While you can get salmon from both wild and farmed sources, most of the salmon that we see in the grocery stores today comes from farmed sources. You have several fishes that classify as salmon but figuring out how to make mass fishing a more sustainable practice becomes one of the chief concerns in 2019.
Can Salmon Farming Be Sustainable?
Open ocean net-pens have been estimated at yielding billions of pounds of salmon every year, but the problem is that they can also lead to disease, parasites, and pollution. Open ocean farming has been blamed for collapsing some of the wild salmon populations, which has been a problem since 2000.
Salmon Farming: How It Works
The practice of salmon farming first began in the 1960s as an experimental type of practice, but soon commercial companies realized the profits in this type of work. Over the course of 40 years, farmed salmon has become an increasingly profitable industry, and today, an estimated 60 percent of all the salmon in the world are farmed. Some of the regions where we have seen the most farmed salmon include:
These places have become the most popular for salmon farming because you need the right conditions present for it to become an ideal spot for salmon farming. You also see a modest amount of salmon farming in some other locations like New Zealand, Australia, Faroe Islands, and Ireland. Some of the conditions that are needed for salmon farming include:
- Sheltered coastline
- Water between 46 degrees to 57 degrees Fahrenheit
- Good biological conditions
Farmed Salmon the Process
You could look at farming salmon as a three-stage process. First, you have to hatch the salmon eggs inside of a freshwater tank. From this point on, the salmon will be raised in the channels or the tanks of running water. Normally, this process will take anywhere from 12 to 18 months for the salmon to mature. Once they have finished with this stage, they will be transported to a cage where they will be grown to reach maturity. For the entirety of the process, you can expect it to take up to three years. They will eventually be taken to a processing plant where they will be processed and prepared for the selling of the salmon meat. Most of the time, you will see this sold as a salmon fillet, but you also have the option to purchase it as an entire fish.
The Problem with Mass Fishing
One of the biggest risks of mass fishing comes from the fish being in close quarters with each other where they face problems of diseases and parasites. In addition, a large amount of untreated waste enters the ecological environment, which can prove dangerous to local wildlife.
What are the Sustainable Farming Practices
In 2019, we have seen a host of sustainable farming practices that have become increasingly common. This has made it easier on the environment than previous practices. For example, raising the salmon in their authentic environment has become one of the sustainable practices. This has led to happier and healthier fish. With all the types of salmon farming, for it to be successful, it will have to focus on sustainable water conservation. The ultimate goal behind this is to make sure that the environmental resources don’t get depleted as a result. In addition, responsible farmers have to make sure that they maintain an ecological balance.
Some of the aims of these sustainable practices include:
- Protecting the world’s freshwater supply
- Lowering our carbon imprint
- Contributing to ways that build a promising tomorrow
- Save our arable land
Can Salmon Farming Be Sustainable?
We can’t look at this as a one-dimensional problem because you have other factors that you must consider. For example, salmon are carnivores, and this means that you also have to farm krill and wild fish to feed the salmon. Experts believe that it takes two kilograms of wild fish for a kilogram of salmon, and this has led to many disputes. In the past, this industry had an atrocious record, but in 2019, they have begun to clean up their act. The demand for salmon has never been higher, and this has driven the aquaculture. Salmon has increasingly been marketed as a healthy food.
Taking a Turn for the Better
Jason Clay, the Senior Vice President at WWF, has had discussions with some of the leading farmers about how to best proceed. Through the talks, it led to a set of standards of procedures that have helped to raise the industry standards. No one ever argued about the impact of salmon farming, but it has taken time to draw up standards that will prove most effective in having a positive impact on the environment. Many companies have already pledged to meet the ASC standards by 2020, which will lower the impact of salmon farming on the environment. What do some of the standards include? Some of the standards intended to lead to the best industry practices include:
- Limiting antibiotics
- No tolerance for escaped fish
- Prohibition of genetic engineering
- Safety guidelines for producing fish
- Sustainable practices with lowered carbon imprint
In addition, taking the fish that are processed into a meal is now turning into a practice where companies are looking to sustainably harvest them. This is what the ASC standards have addressed, which makes this form of mass fishing more sustainable than ever before. The ultimate goal is to work with these companies and figure out how to lower the environmental cost, and in 2019, we have identified some ways that we can do that.
A lot of experimentation has been done when it comes to salmon aquaculture, and this has been a good thing because it leads us to the most sustainable industry practices and a positive impact over the long term. Things have gotten much better, and they will likely only continue to improve in 2019 as the ASC standards begin to take effect.