Sustainable salmon farming? Maybe, if you head inland

Is salmon farming ever sustainable? For years, many marine biologists have argued that the floating, open-ocean net pens that produce billions of pounds of salmon per year also generate pollution, disease and parasites. In some places in western Canada, the open-ocean salmon farming industry has been blamed for the collapse of wild salmon populations in the early 2000s — though other research has challenged that claim. But now, a few salmon farms have moved inland, producing fish in land-locked cement basins separated from river and sea.
Alastair Bland reports.

One Response

  1. I agree with Daniel Pauly (UBC Fisheries) that even closed-system salmon farms leave a lot to be desired in terms of sustainability. Such systems use a lot of energy to filter/circulate water, monitor water conditions, and provide temperature control for the closed-system and facility. It will be hard to do on a large-scale and make a profit.

    Another issue with any farmed-salmon is that they concentrate Dioxins, PCBs, Dioxin-like compounds, and sometimes mercury that have found there way into the food chain. Research has shown salmon from Northern Europe as particularly compromised. Some trials have been made with fish feed that has been “cleaned” of contaminants (usually by getting rid of the fats) but the problem remains that forage fish are being used to feed farmed salmon. Again there is that issue of efficient use of resources.

    I have the nagging feeling that the most efficient way to raise salmon is to maintain, sustain, protect, and restore wild salmon runs. It won’t be easy, but we’ve got to face up to the many issues and problems that have come from our exploitation of natural resources. As much as we try to ignore the idea when using fisheries, there is “no free lunch”.

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