Q1 Are farms really neccessary?
The average Australian now consumes approximately 16 kilos of seafood per year. This is a large amount to produce. In response to this growing demand, the seafood industry has established salmon farming. The Australian salmon farming industry is obliged to comply with Australian Government health regulation methods and sustainability regulation and standards.
As salmon is one of our most popular fish we need salmon farms because there is not enough wild salmon worldwide to keep up with demand. We like salmon not only because of its taste but also it is good for us. Salmon is a major source of protein and for Omega-3 fatty acids.
Australia currently imports more than 70% of its seafood. Our increasing appetite for seafood has become greater than our natural fish stocks can supply and therefore Australian farms are producing local fish to meet this demand.
Q2 What are we feeding farmed fish?
Most of Australia’s farmed Atlantic salmon are grown in sea farm pens until they weigh around 5kg at two-and-a-half-years old and are ready for harvesting. During their lifetime in the farm the salmon are fed fishmeal.
Fishmeal is a powder or pellet produced in factories from proteins such as small wild fish (e.g. anchovies), krill, shrimp, and/or fish, poultry or vegetable oils, which are combined with a composition of a variety of amino acids.
In the factory the fishmeal ingredients are ground, pressed and dehydrated to form pellets that are packaged and fed to farmed salmon multiple times a day.
Q3 Is there a sustainable alternative?
Australia’s increasing appetite is raising challenges for scientific researchers and environmentalists to devise sustainable practices and/or new products as alternative protein sources.
There are a number of sustainability issues to consider around salmon farming and tuna ranching, a process whereby migrating tuna are herded into sea cages for cultivation and harvesting. Standards vary around the world which is why consumers should be informed.
Most scientists, environmentalists and food nutritionists agree we should be eating more of our seafood from further down the food chain. That is, smaller fish such as sardines.
In Far North Queensland, Pacific Reef Fisheries, a world’s best-practice prawn farm, is making use of its prawn farm wastewater and capitalising on Asian food preferences. The fishery intercepts the waste process and cultivates protein-rich algae for human consumption. The algae is dried, packaged and exported to countries such as Japan and China.
Produced sustainably from a waste product, the algae reduces the environmental impact of prawn farming and provides an alternative protein source to feed our growing global population.
Q4 ACTION What can I do?
- Eat lower down the food chain and seek out plant-based proteins
- Find out more about the aquaculture industry in Australia
- Explore Australian Marine Conservation Society (AMCS) - Aquaculture in Focus
- View our info graphic on how you can switch your fish