By: Salvador Meza*
The transition demands substantial investment, a steep learning curve, and conscious decisions in mitigating environmental impacts.
As salmon farming moves from the open sea and into land-based systems, it’s worth noting there are several complexities. Today we’ll discuss the primary challenges that this shift brings. Conservationists, seafood lovers, and salmon farmers alike view full-cycle land-based farming as a potentially game-changing revolution, but navigating the change can pose its fair share of hurdles.
Firstly, the upfront financial costs for switching to land-based farming techniques can be daunting. These costs can include constructing new facilities, changing operational procedures, and training staff for the new processes.
Next, we can’t gloss over the technological challenges. Dealing with water usage and waste disposal in land-based farming requires new, more rigorous systems and procedures. Traditional sea-based aquaculture seemed simplistic in comparison the vastness of the ocean naturally handles these aspects.
Technologies for filtration, oxygenation, temperature control, and water recycling must be reliable, otherwise, the health of the salmon would be at risk.
Lastly, let’s talk about the environmental impacts. While land-based farms can reduce some of the environmental issues associated with sea-based farming, they still carry their own environmental burden. The energy needed to operate these systems can be high, and if the energy comes from non-renewable sources, this can add another notch to the global carbon footprint.
In conclusion, although the transition from sea-based farming to land-based systems can bring numerous benefits, it’s clear that there are many significant challenges that need tackling. As we look towards a sustainable future, meeting these challenges head-on, with knowledge, creativity, and determination, is vital.
Remember, this transformation doesn’t only cater to the welfare of the salmon; it also aids in protecting our environment and seafood supply chain.
The upfront cost of transitioning from open sea to land-base salmon farming can be significant
With the advanced technologies readily available, transitioning to land-based aquaculture seems to be the sustainable future of the salmon farming industry. However, this transition does carry its fair share of challenges. Let’s highlight and discuss some of these prominent challenges.
Building and maintaining land-based aquaculture systems are capital-intensive endeavors. Besides the high upfront investment, the recurring costs tied to technology, utilities, and labor can have a significant impact on the profitability potential of these operations (Table 1).
Knowledge Gap: Transitioning to a different farming method requires an extensive understanding of the technology and the new operational methodology. Raising salmon on land may require different skills and knowledge that current sea-based farmers may not possess.
There may be a need for additional training and skill development to avoid significant losses and promote success. Expertise will be key to the success of this new industry. Traditional skills used in marine cage culture may not necessarily transfer to land-based operations. It’s a totally different production system.
While land-based salmon farming is often positioned as a more sustainable method, it has its environmental burdens. These include high energy usage, substantial water requirements, and waste management issues. The success of this transition heavily depends on how effectively these environmental challenges are approached and managed.
✓ Energy usage: Land-based systems can consume a vast amount of energy, primarily when dealing with temperature control and water circulation.
✓ Water requirements: Large volumes of fresh water are needed for land-based farms, which could stress local water resources.
✓ Waste management: Effective waste disposal systems have to be in place to prevent any potential environmental damage.
In summary, while land-based aquaculture presents a promising future for the salmon industry, these challenges need to be acknowledged and proactively addressed. The transition demands substantial investment, a steep learning curve, and conscious decisions in mitigating environmental impacts.
However, with continued experimentation and resource commitment, these challenges can be addressed, moving the industry towards a more sustainable future.
How much money should the salmon industry invest to make the change to inland?
Determining the exact amount of money that the salmon industry should invest in transitioning to inland aquaculture is a complex task.
It depends on various factors such as the scale of the operation, the specific technology being used, and the desired production capacity. In general, establishing land-based salmon farms can require significant upfront investment due to the need for infrastructure development, including land acquisition, construction of facilities, and installation of specialized equipment.
Additionally, ongoing operational costs such as energy, water, and labor should be considered. Therefore, a thorough cost analysis and feasibility study should be conducted to estimate the financial requirements for making the shift to inland aquaculture. One of the major cost drivers in transition-ing from marine to inland aquaculture is the technology employed.
Different technologies, such as recirculating aquaculture systems (RAS) or flow-through systems, have varying capital and operational costs.
RAS, for example, is known for its high initial investment due to the need for advanced water treatment and recirculation infrastructure. On the other hand, flow-through systems may require less capital investment but can have higher operational costs due to the continuous flow of water.
Therefore, the choice of technology will significantly impact the overall financial investment needed for the transition. Another aspect to consider when determining the financial investment required for the shift to inland aquaculture is the regulatory framework.
Different regions and countries have varying regulations and permitting processes for land-based aquaculture operations. Compliance with environmental regulations, obtaining necessary permits, and meeting local zoning requirements can add to the overall cost.
“It is essential for the salmon industry to work closely with regulatory bodies and stakeholders to understand and navigate the regulatory landscape, which will help in estimating the financial investment needed for the transition.”
Furthermore, the investment required for transitioning to inland aquaculture should also account for potential risks and uncertainties. As with any new venture, there are inherent risks associated with adopting new technologies and operating in a different environment.
Adequate contingency plans and risk management strategies should be developed to mitigate these uncertainties. Allocating a portion of the investment for research and development, as well as for ongoing monitoring and optimization of the land-based farms, will help ensure the long-term success and sustainability of the industry.
Salmon produced inland will likely face slow market acceptance, requiring additional polishing and marketing expenses
The acceptance of the consumer market for salmon produced inland is likely to be slow due to several factors.
✓ Firstly, consumers are accustomed to purchasing salmon that has been traditionally farmed in the sea, and there may be a perception that land-based farms cannot produce the same quality or taste. This perception may take time to change as consumers become more familiar with the concept of inland aquaculture and its benefits.
✓ Secondly, there may be concerns about the environmental impact of land-based salmon farms. Some consumers may worry about the potential for pollution or the use of chemicals in these facilities. It will be important for the industry to address these concerns and communicate the sustainable practices and benefits of inland aquaculture to gain consumer trust.
✓ Additionally, the cost of producing salmon inland may be higher initially compared to traditional sea-based farming. This could result in higher prices for consumers, which may impact their willingness to switch to inland-produced salmon. However, as technology advances and economies of scale are achieved, the cost of production is likely to decrease, making inland aquaculture more competitive in the market.
To overcome these challenges, it will be crucial to invest in marketing and polishing the image of inland aquaculture. This can be done through targeted advertising campaigns, educational initiatives, and partnerships with retailers and restaurants. By highlighting the advantages of inland aquaculture, such as reduced environmental impact, improved fish welfare, and traceability, the industry can gradually build consumer acceptance and demand for salmon produced inland.
In conclusion, determining the exact amount of money the salmon industry should invest in shifting to inland aquaculture is a multifaceted task. It depends on factors such as the scale of operation, technology choice, regulatory requirements, and risk management strategies. Conducting a comprehensive cost analysis, considering both upfront capital investment and ongoing operational costs, is crucial.
Collaboration with experts, industry stakeholders, and regulatory bodies will aid in estimating the financial investment needed for a successful transition to land-based salmon farming.
Salvador Meza is Editor & Publisher of Aquaculture Magazine, and of the Spanish language industry magazine Panorama Acuicola.