WASHINGTON, Jan. 8 /PRNewswire/ -- Oceana today called for global testing
and labeling of fish in response to new findings reported in the journal
Science that consuming farm-raised salmon could pose significant health risks.
The study exhaustively tested and compared salmon raised by the fast-growing
aquaculture industry to those caught in the wild and found that many extremely
toxic chemicals accumulate at significantly higher levels in farm-raised fish.
The farm-raised fish consistently carry levels high enough to trigger warnings
from the Environmental Protection Agency and the World Health Organization.
"When combined with reports of mercury contamination in other species of
fish such as swordfish and tuna, as well as pesticides in shrimp -- to say
nothing of concerns about mad cow disease -- this study demonstrates that
people need better information about what they are eating and where it comes
from. One way they can get that information is from testing and labeling
programs," said Jackie Savitz, Director of Pollution Programs for Oceana.
Among the chemicals of concern are PCBs, formerly used in electrical
equipment; dioxins, which are byproducts of waste incineration; and the
pesticides toxaphene and dieldrin. Many other chemicals were also found at
much higher levels in the farmed fish than in the wild fish. These chemicals,
known as organochlorines, can cause a host of illnesses including cancer,
reproductive and immune impairment, and neurological and developmental
The researchers attribute the significant difference in contamination to
differences in diet between farm-raised and wild-caught fish. Their analyses
found that feed for farm-raised salmon, which is concentrated and high in fish
oils and fish meal, was also significantly contaminated.
"This is a global problem that hits very close to everyone's home," said
Andrew Sharpless, Chief Executive Officer of Oceana. "Fish are a healthy part
of the diet and people should not be forced to choose between nutrition and
contamination -- but they must be able to distinguish safe fish from
"We need a global testing and labeling program so we can make an informed
choice about what we eat. Letting people know that they're eating farmed
salmon -- and where it comes from -- is an important first step."
Contaminant levels were highest in salmon raised in European countries,
possibly as a result of higher contamination levels in fish feed produced
According to Xavier Pastor, Vice President for European Oceans and Seas,
"Due to the high levels of toxics in farmed salmon in Europe, Oceana is also
calling on the European Union to more carefully regulate farm-raised fish and
above all to eliminate contamination that threatens public health."
Salmon from farms in Chile were somewhat less contaminated than those
produced in North America or Europe, but were still significantly more
contaminated than wild-caught fish. Marcel Claude, Vice President for
Southern Oceans and Antarctica in Santiago, Chile, stated "Chile should not be
proud that its salmon is not the most contaminated. As a major producer of
farm-raised salmon, Chile must make sure its fish are safe to eat."
Oceana is a non-profit international advocacy organization dedicated to
restoring and protecting the world's oceans through policy advocacy, science,
law and public education. Founded in 2001, Oceana's constituency includes
members and activists from more than 150 countries and territories who are
committed to saving the world's marine environment. Oceana, headquartered in
Washington, D.C., has additional offices in key U.S. coastal areas, a South
American office in Santiago, Chile, and a European office in Madrid, Spain.
For more information, please visit www.Oceana.org.
CONTACT: Sam Haswell of Oceana, +1-202-467-1906.