There’s one more point we wanted to make about on-land salmon farms as a follow-up to our last post.
Critics of salmon farms love to use the term “feedlot” to describe ocean farms. In their minds this brings a negative connotation to salmon farms (even though science is showing that feedlots may actually be more “green” than finishing beef on grass).
They try and paint word pictures of cramped quarters where poor farmed fish can barely move.
Yet these same people turn around and promote land-based salmon farms as the best possible way to raise salmon.
Either they’ve never bothered to research the numbers, or they are lying when they say they care about fish welfare. Because the latest land-based salmon farm, currently under construction near Port McNeill, will be operating with fish in their tanks at a density of 90 kilograms per cubic metre.
Based on our conversations with the different farming companies, a conventional ocean salmon farm operates with fish in the nets at a density of about 18 kilograms per cubic metre.
This land-based farm will have fish in a density equivalent to 2.6 salmon in a bathtub.
A conventional ocean farm has fish in a density equivalent to 0.5 salmon in a bathtub.
Which one is the true feedlot?
One last thought: if animal welfare is truly your concern, take a look at this report from 2007, titled “Closed Waters: The Welfare of Farmed Atlantic Salmon, Rainbow Trout, Atlantic Cod and Atlantic Halibut.” The report suggests, based on an analysis of several different studies, that the top density for farmed Atlantic salmon in ocean farms is 22 kilograms per cubic metre. Salmon farmers are well below this threshold. The report also points out that salmonids in higher densities can be more aggressive, grow smaller, nip and bite at each other, are more susceptible to illness and disease, and get worn fins.
Again, which form of salmon farming is the true feedlot?
Growing awareness of aquaculture is prompting people to start calling for welfare rules for farmed fish. We agree this is necessary.
And we are confident that salmon farmers in the ocean are already above reproach when it comes to looking after the health of their livestock.