Food News

Scared of Rising Salmon Prices? Stick These Fish on a Dish Instead

January 24, 2017

Yesterday, Quartz reported that salmon prices are about to surge across the globe. It's all due to a pretty gnarly infestation of lice that began in Scotland and Norway, the latter of which is the world’s most fertile producer of salmon. Now, the lice outbreak has ballooned to produce a global salmon shortage, resulting in a price hike for salmon in grocery stores. I'm afraid it doesn't show signs of slowing down. As these swarms of lice are ravaging salmon prices, they're proving dangerously difficult to curb for salmon farmers, too, who've begun to seek solace in synthetic pesticides and de-lousing “lumpsucker” fish as deterrents for the outbreak. None of these options have worked well.

Sucks for salmon lovers, right? Well, one solution for salmon-hungry consumers is to just wait this lice infestation out, eliminate salmon from your diet for the time being, and hope for the best. Another is to get more frugal about your salmon shopping, eating it less regularly, or identifying special occasions on which you can consume it. Or, you could just eat other fish that’s even cheaper than salmon.

There's an endless bounty of options, really. Anchovies and frozen fish sticks; tuna and sardines. Consider, too, bluefish, catfish, cod, herring, mackerel, tilapia. Even if you're someone who normally swears by salmon, these recipes may be enough to carry you (and your wallet) over until this infestation dies down. Whenever that happens.

Have a favorite dish with a fish that doesn't cost too much? Let us know in the comments.

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • Zilbergrub
  • tina salmon
    tina salmon
  • Mariana Howe Nelson
    Mariana Howe Nelson
  • ChefJune
  • Winifred Ryan
    Winifred Ryan
Mayukh Sen is a James Beard Award-winning food and culture writer in New York. His writing has appeared in the New York Times, the New Yorker, Bon Appetit, and elsewhere. He won a 2018 James Beard Award in Journalism for his profile of Princess Pamela published on Food52.


Zilbergrub January 30, 2017
I'd like to know more about these outbreaks. How do they affect the fish? Does it render their meat inedible for humans? Could we catch the lice?
tina S. January 29, 2017
My husband is a commercial fisherman in Alaska and I can honestly say that this article was not well thought out...was there even five minutes of research done on this? We would never recommend farmed fish period. Pesticides, antibiotics, poor food, overcrowding in pens, hence the diseases....which also carry over to wild fish from crossover in FACT, carry over of disease from farmed fish to wild fish is a HUGE problem. fish are not supposed to live this way...why would you choose to eat this.... wild salmon in the state of Alaska is highly sustainable due to tight management. My husband fishes in a limited entry permit fishery that has extremely high standards, plus the waters are clean. The fish itself is the healthiest you could put on your plate yet you encourage people to "wait out" the disgusting lice epidemic...disgraceful! Chef June...good job recommending that are being decimated in our oceans as an alternative...tapeworms are here, have always been here and are not "crossing the ocean" . Canneries pass cod under a blue light to check for tapeworms...this has been going on for 20+ years. People, check your facts please and eat wild salmon.
Mariana H. January 29, 2017
As much as I love seafood, i have pretty much eliminated most fish from my diet due to concerns of over fishing and pollution.
ChefJune January 25, 2017
A problem has also been reported with Wild Alaska Salmon - a tapeworm previously only found in Japanese fish has crossed the ocean and is infecting the salmon. So this pretty much negates salmon as a menu option for now. I'm very sad. However, you should also always be aware that tuna and swordfish - no matter how meaty and delicious - are both quite high in mercury. Particularly women of child-bearing age and children should be very careful how much of these fish they eat. Shark is also in that category.
Winifred R. January 24, 2017
I'm sorry to say that you're also recommending going to fish that are not plentiful. As a Ph.D. in marine policy specialized in fisheries, you are seeing problems is farmed fish and recommending cod which while in some areas is a sustainably fished species, is not in all cases. Sardines are also challenged in some areas. I'd recommend seeing what is fresh and local. US fisheries are generally sustainable (check with NOAA or your state for which fish are overfished, I've found Monterey Bay Aquarium's list to be outdated at times.)
Jan W. January 24, 2017
I would never wish for a problem like this to plague the salmon industry, but Atlantic salmon fisheries in Europe and North America have been severely affected by parasites and viruses several times before. Not only that, but outbreaks of sea lice, and previously infectious salmon anemia virus, have been transmitted from farmed populations to wild ones, causing numbers to decline significantly among those affected. Salmon aquaculture is also a recurring source of marine and riparian pollution. It's been time to broaden our horizons as fish consumers.

Eating wild salmon from the fishmonger can be out of of the price range of many, but the canned stuff (especially sockeye from Alaska) is affordable and actually very high quality for everyday use (there are varieties/brands with no salt added if sodium intake is a concern, though they typically are no more than 270 mg per 1/4 cup serving). If you have access to a fishmonger, in a supermarket or otherwise, to take them up on some suggestions of other species. There are many many delicious fish out there and its nice to get out of our collective rut.

Smaug January 24, 2017
I don't follow closely, not being a fan of salmon, but there's a lot of controversy in the western US about use of streams. Salmon require a lot of water in the streams to complete their rather unusual lifestyle, and this conflicts with the desire to divert the water for human use. Don't know if this is a problem elsewhere in the world, but it surely doesn't help prices.