Begich continues Alaska seafood fight

By Heidi Zemach for SCN

 

Visitors at Seward Resort pose with the wild fish they caught in, and around Resurrection Bay this summer. Heidi Zemach file photo.

Visitors at Seward Resort pose with the wild fish they caught in, and around Resurrection Bay this summer. Heidi Zemach file photo.

U.S. Senator Mark Begich no longer makes headway in one battle to win back acceptance for the Alaska seafood industry, than he finds himself battling the matter on still another front.

The Alaska Senator recently contacted Wal-Mart’s CEOs who sent company executives to meet with  Alaska seafood experts this week, and those they met with managed to convince them to continue to  purchase Alaska seafood for sale at their box stores across the U.S., even though they don’t use the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) criteria or label.

The   executives met yesterday (Thursday) with Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute   (ASMI), the Alaska Department of Commerce Commissioner, and Alaska Department of Fish and Game, the Alaska Congressional Delegation and representatives from the Governor’s office. Apparently, the company is open to changing its position that would have excluded the sale of fish from Alaska, which operates under its own strict standards.

“This is great news for Alaska’s jobs and economy and is also great news for consumers across the nation who will still be able to buy wild, fresh Alaska   seafood,” said Sen. Begich. “There were several positive developments from today’s meeting,” he added. “First, Wal-Mart has a better understanding of  Alaska fisheries management and has decided that promoting Alaska seafood is  the right thing to do.  Second, Wal-Mart is committed to making make sure Alaska seafood is available to customers for years to come and will schedule follow-up meeting to discuss how to move forward with this commitment.

But the fight rages on for Begich who also has called out the multi-national Sodexo Corporation on its new seafood purchasing policies, and engaged in a standoff on social-media with the CEO of Domino’s Pizza over a video ad that put down halibut.

Now comes Hollywood health guru and fitness trainer Harley Pasternak, with an article in People Magazine, August 21, 2013, that implies that farmed salmon may be better for you than wild salmon due to the mercury content in ocean-going fish. People Magazine article

Begich’s letter of response to Pasternak, dated September 5, 2013, describes the benefits of wild salmon over their “floating corncob” counterparts, and calls fish farms environmental polluters that feed their fish “crops” with genetically modified grains.  Here’s an excerpt from that letter:



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Why should consumers choose wild fish over farmed fish?

  1. Wild fish are more nutritious.  According to FDA studies, wild salmon have a 20 percent higher protein content than farm-raised salmon.
  2. Farm fish are “swimming corncobs.”  It’s believed that because of the use of grains rather than natural feed, levels of  heart-healthy omega-3 fats are about 50 percent lower in farmed salmon than in wild salmon.  Farmed salmon are sometimes referred to as “swimming corncobs.”
  3. Farm fish get sick—a lot.  Farm fish suffer from disease, lice and pests and are given antibiotics to combat disease.  Even with antibiotics, it is not uncommon for a large percentage of the farm fish ‘crop’ to die in captivity.
  4. Farm fish damages the environment.  Waste from fish farms pollutes. Experts estimate that salmon waste off the coast of British Columbia, for example, releases as much nitrogen as sewage from a city with a population of 250,000. Gross.
  5. Farm fish are couch potatoes. Instead of fighting against the raging currents  of glacially fed streams, evading predators, and “getting their spawn  on” like their wild cousins, farm fish are restricted to their farm fish tanks.  They don’t have to battle predators and raging waters or  even search for food. The farm fish just has to swim and eat—the  equivalent of an aquatic couch potato.

So if you like the taste of antibiotics and are a big fan of genetically modified food that harms the environment, then farm-raised fish are for you.

In   conclusion, Begich asked Pasternak to reconsider his views on farmed fish and instead “become an advocate for fresh, delicious, naturally-organic and sustainably caught wild Alaska seafood.”

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