Albion explores land-based aquaculture
Atlantic salmon are prized as a farm fish by growers — because they grow to harvest size quickly — and by cooks and chefs for their firm flesh and mild flavor.
Vancouver-based Albion Fisheries is developing a local market for closed containment Atlantic salmon, putting samples grown in research facilities in West Virginia into the hands of chefs.
“The closed containment product has a milder flavor than ocean-raised salmon which really suits the North American palate,” said Albion vice-president Guy Dean. “Some of the chefs really liked the higher fat content and thought it tasted more buttery.”
“In consumer taste tests, 80 per cent chose the closed containment product over the net-pen product,” he said.
Market research also shows some people won’t buy farmed fish because of the problems with net-pen farms, said Eric Hobson, a board member of the ’Namgis closed containment salmon farm.
A farmed fish that ticks all the boxes for sustainability could well find a market among environmentally conscious shoppers, said Mike McDermid, a manager at Vancouver Aquarium’s Ocean Wise conservation program.
“Land-based aquaculture mitigates escapes, controls effluents and solid waste and you don’t have any disease getting out into the wild, if it’s a true recirculating system,” he said. “The elephant in the room is still feed. You don’t want to damage wild fisheries in order to feed so-called sustainable aquaculture.”