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Growth of aquaculture industry enhanced by 'lean and clean' consumer society.

Growth of Aquaculture Industry Enhanced By 'Lean and Clean' Consumer Society

Increasing consumer demand for seafood is putting increasing pressure on both wild fish stocks and aquaculture, and the "lean and clean" society has a lot to do with it.

In other words, Brian Rogers, general manager of Sea Farm Canada, St. John, New Brunswick, told the International Seafood Conference in Amsterdam, the concern for health is turning consumers towards health foods, including fish

Even before that, aquaculture was a rapidly-growing industry. To give one example, salmon farms in Norway produced just 98 tons in 1971, their fist year. Five years later, output had increased to about 1,400 tons, equivalent to the wild catch. By 1990, the total is expected to reach 100,000 tons, based on grow-out of 50 million smolt released last spring.

Norway's success inspired similar efforts in Scotland, where production was projected at 15,000-20,000 tons for 1988, and more recently in Canada, where 32 East Coast farms were expected to turn out 3,000 to 3,500 tons. Since the first experimental work in 1978-79 Rogers said, prices for farmed salmon have risen from $3.27 (Canadian) a pound to $6.50 to $6.75, and tonnage is expected to increase to 6,000 this coming year and more than 10,000 in the early 1990's.

Experience has been a good teacher, he added. "After farming Atlantic salmon in New Brunswick for the last eight years, we now know that there are indeed differences between East Coast stocks, West Coast stocks, Scottish and Norwegian stocks, and we appear to have been blessed with an East Coast stock that does culture well, is desirable in the marketplace, and has a very low grilse rate."

Turning to markets, Rogers said that of the 50,000 tons of farmed salmon (valued at more than$500 million) produced in Norway in 1987, 10,000 were exported to the United States, 9,000 to France, 5,000 each to Denmark and Germany about 2,000 each to Sweden, Spain and Japan, and 1,500 to Britain. Some 82% of all Norwegian farmed salmon was marketed as premium, 12% as regular and only six percent as second-grade.

Salmon are good to work with, he noted, because they are anadromus, hatching in fresh water but living in salt water and then returning to fresh water to spawn. "Consequently, they were the first fish that we could learn hatchery techniques from and develop hatchery techniques around. Having mastered many of the early rearing techniques in fresh water, our abilities to culture the salt water phase grew most rapidly."

Culturing purely marine fish is a lot harder, he said, because all the experimentation and development must be carried out in a salt water environment. Still, the 1980's have seen considerable research and development: Norway has been working with halibut and cod--so far, Roger admits, "the reality of farming cod is that the hatchery techniques being developed appear to be very expensive," perhaps even prohibitive --while France and Spain are trying their luck with sea bass sea bream, turbot, sole and mullet.

Sea bass has a natural market in the Mediterranean countries, where the minimum market size is about 10 ounces, and it commands a price of $3 to $8 a pound. Optimum culture is in lagoons, ponds or cages at a temperature of about 22|C. A related species, striped bass, is being cultured in the U.S. Sea bream has the same basic pricing pattern, and is raised under the same conditions. White bream, striped bream and red bream are also suitable for farming.

Mullet is also marketed in the Mediterranean, especially Italy and Spain, where it fetches $1 to $3 a pound; minimum market size is 10 to 12 ounces. It is grown at 22|C, but only in lagoons and ponds, not cages. Turbot, marketed in France Spain and northern Europe, sells at $3 to $7 a pound, and minimum market size is two pounds. It is grown at 19|C, mostly in ponds but some in cages. Sole can be sold practically anywhere at an average $5 a pound, with minimum size eight or ten ounces. It is grown at 22| and is cultured best in extensive ponds, but can be raised in high-density flow systems.

Eels, farmed intensively or extensively in ponds at 24|C, are marketed mostly in Europe at $3 to $5 a pound, minimum eight ounces. Still other species include yellowtail, raised mostly in cages in Japan; milk fish in ponds and enclosures in Southeast Asia, and tilapia. Other commercial species Rogers believes could be farmed include grouper, snapper and dolphin fish. Still other species in the Middle East and Australia, although little known, could be candidates for farming, he said.
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Title Annotation:change in eating habits
Publication:Quick Frozen Foods International
Date:Jan 1, 1989
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