First land-based salmon hits US retail market

Wegmans, Safeway stores first to sell land-raised salmon in North America.

Salmon raised in land-based recirculating tanks is now available in restaurants and stores across the United States for the first time, thanks to the Freshwater Institute, a program of the Arlington-based Conservation Fund.

The Freshwater Institute's farmed fish are being marketed as Springhill Salmon at Wegman's and are available for a short time in the Washington area, reported the Washington Post.

For two years, the institute’s researchers have been growing Atlantic salmon at a recirculating aquaculture facility in Shepherdstown, W.Va., 70 miles from the District.

They have been chipping away at the sustainability issues that plague this farmed fish’s reputation by growing it in land-based tanks without the use of antibiotics or hormones. They’ve acclimated the fish to grow in fresh water and are reusing 99 percent of it while reducing the amount of forage fish required to feed the growing predators.

The next step in proving that the concept works -- and is viable enough to be adopted by the broader aquaculture industry -- is showing that it sells in the marketplace.

Freshwater’s first batch hit markets in Maryland and Virginia in late March and will be available through mid-May at area Wegmans seafood counters and on more than a dozen restaurant menus.

As a research facility, the Freshwater Institute isn’t aiming to push out the salmon year-round. Its fish won’t hit the market again for another eight to 10 months, and previous salmon harvests have been donated to places such as the anti-hunger nonprofit D.C. Central Kitchen.

In the meantime, institute director Joseph Hankins has opened the facility’s doors to aquaculture businesses and investors looking to adapt and scale up the recirculating aquaculture, or closed containment, technology.

Land-based aquaculture is a growing alternative that eliminates the risk of spreading waste, diseases or parasites in open waters.

Closed containment systems do, however, share a key area of concern with their water-based counterparts, and that’s how many fish it takes to grow the larger ones that humans eat. System owners also have to filter out fish waste or develop markets for products like fish fertilizer.

The Freshwater Institute is working to reduce its “fish in-fish out” ratio, as it’s called, which is nearing 1:1 and is about 20 percent better than the industry’s average.

Namgis salmon to hit Safeway stores

Meanwhile, Kuterra, the first land-based commercial Atlantic salmon farm in North America, is set to announce the arrival of Canada’s first land-raised Atlantic salmon in retail stores April 22.

Safeway stores is set to be the first chain to sell the Kuterra land-based salmon.

IntraFish Media is researching and compiling an exclusive report on the economics of land-based salmon farming. To find out more and to pre-order your copy contact us here.