Wednesday, August 15, 2018

A Salmon is Not Always a Salmon

If you’re eating salmon and you’re thinking it is all very fishy – you may just be right! 

A salmon is not always a salmon. Not in China anyway. 

In that country, rainbow trout (left) can now be labelled and sold domestically as salmon. 

It seems that in May this year, state media CCTV had revealed that a third of fish that had been sold as salmon in China was in fact rainbow trout from Qinghai province. Meaning, the rainbow trout had for years been labelled as the similar-looking fish. 

The rainbow trout fillet does look remarkably similar to a salmon fillet. ISTOCK 

Authorities decided that instead of outlawing the practice – the next best thing to do is to legitimise it. 

So, the China Aquatic Products Processing and Marketing Alliance announced that salmon is now considered to be the "umbrella name of the salmonidae fish". 

That's a scientific ‘family’ category which includes trout as well as other similar fish like the grayling and whitefish. 

Rainbow trout (Scientific name: Oncorhynchus mykiss; family: Salmonidae) are freshwater fish whereas salmon (Family: Salmonidae; subfamily: Salmoninae) are born in freshwater but then live much of their lives in saltwater. 

FYI, salmon are native to tributaries of the North Atlantic and Pacific Ocean – but many species have been introduced into non-native environments such as the Great Lakes of North America and Patagonia in South America and salmon are intensively farmed in many parts of the world. 

Whether you know it or not, most salmon sold in the US are farmed Atlantic salmon. Salmon sold as “wild” salmon are actually Pacific salmon. 

Sadly, most wild Atlantic salmon stocks were wiped out or severely depleted years ago by over-fishing – but it is claimed that in a few places, these wild stocks are recovering. 

Atlantic and Pacific salmon both belong to the family Salmonidae – but the latter belong to the genus Oncorhynchus while the former (Salmo salar) are the largest members of the genus Salmo (see picture).

In fact, Atlantic salmon are more closely related to certain species of trout, such as brown trout (Salmo trutta), than they are to Pacific salmon. 

Does it really matter if it is salmon or rainbow trout? After all, a fish is a fish is a fish.

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