Salmon Aquaculture

In terms of the level of industrialisation and the risks inherent in fish farming, salmon farming is the most advances area and has the least risks.

Salmon farming began at an experimental level in the 1960s but was industrialised in Norway in the 1980s and in Chile in the 1990s. The salmon farming industry has grown significantly over the past 40 years, and today some 75% of salmon produced around the world are farmed.

Of all salmon species, Atlantic aquaculture salmon was the leading species by production and catch in 2021. Aquaculture trout and pink salmon are also in the Top 3.

To date, global consumption of aquaculture salmon is estimated

at  2.7 mtpa,

while the catch of wild salmon amounted to about

880,000 tonnes FАО. 2020. The State of World Fisheries and Aquaculture – 2020. Actions to increase sustainability. Rome, FАО.

Consumption of aquaculture salmon has almost doubled in 10 years. The evolving global trend towards healthy eating, the increasing global population, the increasing range of ready-to-eat foods and the general increase in prosperity are the main reasons behind this growth.

However, constraints related to the scarcity of suitable water bodies (fish farming sites) pose a significant obstacle to the substantial growth in salmon production. Such a site should be located so as to be of adequate depth, yet sheltered from storms and other weather hazards, not subject to significant changes in water level due to tides, and away from shipping lanes and wild fish migration routes.

The cage complexes are positioned in water locations with the flow, temperature, wave load, and ice conditions that are best for fish. Fish feel just as at home in cage complexes set up in these water basins as they do in the wild.

Fish from farms has a number of advantages over fish from the wild. The average survival rate of fish over the whole growth cycle is between 85% and 90%, which is significantly higher than the survival rate of salmon in their natural habitat.

Additionally, the fish can grow considerably more quickly than wild salmon when given high-quality feed in adequate amounts.

Salmon aquaculture has a feed conversion ratio (the quantity of feed required for biomass growth per kg) of 1.3, which is much higher than that of poultry (1.9), pork (3.9), and beef (8.0).

Salmon cultivated on farms is an ecologically friendly substitute for meat, since it is one of the most sustainable and eco-efficient sources of protein. It also has one of the lowest greenhouse gas profiles of all animal protein sources. Depending on the method used, the carbon footprint of producing cattle meat can be three to seven times higher than that of producing fish, and it can be almost twice as high for producing pork or chicken.

Carbon footprint of aquaculture salmon production compared to that of animal productionAccording to the Global Salmon Initiative Sustainability Report
kg CO₂-eq. per 40 g of dietary protein
0.60 Salmon
0.88 Chicken
1.30 Pork
5.92 Beef

Salmon is a modern sustainable superfood, a unique product, available all year round (unlike wild fish) and of limited production. Salmon production has a number of advantages over other protein products (poultry, pork, beef). One can make the bold statement that the word ‘salmon’ is gradually becoming the equivalent of the word ‘fish’ in today’s society.

Salmon is an excellent source of protein (all nine essential amino acids), healthy fats, including omega-3 fatty acids, and several essential vitamins and minerals, making it a first-class component of a healthy and sustainable diet. On average, 100g of salmon meat contains 41% of the daily value of protein and at least 20% of the daily value of vitamins B3, B5, B6, B12, D, E and selenium. It is also a good source of potassium.

Since a variety of natural settings are frequently necessitated for maximum salmon production, a few farming regions such as Chile, Norway, Canada, and Scotland have historically dominated the production of Atlantic salmon. Such natural settings include cold water temperatures ranging from 8 to 14 °C, a sheltered shoreline and optimum biological conditions. Today, salmon farming is also gaining popularity in Russia.

Russian aquaculture can currently produce 120,000 tonnes of fish products annually. Given how little it is — only 0.2% of the total global production — any opportunity to increase the production of fish products within the bounds of the law would be an answer to the Russian Federation’s food problems.


Positive aspects of aquaculture in Russia

  • Development of a bio-resource renewable in controlled quantities; production of new, quality food, feed, medical and technical products
  • Scale-up of reproduction and stocking of valuable fish and non-fish species and conservation of biodiversity
  • Promotion of the region’s social and cultural sustainability through the creation of employment opportunities and respectable working conditions throughout the industry and its connected sectors, including fish processing, marketing and distribution
  • Source of potential export earnings, offsetting import pressures and having a positive impact on the trade balance

Aquaculture products are becoming more high-quality, and consumers are becoming more positive about them, which has raised the average price in the sector.

In terms of the level of industrialisation and the risks inherent in fish farming, salmon farming is the most advances area and has the least risks. However, constraints related to the scarcity of suitable water bodies pose a significant obstacle to the substantial growth in salmon production.

Variation in salmon pricesSource: FishPool.Euro/kg