Int'l Workshop Leads Way to Sustainable Salmon Farming


International Workshop Leads the Way to Sustainable Farming of Atlantic Salmon
July 28, 2013

What does the town of Shepherdstown on the Potomac River in West Virginia, USA have in common with the town of St. Andrews on the Bay of Fundy in New Brunswick, Canada? Both small communities have researchers that are at the forefront of making salmon aquaculture a commercially and environmentally-sound venture for forward-thinking entrepreneurs throughout the world.

The Freshwater Institute, located in Shepherdstown, is an internationally-recognized program of the Conservation Fund, a charity that has been protecting land and water in the United States for thirty years. Its premier research and development facilities are dedicated to sustainable water use and re-use. The Atlantic Salmon Federation, a charity in both the United States and Canada, has worked for more than 60 years, through research, education and government relations, to conserve, protect and restore wild Atlantic salmon and the ecosystems on which their well-being and survival depend.

So it made good sense for the Conservation Fund Freshwater Institute (CFFI) and the Atlantic Salmon Federation (ASF) to partner in 2011 to demonstrate the feasibility of producing farmed Atlantic salmon in land-based, recirculation aquaculture systems. This project is producing thousands of pounds of premium salmon sustainably, while creating a viable alternative to net-pen farming and helping to turn the tide of open ocean expansion. The product is getting rave reviews for its quality and taste from chefs, seafood distributers, and the general public. The program is determined to transfer expertise and technical information to industry, government, researchers and conservationists. The CFFI and ASF will host, along with the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, an international summit on fish farming in land-based, closed-containment systems in Shepherdstown, September 4 to 6, 2013. Sessions on farmed salmon health and performance, maximizing flavor, economic and environmental comparisons to open net pen operations, and the experiences of closed-containment entrepreneurs in the United States, Denmark, Canada, Chile, Holland, and Norway are all part of the workshop agenda.

The workshop is an important step in encouraging the transition from open net pen fish farming, with its inherent escapes that threaten wild salmon in nearby rivers with genetic pollution, and the ongoing-threats of disease, parasites and polluted sea floors below the cages. Closed-containment systems offer complete separation of finfish aquaculture from wild salmon and the environment. Itís a case of providing consumers the opportunity to buy healthy, high-quality and tasty fish grown in facilities that are environmentally and commercially sustainable.