October 5, 2017 at 7:30 AM
It has been a bad start to the fall for salmon, and for people who like to eat it. Here’s a quick recap of the news:
In late August, an open-water fish farm broke open, sending more than 100,000 salmon into Seattle-area waterways. The fish company initially attributed the break to high currents caused by the eclipse, though it later backed away from those claims. State and Native American tribal officials declared a”fish emergency,” the Los Angeles Times reported. “They fear the commercially bred, nonnative salmon will spread disease and weaken Pacific stocks through crossbreeding.” The fish have traveled as far as Vancouver Island, and state officials have been encouraging fishermen to catch them.
“They didn’t really have a salmon smell,” one Native American fisherman told Bloomberg. Though many looked normal, others had jaws “going two different directions,” he said. “I wouldn’t eat ’em.”
Wholesale prices of salmon are up, according to the Associated Press, because salmon have been stricken with lice. “A surge of parasitic sea lice is disrupting salmon farms around the world,” the Associated Press reported. “The tiny lice attach themselves to salmon and feed on them, killing or rendering them unsuitable for dinner tables.” (The lice look pretty disgusting; click if you dare). Sea lice are actually small crustaceans, and they have infested salmon farms in the United States, Canada, Scotland, Norway and Chile. Formerly, salmon were fed a pesticide to ward off the lice, but they have recently become resistant to it.
“The chance of a louse making its way to a diner’s plate is very small because salmon are checked for lice before being sent to market,” the AP wrote,” But even if one did, eating it wouldn’t pose a health threat.” Still, it’s a very good reason to buy wild salmon.
And finally, the salmon you buy at Walmart and Aldi may have come from North Korean forced labor, subsidizing that country’s nuclear program. That’s the alarming headline from an Associated Press investigation published Wednesday, shining light on a Chinese seafood processing company that relies on North Korean workers who are “paid a fraction of their salaries, while the rest — as much as 70 percent — is taken by North Korea’s government.” That money may be subsidizing North Korea’s weapons program, which has continued to escalate as a source of tension between the country and the United States following insults that President Trump has traded with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
It is a federal crime for products made in North Korea to be sold in the United States, and companies contacted by the AP have said that using forced labor, or supporting North Korea, is unacceptable in their supply chains. Workers at the processing plant make approximately 46 cents an hour and work for 12 hours a day, six days a week. The products were sold under the brand names of Walmart and Sea Queen, a house brand of Aldi.
Want to eat salmon you can be sure about? Consult the Monterey Bay’s seafood watch guide for recommendations.
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