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.


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Hey there. I’m Shauna—a West Coast transplant in the landlocked state of Indiana … when I moved here I missed the beaches, the mountains, the desert, the rivers … and it took me a while to find places nearby that paralleled my old stomping grounds. BUT. Now that I’ve lived here for over 15 years, I’ve had time to explore the region and you know what? It’s amazing. There’s so much to do—from skiing in northern Michigan to relaxing lakeside in southern Kentucky to rocking the nightlife in one of the many metropolitan areas. And I love it here. I really do. BUT. I do miss the sea … and the sand and the rush of the waves … the smell of seawater … even the sting of too much sun after a day spent lollygagging at the beach. And I miss the constant supply of seafood and shellfish and riverfish? About that … since I’ve moved to the Midwest I’ve noticed that a lot of people here don’t consider fish that come from the river seafood … I’m not sure I agree, but hence the new word I’ve created, “riverfish” … time will tell if Webster picks it up ; ) So this little blog is my way of bringing a little bit of sea life (or is it sealife?) to the Midwest. Here you’ll find all kinds of information … some that you might find more useful than others—like where to find the best seafood (and riverfish) in the Midwest. And some, you might just find amusing … or not. Either way, and if nothing else, I hope you leave my little space here on the world wide web a little refreshed and maybe even a little inspired to bring a little bit of the ocean home with you. (Yes, I did use the word “little” four times in one sentence … it’s OK … mermaids like to repeat themselves.) Cheers! The Midwest Mermaid Oh, and if your curious, yes, I do actually write for a living … if you want to know about the organizations I work with and the publications where you can find my land legs, swim on over to the “Portfolio” tab … and thanks for visiting.

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