Search for Sustainable Solutions in Salmon Aquaculture


salmon farm
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Principal Investigator
Senior Fellow
  • William Wrigley Professor of Earth System Science
  • Senior Fellow, Stanford Woods Institute and Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies
  • Senior Fellow and Founding Director, Center on Food Security and the Environment

Continued growth in farmed salmon production worldwide--combined with emerging growth in the production of other lucrative farmed finfish species such as bluefin tuna, cod, and halibut--threatens marine ecosystems and heightens the need for sustainable solutions to farming practices. The debate over "whither farmed salmon" remains widely polarized, with environmental groups calling for the complete elimination of marine aquaculture or a move to land-based systems that are economically unviable under current market conditions. The extent to which the industry is responding to pressure from environmental groups is mixed within and across companies. The greatest gains have been seen in the feed component of the industry (typically the largest variable cost in production), but the aggregate amount of fishmeal and fish oil used by the aquaculture industry continues to rise with the volume of carnivorous fish produced globally. Aquaculture currently contributes over 60% of fresh and frozen salmon sold in international markets, and it is unlikely that farmed production will lose market share relative to wild salmon catch in the future. Now that the environmental and social ills of the salmon aquaculture industry have been well defined, what approaches can be used to move toward more sustainable production practices?

This project seeks to cover four aspects of research and outreach:

  • A detailed investigation of the economic and political constraints on and opportunities for adopting environmentally sustainable practices in the B.C. salmon farming industry, using the experience of Creative Salmon Inc. and government-funded experimental projects as a basis for the analysis;
  • The development of an advisory relationship with NGOs working on salmon aquaculture in B.C. in order to provide scientific expertise to their activities;
  • An exploration of new production practices being proposed or used in the salmon aquaculture industry in Chile; and
  • Maintenance of Naylor's salmon aquaculture database and literature file for continued intellectual participation on this topic.