Salmon Fallout -- and Diver Deaths


I've been remiss in tracking here the farmed salmon issue I wrote about in the April/May Eating Well. Much has transpired; here a few tidbits and updates.

Soon after my feature ran, news broke that the Sacramento king (aka chinook) salmon run -- traditionally fairly robust, and the base of both the California salmon fishing industry and the main supply for many California restaurants -- went completely snuff this year. The California salmon fishery was closed for the first time in 160 years. A stunning blow to the fishing industry and all fans of salmon in general.

This has had some interesting fallout right up the line. The Eater SF blog laments:

The cancellation of salmon season has made the question of farmed/wild salmon a hot topic, and now at least one more local won't be resorting to the Loch Duart alternative: "It will come as no surprise, then, that there is one fish I will not serve at Contigo: farmed salmon. Not even Scotland's eco-friendly Marine Conservation Society-endorsed Loch Duart salmon. My decision isn't based on holier-than-thou food snob bull shit. It comes from my heart. My decision is based on respect for and solidarity with people like Larry Miyamura, hardworking fishermen who depend on the salmon season for the majority of their income. It's a personal choice. It just wouldn't feel right to me to put farmed salmon on my restaurant's menu. Especially not this year."

That quote comes from chef Brett, who blogs at in praise of sardines
and is soon to open a new restaurant, Contigo.

And yesterday's news brings report of another problem with the farmed salmon industry, at least in Chile: The death on April 25 of farmed-salmon industry diver Nelson Andrés Bustamente, from the bends, brought to 54 the number of Chilean salmon industry divers who have died since 2005. Crîstån Soto of the local divers union there in Chile told a Patagonia Times reporter that Bustamente died because he had been asked to go deeper than is safe. "Every day we go down further than we're supposed to, Why do we do it? Because if we don't, we'll be out of work." The Patagonia Times story ran no response from industry. The mere count, however -- 54 divers dead in a bit over 3 years -- seems rather damning itself.

More like this

David - Amazing stats on the diver deaths. As a fellow diver (and friend of someone who got the bends) your Eating Well piece and this blog post have got me reconsidering my almost-certainly-farmed salmon habit.

By Brian Vastag (not verified) on 07 May 2008 #permalink