The documentary Fillet-Oh-Fish by Nicolas Daniel reveals the horrible truth behind the fish farming industry!
The documentary contains exclusive footage from fish farms and factories around the world. Large-scale fish production is not what people think when you speak about fishing.
With the increase in demand for fish, the majority of the fish sold today now comes from fish farms. And this contributes to many problems such as overfishing, chemical pollution, genetic mutation, and toxic exposures. As seen by the producers of the film, “through intensive farming and global pollution, the flesh of the fish we eat has turned into a deadly chemical cocktail.”
Aquaculture serves as a sustainable answer to the overfishing problem we face. But the truth is, fish farms create more problems than they solve. There’s little difference, regarding environmental pollution, between land-based feedlots and water-based ones.
Farmed Salmon — One of the Most Toxic Foods in the World?
The salmon farms built around the Norwegian fjords destroy the ocean floor as they leave a layer of waste up to 15 meters high. And this waste is full of bacteria, drugs, and pesticides. Because fish farms are located in open water, the pollution they create cannot be controlled.
A salmon farm can have up to 2 million salmon in a relatively small area. These packed conditions result in disease, which spreads quickly among the stressed salmon. The salmon are stressed because they have no space to swim, explore, socialize, eat and defecate. They are obligated to stay in the same spot one next to the other without being able to move as they would in their natural habitat.
According to Oddekalv, Infectious Salmon Anemia Virus (ISA), Pancreas Disease(PD), and sea lice have increased all across Norway, and yet consumers are not informed of these fish pandemics.
Dangerous pesticides are applied to try to control these disease-causing pests, and one of the pesticides used is known to have neurotoxic effects. The farmed salmon of today is one of the most toxic foods in the world, according to Oddekalv.
Jerome Ruzzin, a toxicology researcher, has verified Oddekalv’s claims. He’s tested some different food products sold in Norway for toxins, and he found that farmed salmon is five times more toxic than any other food product tested.
In the lab, mice fed farmed salmon became obese with layers of fat in their organs. And the mice also developed diabetes.
Ruzzin records that a theory getting traction is that increasing rates of obesity is correlated with the rising number of toxins and pollutants we get exposed to the environment and the food.
Genetic Mutations and Other Facts
The pesticides used in the farmed fishes also affect the fish’s DNA, causing genetic mutations. According to Oddekalv, about 50 percent of farmed cod are deformed in this way, and the female cod that manage to escape from farms and mate with wild cod, end up spreading the deformities and genetic mutations into the native population of fishes.
It is harder to see this mutation in farmed salmon than in codfish, but it is equally disturbing. The meat of the farmed salmon is “brittle,” and breaks apart when bent, which is a highly abnormal feature.
The nutritional content of a wild salmon is 5 to 7 percent fat, and in the farmed salmon the fat content can vary anywhere from 14.5 to 34 percent.
Many toxins concentrate in the fat of the fish, which means that even if the farmed salmon were raised in similar conditions as wild salmon, the farmed ones would have more toxicity due to the elevated levels of fat in farmed salmon.
Research shows that the most significant source of toxic exposure is not the antibiotics or pesticides, but the dry pellet feed. Pollutants found in the fish feed include dioxins, PCBs, and some different drugs and chemicals.
What Makes the Fish Feed so Toxic?
In one Norwegian fish pellet plant, the main ingredient turns out to be the eel and other fatty fish from the Baltic Sea. Ans since pollution levels in the Baltic remain beyond sustainable levels, some of the fish used in the fish feed have toxic levels of pollutants too.
In Sweden, fishmongers are now obligated to advise patrons about the potential toxicity of Baltic fish. The government recommends that people should not eat fatty fish such as herring more than once a week. And pregnant women should avoid fish from the Baltic altogether.
Jan Isakson, a Swedish Greenpeace activist, explains the sources of all this pollution. Outside of Stockholm, there’s a massive paper mill on the bank of the Baltic that generates toxic dioxins.
Nine other industrialized countries surrounding the Baltic Sea also dump their toxic waste into this closed body of water. Dioxins bind to fat, which is why herring, eel, and salmon are particularly vulnerable and end up accumulating higher amounts than other fish.
Hidden And Dangerous Secrets of the Fish Industry
A huge problem comes from how pellets are made. They cook the fatty fish first, which results in two separate products: oil and protein meal. The oil part has significant levels of dioxins and PCBs, and the protein powder adds to the toxicity because, in the process, they add an “antioxidant” called ethoxyquin.
According to the documentary, this is one of the best-kept secrets of the fish food industry. Ethoxyquin was produced by Monsanto in the 1950s as a pesticide. The use of this chemical is extremely regulated, therefore why are they adding it to the fish pellets?
A Swiss anti-fraud laboratory, some years ago, was shocked to find remarkably high levels of ethoxyquin in farmed fish – around 10 to 20 times more than the 50 mcg per kilo allowed in food in the European Union. And this discovery began to unravel the secret.
Ethoxyquin was created for use on vegetables and fruits. However, the fish feed industry found another use for it because adding it to the feed of the fish, helped to prevent the fats from oxidizing and going rancid.
Others linked the secret use of ethoxyquin in Norwegian fish farming, and the lack of scientific investigation into its effects, to the Norwegian Minister of Fisheries and Coastal Affairs, Lisbeth Berg-Hansen. She also happens to be a considerable shareholder in a commercial salmon farm and has held many high-ranking positions within the fishing industry.
The Rise of Panga Exploited Fish Consumption
Farmed panga grow two to four times faster compared than those bred in the wild. This rapid growth enables them to reach adult size in around six months. The fish are then harvested and processed. Part of the processing includes washing the fillets in large vats loaded with water and polyphosphates — chemical additives that facilitate freezing.
The chemical forces the fish to soak up water. And this additional water adds artificial weight to the fish. At the end of this process, the fish loses both flavor and smell, meaning it takes on the character of any spices one adds to it when preparing.
Environmental Pollution Poses Risks
Many panga farms are plagued with disease because of the polluted waters where they grow. Mekong River, where many panga farms are located, is one of the most densely polluted rivers in the world. In 2009, the World Wide Fund for Nature placed panga on their “red” list of products that pose a danger to environmental and human health.
Millions of Vietnamese households dump their waste into the Mekong River each day. Pesticides used in rice cultivation also migrate into this waterway. Green algae and bacteria release toxins into the water and reduce oxygen levels in the water, which adds further stress to the fish’s immune systems, making them more prone to disease.
To attack the disease, farmers add drugs like antibiotics into their fish ponds. The side effect is drug resistance. And it forces farmers to continue increasing the dosages. This dangerous strategy affects more than the panga. Antibiotics spread through the river systems. The fish absorbs them via its skin tissue and excretes them through feces. This cycle redistributes the drugs into the environment — and to people who eat the fish.
Are You Eating Fish or Fish Waste?
Practically nothing goes to waste anymore. The cosmetic industry uses recycled fish skins. And the remainder gets washed and ground into a pulp, which food producers use to make cheap meals and pet food.
Food manufacturers have no obligation to tell you about the contents of their fish products. Therefore your “tasty” fish bites might contain filthy fish pulp rather than actual fish fillet meat. Why? Becuase fish pulp generates much higher profits. Something companies care more about than people (in most cases).