Farmed salmon or wild caught salmon?

Salmon is known for being healthy and tasty and is consumed by consumers without hesitation. Nevertheless, critical questions are sometimes asked about salmon farming, rightly so. That is why we are happy to explain the differences between farmed and wild salmon.

We list the facts so that you can make your own choice.

Neerlandia Urk processes salmon that comes directly from Norway. Short lines ensure that the fresh salmon can be on your plate within a few days. And that includes consumers across Europe and America.

How is salmon farmed?

Salmon is farmed on land in fresh water. After one year of age they are strong enough to be transferred to the salt water. Salmon is an anadromous species and can therefore live in both salt water and fresh water.

The annual salmon ends up in cages in the sea and the water in the fjords of Norway is particularly suitable. It is cold water that is directly connected to the open sea.

The cages are so large that they consist of 97% water, the rest of which is fish. That way the salmon have the space to swim around freely. These cages are equipped to minimize stress for the salmon and to keep predators away.

After 2-3 years, the salmon have reached a weight of 4-5 kg and are suitable for consumption.

What is the advantage of farmed salmon?

There are a number of advantages for farmed salmon compared to wild salmon:

  • Farmed salmon require relatively little feed;
  • Farmed salmon has a short distance from farm to consumer;
  • The process can be largely regulated and controlled from egg to plate.

Why farmed salmon?

Salmon fishing has been banned for centuries. As early as 1030, King Malcolm II of Scotland imposed restrictions so that less salmon could be caught. And in 1466 Irish tanners were fined for washing leather near salmon spawning grounds.

Yet wild salmon populations in Atlantic rivers have been declining since 1800. This was partly due to:

  • Industrial Revolution
  • Dams in the rivers
  • Cities and associated pollution of the rivers
  • salmon fishing
  • Factories on the Rivers

In 1833 another salmon was caught and traded in London. But since then, there has been virtually no wild salmon in European rivers.

Therefore, around 1850, salmon farming boomed in Scotland, France, Canada, New England and the Northwest of America.

The farmed salmon has a feeding ratio of 1.1 to 1 kg, which compares very favorably with, for example, some types of meat.

And even with organic vegetables , a question about that ratio is justified. Because to feed the world’s population on a large scale, healthy food is needed. If, for example, seaweed turns out to be nutritious and has to be cultivated on a large scale , energy will also be needed to make that a reality. For example, the machines used for harvesting, transport and delivery to the consumer.

The proportion of farmed fish

The majority of salmon is farmed today. Farmed salmon is farmed in the sea in cages. If farmed salmon experiences stress, this can inhibit growth. Animal-friendly but also economic motives play a role in keeping the salmon healthy and it has a positive impact on the ecology.

The salmon are fed vegetable and animal food that is processed in pellets. The largest countries producing this are Chile, Norway, Scotland, Canada and the Faroe Islands.

Salmon is the most consumed food in America and Europe and in 2017 173 million tons of salmon were already processed, with the share of farmed salmon growing steadily. Wild-caught fish: fao.org/3/ca6463en/CA6463EN.pdf

What is Organic Salmon?

There are also different categories within aquaculture. For example, there is the organic salmon that is farmed more sustainably. Less or no antibiotics are used and fewer salmon swim in a breeding cage, which means they live more freely and have less stress. The nurseries are connected to open water. There is continuous monitoring:

  • The whole process from birth to processing;
  • Salmon health;
  • On the food of the salmon;
  • The water in which the salmon lives.

Farms that grow their salmon in a sustainable way are often provided with a quality mark, for example the ASC quality mark. This quality mark is stated on the packaging.

Nurseries are increasingly focusing on sustainability. For example, read the following news item:

In Norway , the salmon farming sector continues to develop. Salmon breeder Nordlaks has developed the Havfarm concept together with NSK Design. Havfarm 1 is a huge steel farm platform measuring 430 meters long, 50 meters wide and 30 meters deep, which will be anchored kilometers offshore and will be able to hold 10,000 tons of salmon. With the Boskalis ‘Boka Vanguard’, this enormous construction is on its way from the shipyard in China to Norway. Salmon farming in fjords and close to the coast is considered less and less desirable in Norway, partly because of the pollution. Farther from the coast, these problems are largely solved, but normal salmon breeding cages are no longer sufficient. A ‘Havfarm 2’ is already in the pipeline. It will also have screws that will allow it to move depending on the weather conditions, which can be particularly harsh here.

How do you recognize the right kind of salmon?

Check out the Latin name if you want to be sure what type of salmon you are buying.

– Oncorhynchus nerka is used for sockeye salmon / blueback salmon / sockeye salmon

– Salmo salar is the Latin name used for Atlantic or European salmon

Wild salmon

In addition to the breeding room, there is therefore the wild salmon, which is mainly caught in Canada and Alaska. After the catch, they are frozen and transported in containers to the place of processing. After thawing, the salmon is processed and then transported again. Wild salmon therefore often has a higher environmental impact due to transport. In addition, wild salmon is scarce compared to farmed salmon and therefore often more expensive.

Sustainable fish

As a consumer you can choose from sustainably caught wild salmon, but also sustainably farmed salmon. Organic salmon seems to be the best choice here. Consumers can buy salmon at the fishmonger’s shop, supermarket or online. Catering, restaurants and companies generally buy from wholesalers such as Neerlandia Urk. Our sales team is happy to assist you with all types of salmon from one pallet or more.

Not yet convinced whether you are eating sustainably? Then choose a species that is caught closer, for example fish from the North Sea.

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