Yesterday's New York Times featured an eloquently urgent op-ed about the demise of wild Pacific salmon. The author, Taras Grescoe, is swearing off salmon for two simple reasons: "it's too scarce and too expensive." While wild Atlantic salmon are already commercially extinct, the commercial Chinook season in California and most of Oregon has been canceled for the first time in 160 years.
Grescoe reports that the collapse of the wild salmon population has no single cause, with many contributing factors, including degrading habitat, overfishing, global warming (higher water temperatures prevent eggs from maturing), infectious salmon anemia, and sea lice, among others.
But an important cause that the author fails to include is the loss of Chinook salmon as bycatch. Industrial trawlers catching pollock and whiting kill Chinook salmon by the thousands in this manner, a practice that Oceana is working to put a cap on.
Hold on, though: You don't have to quit your habit "cold salmon", so to speak, as Grescoe implies. There are still healthy and sustainable wild Chinook salmon runs in Alaska, just be prepared to shell out $40/pound at the seafood counter. Plus, the good news is that there are still many sustainable wild salmon fisheries for the pink, sockeye (red), silver (coho), and chum varieties -- and these are more reasonably priced, too.
Grocery store shelves are also stocked with cheaper farmed salmon, but the fish are likely to contain pesticides that are used to kill sea lice (and that are not tested by the FDA). Thanks, but no thanks.
For a list of salmon alternatives, check out our MiniGuide to Ocean Friendly Seafood.