Why is salmon farming such an object of infinite greed? One of the reasons is the presumed rich source of omega-3-fatty acids in salmon.
Although omega-3 fatty acids (n-3) have been known as essential to normal growth and health since the 1930s, awareness of their health benefits – and thus their demand – has dramatically increased since the 1990s. But mammals – including humans – cannot synthesize n−3 fatty acids, one of the reasons why we – the older generation – were given (horribly tasting) cod liver supplements in our childhood.
Some of the important and well known omega-3 fatty acids are:
- EPA: eicosapentaenoic acid, 20 carbons and 5 double bonds
- DHA: docosahexaenoic acid, 22 carbons and 6 double bonds
- ALA: α-linolenic acid, 18 carbons and 3 double bonds
In 2004 the U.S. Food and Drug Administration gave “qualified health claim” status to EPA and DHA n−3 fatty acids, stating that “supportive but not conclusive research shows that consumption of EPA and DHA fatty acids may reduce the risk of coronary heart disease.”
The supplementation of Omega-3 might be beneficial in cases of
- certain circulatory problems, such as varicose veins
- high blood pressure
- rheumatoid arthritis
- cardiac arrhythmias
- high blood triglyceride levels
Their regular intake may reduce the risk of secondary and primary heart attack.
They can be helpful in cases of depression and may delay or prevent the progression of certain psychotic disorders in high-risk children and adolescents.
They possess possible anti-cancer effects.
After herring and sardine [1.3–2 grams omega-3] and Spanish mackerels [1.1–1.7 grams omega-3], Atlantic and Pacific salmon is a valuable source of omega-3 (EPA and DHA) [1.1–1.9 grams]. Some seeds like perilla, chia, flax (linseed) and hemp contain high amounts of omega-3 (ALA) while cereals, bread, vegetables contain none. Fish oils are sometimes added to diets of chicken to increase the n-3 fatty acid concentrations in eggs.
Sounds like a license to print endless amounts of money. Sounds tempting and easy to achieve in the (seemingly) endless waters of our blue planet.
BUT – the other side of the coin shows: farmed salmon is poor in valuable omega-3 and
- it is full of fat soluble chemicals like PCBs which are used to paint and protect the cages from corrosion and which are omnipresent in the sea water anyway
- it is rich in antibiotics (which are used in high amounts to make them survive in salmon-unfriendly environments)
- it is contaminated with pharmaceuticals from vaccines (like the one given to humans against cholera)
- it is contaminated with chemicals to wash off sea lice and other parasites very harmful to salmon
- it is polluted with a red dye to make the pale flesh look like wild salmon
- it is rich in stress hormones and the likes from a “life” in cages, in too warm water and a much too dense population
So this Omega-fairy tale reminds more of another omega: In the Book of Revelation, it reads “I am the Alpha and Omega, the first and the last.” (verses 1:8, 21:6, and 22:13).
This meaning of omega is found in the fact that alpha (Α) and omega (Ω) are respectively the first and last letters of the Classical (Ionic) Greek alphabet. This would be similar to referring to someone in English as the “A and Z”. ‘Omega’ also means ‘the end’.
The GREED to ‘harvest‘ unhealthy omega-3 must not lead to three serious omegas like those to be seen in other places where this particular global player which is applying to exploit Bantry Bay left DEVASTATION, DISEASE and DEATH (of diving workers servicing the salmon tanks).