Aquaculture North America

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National Geographic sees leaner and greener salmon farms


May 12, 2014
By Erich Luening

In the not-so-distant past finding positive coverage about marine finfish aquaculture in the mainstream media was as rare as hen’s teeth but recently that has begun to change.

         Over the last several months positive articles on salmon farming in North America have highlighted the sustainable efforts and successes in developing better feed efficiencies and rearing technologies.

         In a recent article on National Geographic’s web site (“Salmon Farming Gets Leaner and Greener”) the publication highlights how aquaculture has improved its environmental footprint.

         “What’s good to see is that there are a lot of good jobs being done on the energy input,” said Brian Howard, the National Geographic writer who authored the piece. “I was surprised to see how little protein now is needed. I saw a ratio of 1.2 pounds to grow one pound. I remember not to long ago when it was more 4 or 5 to 1.”

         Howard’s article comes several months after a similar Washington Post article with the headline “Why Farmed Salmon is a Viable Alternative to Wild Salmon,” where the reporter cited similar data that showed better feed protein to grown protein ratios as well as illustrating how sustainable practices and better technology is positively changing the industry.

         In the National Geographic article Howard writes about industry standards being developed by groups such as the Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC), based in the Netherlands and founded by the World Wildlife Fund.

         “The story came out of a lot reporting at the World Ocean Conference at the end of February,” said Howard, who also writes about marine policy for National Geographic. “A lot of NGOs, business, and academics were there… I was surprised to see how greener [aquaculture] had become.”

         He also was surprised to find out how good many fish farmers have become at bringing down the fish feed ratio.

         The target in the new ASC guidelines is a ratio of 1.4, or about half of what the industry was doing overall in 2000, he said.

– Erich Luening


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