The Real Cost of Fish
The United States is the third largest market for seafood, but only the 15th largest in aquaculture production. The lack of local seafood means we spend excessive amounts to fill demands – in 2015, we imported nearly 330,000 metric tons, and it cost us 2.5 billion dollars. Our exports of fresh and frozen Pacific salmon only resulted in just over 200,000 metric tons, valued at 704.9 million dollars.
- Pacific salmon is only available during the summer and fall
- A majority of the costs come from shipping overseas
- Excessive shipping also results in a higher carbon footprint
2.5 billion dollars = the cost of importing fish to the US in 2015
704.9 million dollars = how much we exported to other countries
The United States is the 3rd largest seafood market
Shortage by 2030
50-80 million metric ton shortage expected by 2030
Question: Do farmed salmon compete economically with commercially-caught wild salmon?
Answer: Not really. Salmon production by net pen industry in the United states counterbalances the declining commercial and tribal landings of Pacific salmon to meet increasing consumer demands for seafood. It’s a different market for different fish.
Question: Are there any advantages to Atlantic salmon over Pacific salmon?
Answer: Yes. Regarding availability, Atlantic salmon are available all year long. They’re also relatively inexpensive to produce.
Question: Do farmed salmon create waste clouds in Puget Sound?
Answer: Farmers use underwater cameras and modern technology to avoid expensive feed waste. The state’s Department of Ecology issues permits through a well-developed regulatory system; farms are required to monitor conditions and report to agencies that make information publicly available.
Question: Shouldn't salmon farming only occur on land?
Answer: Our expert salmon farmers understand that closed, land-based systems may work on some species for their entire life cycle. However, it isn’t currently viable, sustainable, or in the best interest of fish welfare to grow Atlantic salmon to market size on a commercial scale in these systems. Our salmon spend up to half their lives in land-based hatcheries using recirculating aquaculture systems
Question: Can't we farm Pacific salmon just as easily as Atlantics?
Answer: Atlantic salmon are much more adaptable to farming because they grow quickly and efficiently, are more docile, and resist disease. There’s also a stronger market demand; broad commercial viability for Pacific salmon remains to be proven. Companies in British Columbia and Chile previously farmed Pacific salmon on a niche basis.
Solving the Demands at Home
While aquaculture dates back to ancient times, modern salmon farming in the Puget Sound originated in the 1970s. It’s a cost-effective system that’s also an environmentally secure way to raise high-quality fish and feed our community. And since it’s locally grown, it’s less expensive than imported salmon.
- An 80-acre farm can produce over 17 metric tons of quality protein annually
- Salmon farms are similar to land-based farms in regular environmental monitoring
- Farmers follow strict codes of practice to ensure their fish are healthy, properly contained, and cleared of waste
Aquaculture Brings Prosperity to the Community
Bringing the farm home means more jobs, more investment opportunities, and a renewed tax base. Aquaculture revitalized coastal communities in Maine and Atlantic Canada by creating direct and indirect jobs, supporting small businesses, and stimulating research and innovation.
And there’s still plenty of room for controlled growth here in Washington.
- Aquaculture generates 8.5 million dollars annually in the Puget Sound in wages and local economy
- Salmon farms are the most significant revenue generator for the Department of Natural Resources on aquatic lands
8.5 million dollars of annual impact locally
More Direct Jobs
80 direct full-time jobs in the Puget Sound
More Indirect Jobs
100 indirect jobs on harvesting boats and processing plants
17 Metric Tons
Only 80 acres produces 17 metric tons of protein