Advertisement
Food by VICE

Salmon Prices Are Skyrocketing Thanks to a 'Sea Lice' Epidemic

According to the delicious-sounding NASDAQ Salmon Index, salmon prices have gone up by 13.51 percent in the last 12 weeks.

by Nick Rose
Jan 27 2017, 4:00pm

Photo via Flickr user Delphone Sindynata

It's not just land-dwelling agricultural invaders that are becoming immune to pesticides.

The same issue is plaguing salmon farmers around the world, and it's driving up the price of your salmon sashimi—by a lot.

According to the delicious-sounding NASDAQ Salmon Index, Norwegian salmon prices have gone up by 13.51 percent in the last 12 weeks. That might sound like a faraway problem, but the reality is that Norway is the world's largest salmon producer and this jump is on top of last year's 40 percent increase in price.

This dramatic price change is largely the result of an outbreak of sea lice feeding on the tissue and blood of salmon. Yummy!

And to make matters worse, TIME reports, those parasites are becoming immune to aquaculture pesticides.

READ MORE: Salmon Raised on Land Could Be the Future of Seafood

And things aren't much better in Chile—the world's second biggest producer of salmon—where algae killed 135,000 tons of salmon last year alone, despite rampant use of antibiotics by farmers there.

With farmed salmon living in crowded spaces, in such close proximity to each other, it's not surprising that disease spreads like wildfire. But with farmers now less and less capable of relying on antibiotics and pesticides, many are left with no choice but to let nature take its course and wreak havoc on their stocks. And that's not to mention the environmental and climate issues that they have to contend with as well.

Because of this huge hit on the supply side, prices will continue rise unless future generations of salmon find more effective treatments for these issues.

In the meantime, expect your gravlax and tartare indulgences to only get more indulgent, as most salmon in North America actually comes from farms in the waters in and around Norway and Chile.

This is bad news for farmers, consumers, and, of course, salmon. But it could be good news for the purveyors of land-raised salmon, like Kuterra farms in British Columbia, who can control all of the parameters of salmon farming and water in their enclosures. Silver linings?