Closed Containment is Salmon Farming’s Future - Atlantic Salmon Federation

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Today, viable technologies produce healthy farmed fish completely separate from the surrounding environment and wild fish.

The goal is to give fish farmers and regulators the opportunity to choose a different way to grow fish that is not only better for the environment, but also better for business, too.

Farming Atlantic salmon in high tech closed containment land based operations, rather than in nets that sit in the ocean, is catching on. Today, viable technologies produce healthy farmed fish completely separate from the surrounding environment and wild fish. Around the world, farmers are recognizing that there is a lucrative market in supplying chefs and consumers who increasingly demand fish grown in an environmentally-sustainable manner.

A partnership between The Conservation Fund Freshwater Institute (TCFFI) of West Virginia and the Atlantic Salmon Federation (ASF), a conservation organization with headquarters in St. Andrews NB, is producing healthy, unstressed farmed salmon, free of disease and sea lice, without vaccines, harsh chemicals, and antibiotics in closed-containment freshwater facilities on land. The goal is to give fish farmers and regulators the opportunity to choose a different way to grow fish that is not only better for the environment, but also better for business, too.

ASF has served its land-based, closed-containment salmon to appreciative guests, who attended events in New York, Washington, DC, Toronto, ON, and throughout Atlantic Canada. Chefs and the general public gave a very high rating to the taste, texture, and quality of the product. Chefs and seafood distributors desire it to satisfy the growing demand of their customers for sustainably-grown fish.

Because of the success of this one-year project, ASF and TCFFI will extend their partnered research for another three years and will explore the economics of growing larger quantities during this time.

The open net pen salmon farming industry greatly underplays the environmental impacts of farming salmon in open net pens in the ocean. Just one example is this industry's portrayal of outbreaks of Infectious Salmon Anemia (ISA) as a disease occurring naturally and to be expected as part of the business of farming salmon. In fact, this deadly flu-like disease is spread quickly among farmed salmon that are stressed in densely-packed open ocean net cages, wherever these farms exist -- Norway, Scotland, the Faroes, Chile, the United States and Canada.

In the Atlantic Canadian and Maine industries, millions of farmed salmon have had to be slaughtered and the industry compensated with millions of taxpayers' dollars from provincial, state and federal governments. It would it be more "economical" to circumvent the expense of destruction and compensation by growing salmon in disease-free closed containment facilities.

The aquaculture industry greatly exaggerates the amount of land, water, and energy required in land-based freshwater closed containment facilities. The industry claims that the equivalent of 8,000 football fields would be required to put the salmon farming operations of NB and NS on land. In 2011, Canada produced 31,000 tonnes of farmed salmon on the Atlantic coast. The Conservation Fund Freshwater Institute in its research over two decades has found that growing 30,000 tonnes of salmon per year would require only 75 to 150 football fields (including the end zones), and growing 100,000 tonnes per year would require well under 500 football fields.

Then there are the myths most recently perpetuated by the industry that closed containment requires "too much energy" and "too much water." In actual fact, the technology used to farm fish in closed containment can be adapted for freshwater, brackish water, and seawater. Most of the water is cleaned and re-used; any that is not re-used is treated before being returned to the environment.

We have also come a long way in designing energy efficient closed-containment farms with electricity use for a 3,000 tonne farm in the range of 2,250kW. European companies investing in this technology indicate that they are now achieving electrical load that is 70 per cent less than this estimate. When considering carbon footprint, it is also important to take into account the local effects of untreated pollution being discharged from open net pen farms directly into the ocean. Ocean-based net pens do not have discharge limits, effectively placing the burden on the marine environment and other resource users, rather than where it belongs -- with the farmer.

To learn more about closed containment, land based salmon farming, visit http://www.asf.ca

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The Atlantic Salmon Federation is dedicated to the conservation, protection and restoration of wild Atlantic salmon and the ecosystems on which their well being and survival depend.

ASF has a network of seven regional councils (New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Newfoundland and Labrador, Prince Edward Island, Quebec, Maine and Western New England). The regional councils cover the freshwater range of the Atlantic salmon in Canada and the United States.

ASF Contact: Muriel Ferguson, Communications 506 529-1033 or 506 529-4581

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Muriel Ferguson
Atlantic Salmon Federation
506 529-1033
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