Since the early 1990s Alaska’s salmon industry has faced tough competition from farmed fish. Now salmon growers are coming ashore in the U.S. in a big way. The latest trend is raising Atlantic salmon in massive tanks, called recirculating aquaculture systems, or RAS.
“It really could be considered salmon aquaculture 2.0.”
Garrett Evridge is an economist with the McDowell Group.
“The current model is the near shore farms and land based technology has really improved upon that. Obviously there is no worry about interaction with wild stocks.”
The closed loop recirculating systems also use no antibiotics, additives or pesticides, removing big negatives from fish grown in crowded ocean net pens. The water, gotten from deep wells, is filtered similar to an aquarium, and can be reused within the tank. A constant current gives the fish exercise to enhance health and meat quality.
Maine already has attracted two indoor fish growers. This month Nordic Aquafarms of Norway and Aquabanq, a UK company, both announced they will begin building massive RAS salmon growing facilities there next spring.
Another Norwegian company – Atlantic Sapphire –is doubling its land purchase in Homestead, Florida to 160 acres for a RAS facility that aims to grow 500 million pounds of salmon annually by 2030. Evridge advises Alaska to pay attention –
“If you look at the U.S. some of the proposed facilities in sum would be several million pounds of production annually. It would be production that in some years is equal to our current Alaska salmon production. So it’s certainly something to pay attention to and it looks like there’s momentum around the industry.”
And since 2017 an American owned Wisconsin company called Superior Fresh has advanced the land-based, fresh fish tank farming model on its 720 acres by attaching it to a greenhouse. Its motto is “great food from the best fish.”