TIME Magazine Editors Forget to Research Salmon Story

A recent column in Time about farmed salmon appears to have attracted little or no editorial oversight as it was rife with inaccuracies masquerading as opinion.

This is not the first time this once vaunted publication has botched reporting on seafood. The hit parade started in 2010 —Taking The Time To Get The Story Rightwith more in 2015 — TIME magazine continues to fail its readers, another in 2016 — Seriously… what is wrong with Time Magazine? And again in 2017 Reporting on Reporters: Time Magazine.

Below, you can read a letter to Time’s editors from the National Aquaculture Association, it is a fact-based refutation of the story but should also serve as a very clear warning to other publications to do their homework before printing hyperbolic rhetoric without genuine review.

July 22, 2022 

Edward Felsenthal 

Editor-in-Chief and CEO 

Time Magazine 

RE: Salmon Wars authors replace facts with fiction in their fishy look at salmon farming 

Dear Mr. Felsenthal: 

Authors Catherine Collins and Douglas Frantz have an opinion. That is, salmon is a bad for you and bad for the planet. They ask that it be removed from your menu. They are entitled to their opinion. 

With TIME publishing this opinion, it asks the question: “Is Farmed Salmon Healthy and Sustainable?” 

Ms. Collins and Mr. Frantz clearly say no. However, professionals in the fields of nutrition, health, and ecology say yes. National health authorities worldwide and trusted dieticians suggest including oily fish like salmon regularly in your diet. Registered professional biologists and marine ecologists ensure salmon farms exceed the strict regulations and third-party certifications that are in place to protect the environment around a farm. Licensed veterinarians care for salmon daily. 

There is a war being waged against science by activists that would prefer decisions be based on politics, anecdotes and shameless misrepresentations and the authors deliver on this approach by basing their arguments on false factoids pulled from the news or discredited old studies in place of real facts. Here are just a few examples: 

FALSE: Salmon are raised in “crammed” cages. 

FACT: Salmon are grown in sea cages that contain less than 4% fish and more than 96% water. 

FALSE: Salmon are “doused with antibiotics”. 

FACT: Salmon are raised with little or no antibiotics under the watch of veterinarians. Farmers have a stewardship responsibility to care for the animals they raise. Farm-raised salmon receive the least medicines out of all the most popular animal proteins we buy at the grocery store. 

FALSE: “A single meal per month exceeds contaminant levels set by the World Health Organization”. 

FACT: Farm-raised salmon is very low in contaminants and meets or exceeds standards established by the Food and Drug Administration and the World Health Organization. Salmon is one of the world’s best sources of heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids and is welcome on the menu of every G7 country, the European Union and across North America. 

FALSE: “A toxic stew [under farms] drives away marine life”. 

FACT: Salmon farmers know that pristine marine cage conditions are essential for high-quality salmon. Farm locations are carefully selected to ensure the ocean bottom is protected from significant nutrient loading by placing the farm in deep and fast-moving water. Farmers use underwater cameras to properly disperse feed, they carefully monitor the ocean bottom, and, like a farmer’s field, sites are given time to rest before being used again. 

FALSE: “Salmon die at a rate of 15 percent, much worse than 5 percent for chickens.” 

FACT: Wild salmon have a 5% survival rate. Farm-raised salmon have an 85% survival rate over the two-year period in which they are raised. Broiler chickens live for less than two months before being placed on a rotisserie, making this comparison a misrepresentation at best. 

Ms. Collins and Mr. Frantz feel that farm-raised salmon is a new fish and an “industrialized imposter”. This would describe 100% of the farmed food products we eat that have, over centuries, replaced wild foods because nature could not keep up with growing demand. It is now very clear that overfishing can effectively strip our oceans empty. Fisheries management is improving and there are many examples of sustainable fisheries around the world. 

Aquaculture will not replace sustainable fisheries but it is a logical and responsible response to help meet demand locally and globally.

Demand for healthy seafood is increasing year on year and the United States imports 85% of its seafood from abroad running a $17 billion seafood trade deficit. Aquaculture will be an answer to keeping Americans well fed and healthy. 

Consumers have the right to choose what foods they eat. They also have the right to expect “investigative journalists” to do the homework needed to present them with fact, not fiction. 

We invite you and your staff to visit Maine where Atlantic salmon has been farmed in coastally located net pens since the 1970s. Current production occurs at 26 farm sites all located within state waters (3 miles from land). Annual production ranges from 33 million to 39 million pounds. Farms are regulated under the Clean Water Act, comply with the National Pollution Discharge Elimination System permit, do not utilize any antibiotics or hormones as growth promoters, conduct and report environmental effects, and have not experienced an escape of fish since 2003. All farms are monitored regularly by a number of regulatory and resource management agencies and are certified by environmental certification programs that establish operating standards above those required by law. 

If you would like additional information about a Maine tour or marine aquaculture in the United States, please contact us at your convenience. 


Sebastian Belle