Sunday, December 3, 2023

Salmon farms trumpet low carbon footprint

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King salmon beats beef, lamb and cheese on environmental impact.
New Zealand farms produce 75% of the world’s King salmon – sustainably.
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Life cycle analysis of New Zealand-farmed King salmon sold domestically shows a lower carbon footprint than beef, lamb and cheese.

The sustainability life cycle analysis or LCA shows the carbon footprint of King salmon is similar to that of eggs, poultry and farmed oysters.

The LCA was carried out by Thinkstep-ANZ and the results published by Fisheries New Zealand, Aquaculture NZ and the Salmon Farmers Association.

The life cycle includes production, processing, packaging, transport, cooking and disposal.

The chair of the Salmon Farmers Association, Mark Preece, said the results of the study are good for both producers and consumers.

King salmon, also known as Chinook salmon, is the only salmon species farmed commercially in NZ, where farms produce 75% of the world’s King salmon.

The study not only affirms the sustainability of King salmon as a food source, but also provides the industry with insights for future enhancement strategies.

Sanford’s manager of sustainability, Peter Longdill, said further reductions in energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions will be introduced in the supply chain.

This study follows a similar one carried out in 2021, which found that NZ-farmed Greenshell mussels and Pacific oysters have among the lowest carbon footprints of all animal protein.

Thinkstep-ANZ said the study was conducted across four salmon farmers, a smoult producer and two feed manufacturers.

Recommendations include working with suppliers to identify lower-impact feeds and improved feeding systems and encouraging air freight companies to use lower carbon fuels and improve their freezing and chilling technology.

The government has an Aquaculture Strategy that aims to grow the sector to $3 billion by 2035.

Last year revenue was approximately $685 million, slightly under half of which came from King salmon domestically and export.

Around 3000 people are employed in the sector.

New Oceans and Fisheries Minister Rachel Brooking told an industry conference recently that export revenue from the fisheries sector will be $2.1bn in the year to June 30, of which aquaculture will earn $510m.

“Good progress is being made, including delivering on the Crown’s aquaculture settlement obligations to enable Māori to grow their contribution to the sector,” Brooking said.

“As we look towards growth, we must also build resilience into the system to respond to the inevitable challenges of climate change.

“Aquaculture won’t be spared from these impacts, but with our aquaculture industry being relatively young, there is ample room to evolve and adapt.” 

Aquaculture leader, listed company NZ King Salmon, recently announced a mediated agreement to allow its Blue Endeavour farm development in cooler and deeper waters of Cook Strait to proceed.

Settlement has been reached with the Department of Conservation and the McGuinness Institute, a Wellington-based sustainability think-tank.

The company had been working on the project for several years to combat the rising fish mortality in Marlborough Sounds farms because of warmer waters.

Formalities are now expected from the Environment Court and from the Ministry for Primary Industries so that construction can start.

The Blue Endeavour potential is 10,000t of King salmon annually, within an industry that currently produces 15,000t and is projected to grow with further open ocean farms to 80,000t annually.

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