Introduction by Alex Whitebrook
SALMON EXPERT TOPIC
Endemic to the North Atlantic on both European and North American sides, Atlantic Salmon have been a key source of supply to the demand of consumers around the world for centuries. Especially known for the epic mass migration made every four years, made once they have matured and must return from their feeding grounds in the deep ocean to their birthplace in order to spawn, today the Atlantic Salmon is increasingly farmed for human consumption. As it has become exponentially prevalent in peoples diets, it has become near synonymous with the fishing industry. The modern farming of Atlantic Salmon first began in the 1960s with the use of sea cages in Norway. Early success ensured the spread of Salmon farms to every corner of the world. Today, countries that farm Atlantic Salmon also include Scotland, Ireland, the Faroe Islands, Canada, the US, Chile, Australia, New Zealand, France and Spain. As production has spread, stock has mainly been bred from a cross of local species with Norwegian stock. Breeding programmes around the world are currently attempting to identify species with increased production potential. Industry growth has led worldwide production to exceed one million tonnes per year. Rapid growth in production in the past 10-15 years has caused consumer prices to fall sharply, unfortunately reducing the likelihood of further growth in coming years. Coupled with the
decreasing availability of suitable sites for farming Atlantic Salmon, the industry could be in for hard times in years to come. The most rapidly growing supplier is now found in Chile, who are benefitting from the reduced prices of post-farm salmon due to the comparatively lower labour and material costs of the country. Despite consistent economic growth, the farming has long been controversial. Many individuals and organisation question its effects on the environment and on wild fisheries. Major areas of concern include local nutrient pollution into water systems, by waste feed and faeces, effects on wild fish (by escapees), through disease spread, and issues of sustainability in the industry due to dependency on industrial fisheries to produce feed. Each of these challenges are now being addressed by quality standards imposed within the industry and by market retailers. It will be interesting to follow the progression of the industry as it tackles falling consumer prices, environmental issues and sustainability challenges. Ultimately, as aqua cultural techniques improve, the Salmon industry is likely to experience growth once again. The following articles will contribute to the discussion, suggesting ways of improving farming practices and raising the nutritional value of each fish.
30 | February 2017 - International Aquafeed