06/09/2016 11:56 EDT | Updated 06/10/2017 05:12 EDT

Why You Need Wild Salmon (And Why It's Running Out)

There's a grim life or death struggle taking place in the Pacific Northwest, where most of Canada's salmon lives. Mounting scientific research paints a disturbing picture: Farmed salmon are threatening the very survival of their wild counterparts.

Keith Ridler/AP
** ADVANCE WEEKEND APRIL 7-8 ** This image provided by the Idaho Department of Fish and Game shows adult sockeye salmon, in spawning red colors, swimming in Idaho Department of Fish and Game's Eagle Fish Hatchery in Eagle, Idaho in 2000. These salmon, captured near central Idaho's Redfish Lake after making the 900-mile trip from the ocean, were artificially spawned with some of their offspring raised in the hatchery and the rest returned to the wild in subsequent years in an ongoing attempt to sustain the species.(AP Photo/Keith Ridler)

How much do you value your nutritional health? A little ... or a lot?

What if it was taken away from you? How much would you care then?

In other words, should your right to dine on inexpensive, store-bought wild salmon be worth defending?

I'm talking about a great Canadian dietary delicacy -- something that's particular prized these days because it's a protein that's super-lean, heart-healthy, drug-free, and antioxidant-rich.

Here's the problem: Supplies are running out. But it doesn't have to be this way. (More on this in a moment.)

Climate change is playing a role in this looming extinction. But that's not the only culprit. In fact, the biggest threat may be another man-made problem that should be much easier to solve. In a moment, I'll explain how you can be part of the solution.

Meanwhile, the gradual killing-off of wild Canadian salmon populations is having a devastating impact all the way up the food chain. Bears, eagles, wolves and orcas are just several iconic species that can go hungry - or even starve to death -- when there aren't enough salmon returning to spawning grounds.

It a terrible loss for people, too, because salmon is arguably the leanest and most nutritious kind of protein available to humankind.

Truth be told, there's a grim life or death struggle taking place in the Pacific Northwest, where most of Canada's salmon lives. Mounting scientific research paints a disturbing picture: Farmed salmon are threatening the very survival of their wild counterparts.

More specifically, they've exposed them to devastatingly lethal exotic diseases and equally deadly concentrations of parasitic lice that originate on salmon farms.

In recent years, tens of millions of wild salmon have died as a result of being exposed to this double-barreled onslaught, according to critics of the salmon farming industry. (This will be the focus of an upcoming blog entitled Why The Salmon You Eat Shouldn't Do Drugs.)

But you can stand up for wild salmon simply by saying "No" to farmed salmon. If you do, you'll be joining the many millions of consumers who already refuse to support this controversial, scandal-tainted aquaculture industry.

So how exactly would you personally lose out if the all-natural kind of salmon is eventually wiped out forever? Let me list the ways.

First of all, you'd lose out if you expect the salmon fillet you're barbecuing for dinner to be as nutrient-packed as Mother Nature intended it to be. Because it won't be if it's farmed.

You'd also lose out if you don't want your baked or seared fillet to be streaked with comparatively wide bands of fat. Because wild salmon is much leaner and heart-healthy than the farmed kind.

In fact, it contains up to 200% less saturated fat, and has higher amounts of brain-protecting essential fatty acids (including omega-3s which have powerful anti-inflammatory properties.)

You'd lose out yet again if the salmon sashimi you're enjoying at your favorite Japanese restaurant is the farmed variety. Because it'll likely contain far higher levels of potentially cancer-causing chemicals (including PCBs) than are found in wild salmon.

Finally, you'll lose out if you don't want to be associated with fish that do lots of drugs. Truth be told, farmed salmon swim around all day in a chemical stew (saturated with powerful antibiotics) within the confines of their aquatic cages. Which is where they're raised for the dinner table.

What's most contentious is the potential presence of antibiotic residues in the farmed salmon that may be on your dinner plate. In fact, the medical and scientific communities have become increasingly vocal in recent years about the health threats posed by antibiotic residues in livestock meat and fish.

They say this common form of dietary contamination poses a terrible threat: It may reduce or even negate the effectiveness of certain infection-fighting antibiotics that one day may be needed to save your life.

Now you know why the survival of wild Pacific salmon is so important to millions of health-conscious consumers, including the likes of you and me.

So do yourself and your family a favour -- eat wild salmon. It's not just a delicious and extraordinarily nutritious dinner choice. It's also a socially-conscious and environmentally-friendly gesture that shows you care about doing what's right.

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