, devastating hurricanes and the deadly spread of Covid like wildfire are clear warnings to moderate our self-destructive activities ahead. let it be too late.
The latest shock is the discovery that a staple of the Australian diet, fresh salmon, is not as healthy as we hoped, but terribly polluted. We try to eat well – but we are swallowed up by poisons of our own making. Australians love seafood as much as Jerseys. Most of us eat salmon once a week or more, believing it to be very nutritious. We are told that it is rich in essential fatty acids like omega-3s, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals. But there is something fishy about this luscious pink delicacy.
Most of the salmon eaten here are non-native Atlantic salmon, raised in the warm waters off Tasmania – and one Tasmanian lifted the lid on the box of worms. Novelist Richard Flanagan is rightly celebrated for his Booker Prize-winning masterpiece, The Narrow Road to the Deep North, but he is also a powerful conservationist. His latest book, Toxic, subtitled The Rotting Underbelly of the Tasmanian Salmon Industry, leaves an unpleasant taste but makes for fascinating reading.
Flanagan writes in a family cabin on Bruny Island, off the Hobart coast. At first the fishing, swimming, snorkelling and bird life were amazing. It was a paradise. In 2002, he noticed the sound of a small salmon farm, a mile across the water. He complained and the noise ceased. In 2005, the farm was taken over. The noise started again and did not stop. Fish stocks have declined and many species have completely disappeared. The water turned cloudy with algae blooms from all the wasted food and droppings flooding the canal. Lost paradise.
Fishermen all over the world know this feeling. My experience, having fished in Jersey waters every summer in the 1990s, out of Good Night in Wally Rondel’s Tequila and St Helier in David Seal’s Faith, has been one of diminishing returns. The decline in fish stocks was demonstrated by the weigh-in at the Jersey Off-Shore Angling Club’s annual competition.
In 1990, the weighbridge’s huge pile of fish, sold to support the Jersey Lifeboat, was three feet tall and weighed hundreds of pounds. By 2000, catches had fallen by 90%. The competition was canceled and the club dissolved. We wondered where the fish had gone and concluded that this was just another sad result of modern life. Then, one day off Paternoster Reef, we saw a British trawler moving slowly. Out of sight, it methodically scraped life from the seabed, destroying habitat and the future. We were wasting our time.
Salmon consumers and other nations are all innocent victims of the environmental destruction caused by fish farming. The original raw material was fishmeal and fish oil made from anchovies imported from Peru, where factories caused appalling pollution and poverty by breaking the food chain and eliminating anchovies. To prevent fishmeal and fish oil from going rancid or self-combusting during transport, it has been stabilized with ethoxyquin, a Monsanto pesticide that is carcinogenic to humans.
Today, much of the protein in salmon feed comes from the remains of slaughtered cows, sheep and chickens – banned in Europe since the appearance of the ‘mad cow’ but still legal here. Soybean meal can be replaced, but side effects include increased deforestation and replacement of beneficial omega-3 acids with artery-blocking omega-6s. When farmed salmon get sick, they are stuffed with antibiotics and violently “washed” by machines. When their flesh turns gray, it is simply dyed pink with another petrochemical derivative, synthetic astaxanthin.
Flanagan calls farmed salmon the battery chickens of the sea. Dirt and cruelty are only allowed because they are out of sight. These sterilized fish, so magnificent in the wild, live in “a soup of shit and ammonia … chromosomally distorted … (in) lifelong pain … in water that is sometimes so low in oxygen that they choke on it. dead “. A bubbling mass of white grubs lives in the waters below, feeding on excrement.
Fish farms turn pristine wilderness into an industrial wasteland. Bureaucrats and politicians on both sides are in the pockets of the salmon companies. The Tasmanian government continually supports the industry with laws, grants, bailouts and loans.
This is a terrible warning. Fortunately, the Jersey tides prevent this kind of fish farming. Let him stay that way for a long time.