What Is Organic Salmon? (The Truth!)

What Is Organic Salmon

With the rise in organic considerations in our modern-day diets, what actually is “organic” salmon? And is it worth it?

What’s The Deal With Organic Salmon?

Salmon is one of those fish that have always been hailed as the “King Of The River.” With its ruby-red flesh and its incredible skills of swimming (or leaping!) upstream to breed and spawn, there is no doubt that salmon has some quirky features that most other fish do not possess!

Salmon are carnivorous fish, meaning they feed on other smaller fish as their primary food source and potentially travel thousands of miles in their lifetime, from freshwater sources as youngsters then out to sea as adults.

The salmon, or sometimes referred to as the “Atlantic salmon,” is part of the family of fish that are deemed “oily” fish due to the number of omega oils that are present within its body. The natural oils these fish possess have so many benefits to human health, and apart from tasting amazing, the salmon can also be incredibly beneficial to health.

Atlantic salmon can be found in clear UK rivers in places such as Wales, Scotland, and up and down the west of the UK, and they love to live in clear freshwater with a flowing current, as they habitually and instinctively swim upstream to breed and spawn.

But can a wild fish ever be classed as organic?

What Makes Wild Salmon Organic?

Well, this is something that producers and consumers can never guarantee, as the wild salmon will behave precisely as they please when they are in their natural environment!

There is no control over what they consume or, indeed, how “organic” the environment they live in is.

Wild salmon stocks in freshwater rivers in the UK are in decline, and this could be for many reasons, such as:

  • Atmospheric pollution
  • Poaching
  • Reduced breeding seasons and interference
  • Human influences on their habitat, such as building and direct water pollution

Of course, you would imagine that salmon that has been living in its own environment would be as pure and organic as the driven snow (because it is the most natural thing for them to do).

Still, a declaration of the fish being organic can’t be made if there are any uncertainties over its standards.

There are never any guarantees that a wild salmon has consumed everything organic itself (why would it know, it’s a salmon!) or indeed that the water they live in is classified as an organic habitat, simply because it is a public entity and can not be controlled.

Wild salmon may not have pesticide intervention to reduce lice and disease in the fish, but in this case, you are then playing jeopardy with the sustainability of the breed; but in the wild, there is no intervention.

Is Farmed Salmon Organic?

Of course, there is the option of farmed Salmon.

Farmed salmon is managed to make sure that Atlantic salmon stocks remain sustainable for human consumption needs.

They are held in nets in mainly ethical conditions (for the fish) to ensure that the fish are happy and have the best conditions possible to breed and do what they do naturally. However, the farming conditions for the wider environment can be less than ethical, including building in a wild environment and continual human interference.

Salmon Farming Organic

When it comes to farmed salmon in these circumstances, we can, of course, see that their heavy stock management is made to make the salmon more sustainable as a breed, but certainly not “organic” when put it against an organic chicken, for example, and here’s why:

Wild Water Quality Can Never be Wholly Organic
what we mean by this is that the farmed Salmon is still part of the wider sea even when farmed, so there are never any guarantees over the water status being classified as organic. It is doubtful it ever can be!

There is No Control Over Localised Pollutants
The sea is a huge span of water, and many millions of people use it for leisure, freight, and transportation. While we can reduce the global effect of water pollution, we can never stop it.

There is No Guarantee of What the Fish Has Eaten
The food provided for the Salmon in farmed scenarios can, of course, be regulated, monitored, and given the highest quality markers to ensure the fish are getting the best of the best. However, there is no guarantee over the food they are given coming from organic sources (with similar scenarios to the Salmon!), and there can be no control on what the fish eats that may enter its net!

Necessary Use Of Pesticides
There is the need for farmed Salmon to have pesticides included in their care to protect the stock from dangerous diseases and bugs that may harm the fish stocks, and this is something that the term “Organic” conflicts with.

Surely this goes against what “organic” stands for?


With so much consideration to welfare and purity when it comes to organic statuses, we can see here that the welfare of farmed salmon may be both sustainable and somewhat ethical, but which you may consider far away from “organic.”

The problem with classifying wild fish as organic is their high capability of movement, mixing shoals and breeds, and moving through many water bodies; it is almost impossible to pin down exactly where the fish has been and exactly what the fish has eaten.

Farmed salmon may indeed narrow this down as their movement is restricted and workers can control their food to a certain degree, but the water they live in may never be classed as organic simply because it is too vast and too variable ever to do so.

So, next time you hear someone say, “this is organic salmon,” I’d seriously question why they think this is the case!

It doesn’t make the fish any less delicious for your health, but it does put a big question mark over whether salmon, either wild or farmed, can ever be considered as “organic”; the variables are just too vast to pin down.

Stacy F

Stacy is a UK Based lifestyle writer who writes in the food and nutrition niches, as well as within the health and wellness sectors. She is a mum of 4 and married to a musician, so sustainability and a pinch of humour are absolutely essential to get over every one of life's obstacles!

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