This is part two of a three part series where we explore the Farmed Fish Industry.

Pesticides are fed to fish and toxic copper sulfate is used to keep the fish nets free of algal growth are building up on the sea floor as well. Antibiotics are used which have contributed to resistant strains of bacteria in wild and farmed salmon.

Moreover, all fish get contaminated from industrial runoff and from directly dumping toxic crap into the oceans and lakes. Yes it still happens and that’s why we are being poisoned. The action of bacteria converts industrial mercury into methylmercury. Fish tend to absorb this toxin and if they are high in the food chain they eat other contaminated fish and it becomes amplified in their tissues. That means the bigger the fish like marlin or shark the more toxins will be in it. This mechanism explains how all of the other toxins bio-accumulate as well such as DDT, and PCB’s. Bottom feeding fish will tend to have more PCB’s and other organic chemicals because they tend to settle to the bottom.

Even if your favorite fish is not on the above list it still probably contains enough mercury or flame retardant or something else to make it a restricted type fish for eating. All of these toxins will bio-accumulate so there is no free lunch. The less you eat, the less toxins will accumulate in your brain and fatty tissue.

The EDF had this to say about contamination with mercury and PCB’s:

  • It can take 5 years or more for women in their childbearing years to rid their bodies of PCBs, and 12-18 months to significantly reduce their mercury levels.
  • Mothers who eat contaminated fish before becoming pregnant may have children who are slower to develop and learn. Developing fetuses are exposed to stored toxins through the placenta.
  • Women beyond their childbearing years and men face fewer health risks from contaminants than children do. Following the advice below [see website] will minimize your exposure and reduce the health risks associated with these contaminants.
  • PCBs Increase Risk of Type 2 Diabetes[1] New research based on population analysis and PCB intake from fish has been surfacing directly linking PCB exposure to type 2 diabetes….This association is new and further research is needed to fully understand the connection, but the preliminary data is alarming.

The nice thing is that according to the EDF you can still enjoy canned albacore and canned light tuna. In the latter, even older children can eat up to 4 servings a month same for adults for both types. Go to for the complete list.

The two most popular types of canned tuna – white and light – vary greatly in their average mercury content.

  • Canned white tuna consists of albacore, a large species of tuna that accumulates moderate amounts of mercury. Therefore, Environmental Defense recommends that both adults and children limit their consumption of canned white tuna.[Adults 4 cans per month with less for kids].
  • Canned light tuna usually consists of skipjack, a smaller species with approximately one-third the mercury levels of albacore. Therefore, Environmental Defense recommends only that young children (ages 0-6) limit their consumption of canned light tuna. [Adults 4 cans per month].

A word of caution: Some canned light tuna reportedly contains yellowfin tuna, which has similar mercury levels to albacore. These products are sometimes (but not always) labeled ‘gourmet’ or ‘tonno’, and their consumption should be limited by adults and children.

Do the health benefits of omega 3 FA intake from fish offset the deleterious effects of PCB’s? That depends on if you like trading heart disease for cancer. If you don’t wish to do that then don’t eat contaminated fish. If you are still growing do not eat contaminated fish. If you are much older and don’t care go for it.

I remember eating plenty of farmed Atlantic salmon. In fact, I ate that stuff about 2-3 times a month for at least a year! It may be the single biggest health error I ever made too. I believe I became toxic on it. It turns out that most farmed salmon and some other farmed fish can be highly toxic and contaminated with dioxin and PCB’s. These substances are considered persistent environmental pollutants because they do not get broken down into non-toxic elements over time. There may be other pollutants too like lead or heavy metals in addition to mercury. Pesticides and antibiotics are abundant in many types of farmed fish now as well due to the overcrowded conditions necessitating their use.

