The importance of aquaculture

The demand for farmed fish is increasing as a consequence of consumer market trends:

  • Health benefits of seafood (high quality protein, Omega-3) are well recognized and actively promoted.

  • Sustainability awareness of consumers is rising and their understanding of the limitations on available wild fish is increasing. Farmed fish is a sustainable way to secure both food requirements and secure wild fish.

  • A growing world population, a growing middle class and an increasing urbanization all increase the demand for more convenient food products. Farmed salmon is already used in a wide number of (ready) meals and accepted in many diets around the world.

  • A key concern for consumers in general, is the environmental footprint of farmed fish, especially with respect to the use of vaccines, antibiotics, impact on wild salmon and fish welfare.

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important Issues the industry faces:

 

Increasing costs

“In 2016, fish producers slaughtered 10.000 tons more than in 2012. However, in 2016 it required 14 billion NOK extra, to achieve a similar volume. This is an increase of 56 % in costs”. (Kontali Analyse).

 

Government regulation

The Norwegian government recently implemented a new management system (traffic light system) to regulate salmon farming, aiming to promote environmentally sustainable growth in the aquaculture industry. 

 

Fish Welfare

53 million farmed salmon died in the cages last year. Based on normal weight and kilo price of NOK 55, this means that last year, salmon farms lost over 13 billion NOK in revenue. It is assumed that mortality associated with treatments using new, mechanical and physical methods against the salmon lice contributed to the increase in losses in recent year (Fiskehelserapporten 2017).

2017 was a very good year for Marine Harvest financially. However, I am concerned about increasing costs and challenging biological conditions.
— CEO Marine Harvest, Q4-2017
Damage due to salmon lice remains the biggest challenge for fish health in Norway. The welfare consequences of treating fish against the parasites, are that large amounts of fish are damaged, often with fatal outcome.

Without good health, we do not achieve the goal of sustainable growth.
— Fiskehelserapporten 2017