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What Can U.S. Open Ocean Aquaculture Learn From Salmon Farming?

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Global production of farmed salmon and trout in saltwater was 1.82 million metric tons in 2007, three times more than any other farmed marine fish category. Development of this industry teaches that, for fish farming to succeed, containment systems must be easily deployed and operated and governments must create space in their coastal waters where farms can be located. Neither of these circumstances exists presently in the United States and, until this changes, other lessons that salmon farming teaches can only provide research or policy guidance. These include the importance of selecting a good fish to farm and making them “affordable” by being efficient. Salmon farmers achieved the latter through mechanization, industry scale, and a focus on good fish health and performance.

Salmon farming also teaches that various plant and animal ingredients can be used in salmon feed and that its future growth will not be limited because salmon is a carnivore, as some have suggested. In fact, carnivorous fish, such as salmon, may turn out to be some of the most ecologically efficient species to farm. It is noteworthy, too, that it took 40 years to establish an industry with the capacity to produce 1.82 million metric tons of fish per year while the United States imported 2.36 million metric tons of seafood in 2008, 83% of its needs, much of it from foreign farms. If future international competition for these same supplies leads to national seafood shortages, it will be hard to replace it quickly with products from domestic aquaculture.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: May 1, 2010

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  • The Marine Technology Society Journal is the flagship publication of the Marine Technology Society. It publishes the highest caliber, peer-reviewed papers on subjects of interest to the society: marine technology, ocean science, marine policy and education. The Journal is dedicated to publishing timely special issues on emerging ocean community concerns while also showcasing general interest and student-authored works.
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