Why I Don’t Eat Faroe Island Salmon

Some of the best salmon in the world comes from Alaska and other parts of the Pacific Northwest. Likewise, some of the best salmon hails from the cold waters bordering Norway, Iceland and Scotland. But while I will eat salmon and other seafood from some producers in the North Atlantic, I will not, under any circumstance, eat salmon from the Faroe Islands. (Yes, this is going to be an opinionated post—but I assure you, it’s a well-thought and well-researched opinion at that.)

A few weeks ago, I was visiting a restaurant (that will go unnamed) that’s recently gotten a lot of attention for its innovative menu. The owners have cultivated their dishes from local purveyors and truly use fresh, seasonal ingredients to make some outstanding dishes. But … they also serve salmon. Salmon that’s listed as “Faroe Island Salmon.”

Why? Why in the name of all that’s good would they serve Faroe Island salmon? Yes, it is a divine fish. The flavor is superior compared to many others, but, anyone that knows anything about the whaling in the Faroe’s should be appalled.

Do not eat Faroe Island salmon!

The gist … the islanders have been slaughtering pilot whales, a large oceanic dolphin, for over a thousand years—it’s part of their culture. I get it. But they used to literally survive on the meat and blubber. Nowadays, with the awareness of high mercury levels and the ghastly affects too much mercury can have on one’s health, it’s recommended to eat this type of meat no more than twice a month. That’s it. And yes, many of the islanders insist the animals don’t suffer … they use a technique (you can Google it) that supposedly kills them almost instantly, but many onlookers disagree and claim it often takes well over 20 minutes for death to set it in … and remember, these are smart animals. They know what’s happening to them. They know.

And they don’t need the meat to survive. One of the largest salmon farms in the world is in the Faroes … eat salmon. It’s better for you! And for everyone else.

The first time I saw the pictures, I was horrified. Beyond horrified. I instantly had a sinking feeling in my gut like I would vomit. I’m not going to post the photos here. Again, you can Google them if you want. But understand that doing so will leave an imprint on your brain that you will never let go.

What can you do? What can we do?

First, don’t support restaurants or grocers that sell Faroe Island salmon. Costco, a onetime seller of Faroe Island salmon, recently stopped purchasing from the region … although the company says it “expresses no view on activities of the citizens of Faroe that are unrelated to our product sourcing,” it was under pressure to do so from conservation group The Sea Shepherd and many consumers and Hollywood celebs alike. So way to go Costco.

And don’t be afraid to question those that sell Faroe Island salmon because, “The natives there have lived off the ocean for centuries, have a deep respect for its health, and are committed to sustainability and sound stewardship of the environment.” Ummm? What?

Secondly, there are petitions floating around the internet you can sign, but in all truthfulness, I don’t know that the Kingdom of Denmark is overly concerned with what the rest of us think. So the best thing you can do, is don’t buy the product. The Faroe Island fisheries are big business … if they start to lose business because people don’t care for their dolphin slaughter, then perhaps they’ll change their ways.

Note, latest population counts show that pilot whales are in no danger of extinction—still, though some argue this in turn means the Faroe Island slaughter is sustainable, I would argue that it most definitely is not. There is more to sustainability than depleting resources.

Thoughts?

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