Wild Isles Salmon is not a wild salmon, but they are working to get as close as possible.  Farmed salmon is a necessity on our planet, there simply isn’t enough wild salmon to feed the demand.  There are many “Bad” salmon farms that don’t deserve your business, and we hope that these farms will change their ways because consumers are educated and make good buying decisions.  Wild Isles is a zero-waste farm practicing aquaculture techniques believed to have positive changes on fish health, human health, and the health of the surrounding ecosystem.  As Jacques Cousteau said, “We must start using the seas as farmers instead of hunters.  That is what civilization is all about – farming replacing hunting”.

Farmed vs Wild is always a hot topic, and it is important to make sure that we don’t generalize with statements like, “wild fish is better than farmed fish”.  It simply isn’t true.  Farmed fish are the most sustainable protein on the planet.  They don’t consume water like plants and land animals, they don’t fight gravity and are cold blooded – making them energy efficient and faster growing that land animals, plus farmers don’t need to clear an area of native species to begin fish farming.

Mapurefish-0875ny of us eat, serve, sell, or buy farmed salmon.  There are many factors to consider besides price.  The reality is that you should consider paying a little more money to serve a better farmed salmon.  Here are some important things to consider: Antibiotics, Artificial Coloring, Fish Feed, Sea Lice, Fish Waste (poop), location of the farm, and water quality.

Antibiotics is simple.  When any animal gets sick, antibiotics are used to kill the disease.  If there is no use of antibiotics, it means that the fish are not getting sick and have a proven track record of remaining healthy thru the lifecycle of the farm.  Wild Isles is antibiotic free.  When you see antibiotic free, think healthy fish! Healthy food!

Artificial Coloring is NOT a die added to the fish flesh to make it look pretty.  The FDA requires that any fish containing the synthetic compound astaxanthin be labeled as “artificially colored”.   In wild salmon, it is the natural diet of shrimp and fish which give the fish pink, orange, or red flesh.  Shrimp, fish, carrots, algae and fungi have beta carotenes, and the specific beta carotene known to give color change is called astaxanthin.   You can pick-up astaxanthin at most vitamin stores but there are two types, natural, and synthetic.  It is common practice for farms use the synthetic compound made of the same chemical formula as the natural astaxanthin.  Some argue that the isomers within the chemical formula do not break down completely in both fish and humans.  Natural astaxanthin breaks down into vitamin A and has anti-oxidant type of properties.  What this all means is that if farmed fish says “artificial coloring”, it translates to your body not getting all of the health benefits as a wild salmon.

purefish-0595 (1)Wild Isles feed is in the form of a pellet containing fish, shrimp, and a natural occurring bacteria commonly found in soil called panaferd ax.  Wild Isles believes that the natural sources of beta carotene are healthier for the fish, the people who consume the fish, and results in a more natural flavored salmon.  This is also a GMO free feed, as all ingredients are found in nature.  They are also a zero-waste farm, which means that the fish and shrimp used to feed their salmon come as a bi-product to commercial processing for human consumption.  This is a great use of resources.  One of the major factors of fish farming is the source of protein that is needed to feed farmed fish.  If we capture fish from our wild oceans for the purpose of feeding farmed fish, we will eventually continue to deplete the ocean of its resources – which is exactly what we are trying to avoid by farming fish.

Sea Lice is a common problem for fish farmers as wild fish can normally avoid a swarm of sea lice by swimming away.  As sea lice passed thru a farm it will attach to salmon and use them as a host.  Many farms will use antibiotics to fend off sea lice and the diseases that can come from an infestation.  Wild Isles uses a unique and natural response, predation.  They stock a native species called a lumpsucker into the pens as a natural predator that is aggressive enough to eat the sea lice right off the salmon.  This acts as a sort of cleaning station for the salmon.

Animal droppings are a common management issue on fish farms.  Wild Isles has partnered with other companies to help manage their waste in a way that promotes a healthy environment.  Farmers down current are raising mussels and kelp that aid in filtering out phytoplankton, zooplankton, and undissolved particulate matter released from the fish or uneaten fish food.  This type of environment is called multi-trophic aquaculture, and we hope that it will be common practice in the future.

The location of the Wild Isles farm is within the Shetland Islands of Scottland with an ocean current moving at 5-20 knots.  The current in this area acts as a conveyor belt within the muti-trophic environment.   Downstream of the Wild Isles salmon farm are mussel farmers who grow a higher yielding filter feeding organic mussels that is available year-round.  The kelp farmers are last in line to finish the lifecycle of organic matter which returns the environment back into one of pristine nature.  The swift currents of the Shetland Islands also keep the salmon constantly swimming, similar to wild salmon.  This makes for a leaner and healthier fish whose fat content is closer in relation to wild salmon than farmed.

Give Wild Isles farm raised salmon a try!

​Chad Pettrone
Sustainability Director
Northeast Seafood