In fact, farmed fish has turned into feed-lot fish the aquatic version of CAFO beef. Just great right? I agree. Not only that but to raise a farmed or penned fish it takes about 2.4-10 pounds of fish depending on your source, to make one pound of farmed fish. If the fish is carnivorous that means we need let’s assume 5 pounds of other fish to make one pound of commercial fish. That means that there are a lot of good sardines, anchovies, mackerel, herring and other fish getting ground up into salmon chow. It’s really insane because farming fish was supposed to ease overfishing instead it does just the opposite. If you do the math before you know it there won’t be any fish left to sustain this misadventure. Consider if they start using some type of grain substitute for fish protein in salmon chow. We will then have the exact duplicate of the CAFO cow, eating foods like grains that are foreign to its nature. Add in the pro-inflammatory fatty acid profile of grains and feed chock full of persistent organic pollutants- POP’s. If it comes down to this fish will end up a lot less of a healthy alternative to meat. Hence it is not a sustainable industry as it stands right now and is poised to collapse upon itself.


The Environmental Working Group found the levels of PCB’s in farmed salmon were almost 5 times higher than the upper limit set by the FDA for per week consumption. By the EPA standards which are more strict and honest Atlantic salmon should have a warning label issued stating that due to toxic levels of PCB’s DO NOT EAT MORE THAN 8 OZ PER MONTH.

The FDA sets standards of toxicity for farmed fish, the EPA sets standards for wild fish. While the two idiots who head their respective offices can’t come up with a universal toxicity threshold we end up not being warned at all. Nothing new here. It’s only cancer after all. Why should the FDA worry about some nobody dying of cancer when there are so many dollars to protect for Big Fish?

In a 2004 report Dr Ronald Hites professor of Public and Environmental Affairs Indiana University claimed:  “We think it’s important for people who eat salmon to know that farmed salmon have higher levels of toxins than wild salmon from the open ocean.” Their group recommends that consumers eat only 12-16 oz of farmed salmon per month. They found a whopping 14 persistent organochlorine compound…. toxins in the fish.[2] [Emphasis mine].

The environmental impact is alarming. Studies are showing that fish farms lead to dramatic declines in wild salmon populations, over 50%, in regions where wild salmon must swim by farming operations. The new study led by Ford and Myers is the first to illustrate on a global scale the highly detrimental impact of salmon farming on wild populations. [3] Farms in Vancouver, BC, one of the most pristine and beautiful places on earth, can hold up to 90,000 salmon per 100 x 100 foot pens. Some farms can grow over one million salmon per year. With 10-15 new farms expected to open each decade (from 2002) adding to the 91 currently operating we can anticipate the same environmental catastrophe as we have witnessed in Norway and Scotland which so depleted native species of salmon that the Norwegian government had to poison entire ecosystems in order to re-boot the entire thing.[4] How’s that working out for you?


One of the huge blowbacks from fish farms is the proliferation of deadly sea lice in the filthy, overcrowded, farmed populations described as “floating pig farms” by Daniel Pauly, professor of fisheries at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, which eventually kills all the juvenile fish. Unfortunately clouds of these sea lice latch on to natives as they swim by and end up killing off all of the native species as well. Fish wastes and uneaten feed smother the sea floor killing off the shellfish and bottom dwellers generating a dead zone. By some estimates, the salmon farms in British Columbia pump out as much fish feces as the human equivalent from a city of 500,000.[5] This is such an urgent threat that many scientists across Canada have written an open letter to the Canadian government urging them into action before the inevitable environmental catastrophe occurs wiping out all the native salmon species.[6]

As if that were not enough greed and payola will soon be introducing us to a new terror: the growth hormone churning freak-salmon. California voters tried unsuccessfully to get the FDA to require this new chimera to be labelled genetically modified. Surprised? Don’t be.


Recently, the prospect of genetically modified salmon that can grow six times faster than normal fish has heightened anxiety. Aqua Bounty Farms Inc., of Waltham, Mass., is seeking U.S. and Canadian approval to alter genes to produce a growth hormone that could shave a year off the usual 2½ to three years it takes to raise a market-size fish. Commercial fishermen and other critics fear that these “frankenfish” will escape and pose an even greater danger to native species than do the Atlantic salmon. “Nobody can predict just what that means for our wild salmon,” Alaska Gov.Tony Knowles said. “We do see it as a threat.”[7]


Not to mention the breeding of Atlantic Salmon in Pacific Salmon breeding waters which is kinda stupid. “It’s just crazy to let people raise farmed fish of the same [Atlantic] species if you have wild [Pacific] stocks nearby that you’re concerned about,” says Ray Hilborn, a fisheries biologist with the University of Washington. “If they interbreed, it’s a total disaster for the wild stocks.” Coincidentally, the United Nations has declared that the introduction of alien species is, after habitat loss, the greatest threat to global biodiversity. Yet salmon farmers still use Atlantic salmon in Pacific pens.[8]


