Salmo salar or 'The Salmon of Knowledge'


"The Salmon of Knowledge" stamp from An Post



Dear readers,

This one shall be brief but an important topic nonetheless:

The plight of both the Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar) and the Pacific salmon species such as Chinook and Coho (all belonging to the genus Oncorhynchus) is a multifaceted, complex story and its relevance spans across multiple disciplines. Salmon are known to be keystone species as they migrate from freshwater spawning grounds to the open oceans and back, supplying crucial nutrients to both aquatic and terrestrial riparian ecosystems. The salmon plays an important cultural role in many races and is weaved into ancient myths and legends, such as the Irish legend " The Salmon of Knowledge".

Wild salmon today are faced with not only the challenge of migrating thousands of kilometres from and back to their gravel bed spawning sites near the source of rivers, they also must contend with the multibillion-dollar salmon farm industry. This industry has caused many lochs, bays and fjords in Norway, Scotland, Canada, Chile and the US to become infested with sea lice (Lepeophtheirus salmonis), killing thousands of farmed salmon in Scotland alone last year. The sea pens within which farmed salmon are reared are made of net, allowing the lice, as well as the antibiotics and pesticides used to combat them, enter our oceans and infect wild salmon, which raises the ethical issue of salmon farming.


A juvenile Pacific salmon infested with sea lice.



What's more is that farmed salmon are often fed on fish oil or fishmeal which are produced from marine species such as sardines and anchovies. Fish farming is often argued to provide a sustainable protein source for the growing human population, yet we must consider the impact this industry is having on already depleted wild fish populations and their surrounding ecosystems. 

The food we choose to consume and the impact each of us as individuals has on the planet is our own responsibility. I would recommend watching this documentary to aid in making an informed decision about consuming salmon, farmed or not;

And for those of you who like to keep it snappy, here is a 1:42 minute video instead