Salmon has quickly become a favorite seafood dish. Enjoyed for its distinct flavor and abundance of heart-healthy omega 3s, there are several native species of salmon throughout the chilly waters of the north Atlantic and Pacific. Shedd’s Fish of the Month, Wild Alaskan salmon, comes from a well-managed fishery and can be found on our “best choice” list for sustainability.

Unfortunately, not all salmon around the world have received such conservation-minded hospitality. The Atlantic salmon has declined dramatically throughout Europe, Eastern Canada and New England.  Salmon are anadromous, meaning they spend their lifetime in both freshwater and ocean saltwater. These migratory animals are more susceptible to habitat changes like dams or other aquatic obstructions to their migration patterns. These modifications, coupled with pollution and overfishing, have left dramatic effects on the health of Atlantic salmon populations.

Surprisingly, you can find Atlantic salmon at many retail stores and restaurants.  But that fish was probably not wild-caught; instead it was raised on a salmon farm. While certain species of farmed seafood are produced in eco-friendly ways, farmed salmon is not one of them.  Salmon are farmed in open-water netting systems in dense populations. All those fish create water pollution, eventually generating dead zones where other aquatic life cannot exist.

What a farmed fish eats also makes a big difference in its sustainability. Salmon are naturally carnivorous, meaning farmers must feed them up to three pounds of wild fish to grow just one pound of farmed salmon. With over 3 billion pounds of farmed salmon produced each year, that is a lot of weight taken from our oceans!

A simple switch to the robust populations of Wild Alaskan salmon can make a big impact. You can also look for Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) label which certifies a fish as sustainably-caught.  For your next summer barbeque, test out our Grilled Salmon Burgers with Chipotle Mayonnaise and share the salmon news with your guests!

Grilled Salmon Burgers with Chipotle Mayonnaise
Serves four

1 lb. Wild Alaskan salmon, skinless & finely diced
1/3 cup chopped cilantro 
2 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
2 eggs, lightly beaten
3 green onions, chopped
½ cup panko breadcrumbs
½ tsp. salt and ¼ tsp. pepper
¼ cup light mayonnaise
2 tbsp. finely chopped chipotle chilies in adobo sauce 
2 tsp. fresh lime juice
4 buns, lightly toasted

1. In separate bowl, mix salmon, cilantro, lemon, eggs, green onions, breadcrumbs,  salt & pepper
2. Shape burger mixture into four patties and refrigerate until ready to grill
3. In small bowl, stir together mayo, chilies, sauce and juice
4. Grease grill and heat to medium high. Gently place burger on grill and cook for 4 minutes on each side 
5. Plate salmon burgers on toasted buns and top with chipotle mayo, tomato and lettuce.

Posted by Brooke Havlik, conservation