The Farmed Salmon Feed Controversy & Consumer Responsibility

Here’s an interesting video & writeup about the controversy over the production of fishmeal for the feeding of farmed salmon. From The Ecologist: farmed salmon feed controversy.

The video & accompanying text focus on Peru, and in particularly on the anchovy fishery there.

…Peru, the world’s leading exporter, supplying 28 per cent of the UK’s fishmeal, and documented a host of unreported environmental and social costs – including pollution and health problems, overfishing, and impacts on ecosystems and wildlife – all arising from the production of fishmeal and fish oil, principal ingredients in farmed salmon feed….

There’s evidence in the video (mostly anecdotal evidence) of a lack of adequate regulation. That is, it seems that the Peruvian government is either unwilling, or unable, to enforce the regulations that it apparently has in place. But there’s also a call to arms aimed at consumers.

In at least some cases, lax regulation is a choice. Governments may choose lax regulations in order to foster economic development (i.e., a better standard of living for their citizens). (Note that Peru is far from wealthy: the country ranks 83rd in the world in terms of per capita GDP.) But consumers of products of such nations do not, of course, have to endorse such prioritization. If the ecological (or social) costs being implicitly accepted by a particular country are really beyond the pale, then it makes perfect sense not to buy that country’s product. The operative question is just how bad things have to be before it makes sense to reject a country’s own priority-setting choices.

About Chris MacDonald

I'm a philosopher who teaches at Ryerson University's Ted Rogers School of Management in Toronto, Canada. Most of my scholarly research is on business ethics and healthcare ethics.
This entry was posted in choice, consumerism, ethics, fisheries, regulation, values. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to The Farmed Salmon Feed Controversy & Consumer Responsibility

  1. Anastasia says:

    I don’t understand why they don’t feed a meal of soy and insects to carnivorous farmed fish.

  2. My guess is that insects are far too difficult to harvest in the quantities required.

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