Lastly the pigment used in farmed salmon canthaxanthin is manufactured by Hoffman-La Roche. The pharmaceutical company distributes its trademarked SalmoFan®, an actual fan with various shades similar to paint store swatches, so fish farmers can choose among shades of pink or red so as to mask the horrid grey the fish meat really is. This dye has been linked to causing retinal damage in those that take it as a sunless tanning pill. I am not sure why you would want to look pink or red however unless for Halloween you are going as a smoked cold cut.

The demand for seafood is only rising and will double by 2040 according to the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization. While stupid people everywhere continue to chow down on poisonous seafood I can only say please pay attention and help with the sustainable fisheries that are trying to make a difference.


[3] ( Citation: Ford JS, Myers RA (2008) A global assessment of salmon aquaculture impacts on wild salmonids. PLoS Biol 6(2): e33. doi:10.1371/journal.pbio.0060033

[6] (Environmental Communication Options (2007, September 19). Wild Salmon Endangered By Failure To Contain Sea Lice From Salmon ScienceDaily. Retrieved May 18, 2012, from­ /releases/2007/09/070919225321.htm)

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About the Author ()

Dr. Christopher Rasmussen (aka Reality Renegade) is the author of his upcoming book, "InflaNATION: Industrial Diners & A Doc In The Box." By deliberately avoiding harmful industrial foods and the Commercial Sick Care System with its Pills and Procedures paradigm, Dr Rasmussen cured himself of a deadly disease-which became the reason for writing this book. In the book, he provides the facts you must know and the solutions to regain your health, maintain wellness, and outlive your parents' generation in an extraordinarily toxic world.

Comments (2)

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  1. Great article. I had no idea about a number of serious issues you raised. I have to admit, fish farming sounded like a good idea to me. Now what. Is there a way to do it right or is is something that needs to be stopped completely? Do some of the same problems occur with other types of sea farming, oyster farms, for example?

    • Christopher Rasmussen MD, MS (aka "Reality Renegade") says:

      Hello Norm,
      My take on all of this is the damage is scale related. The bigger it gets the worse it is and bigger is always better in the corporate world. It seems whenever Man decides he can do it better than Nature where profits are more important than anything else we get into serious blowback. Blowback is a term the CIA uses when their escapades come back to haunt them in new unanticipated ways. The same holds true for aquaculture. But then only huge corporations are under the illusion that they really can outdo Nature. Some of these tanks may contain up to a million fish total. With that type of filth our poor oceans will never be able to cope. It’s doomed as a profitable business because we are eating up all of our healthy and precious small-food-chain fish like sardines and anchovies to feed our carnivorous high-end market fish like salmon. Rather than helping the global situation we are making it worse by literally destroying the food chain. As far as oyster farms go and some other shellfish farms they may be much better since they still at least with oysters haven’t figured out a way to compress them into tiny ocean feed lots. I also don’t want people to think all farmed fish are bad. Note in my series the companies that are trying to make a difference by producing environmentally sound aquaculture. These newer, cleaner operations are a huge improvement. Yet even they need to feed their fish other fish which is a problem. I suppose Industry’s solution will be to do what CAFO did for beef. Start feeding their carnivorous fish processed vegetarian grains and other junk-foods (the CAFO beef converse is feeding meat to vegetarians). My entire book documents one escapade after another where Man thought he could do it better with synthetics and every time we have been met with health destroying blowback sometimes in epic proportions like with our current criminal negligence, animal abuse and torture within confined animal feeding operations or CAFO for short. The story of CAFO is unbearable. In fact the book I am currently reading (The CAFO Reader), which goes deeper into the horror of CAFO than my mini-series did, is so sad and disturbing that I cannot read it for more than a few pages at a time.
      GMO’s are another.
      You think GM corn was bad? Has anyone thought what things will be like when wheat becomes GM? I have. For me it will be a time when I can no longer eat out anywhere for any reason and that fish sandwich staring at me from a menu becomes more like a pipe dream.

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