Aug. 15 - Companies which make up 70 percent of the world's salmon farm production have united to tackle the environmental challenges facing their industry. Andrew Potter reports.
These circles at sea in Norway contain a small segment of a rapidly growing industry. Farming salmon only began 40 years ago, but global demand for foods rich in protein means it's worth more than $5 billion a year. Now 15 companies who generate nearly three quarters of the world's farmed salmon are teaming up to form the Global Salmon Initiative. Alf-Helge Aarskog is its co-chairman. SOUNDBITE: ALF-HELGE AARSKOG, CO-CHAIRMAN, GLOBAL SALMON INITIATIVE, SAYING (ENGLISH): "We know that we have faced some sustainability issues in the salmon farming sector. By collaborating on the environment, getting a clean environment for the fish, the fish will grow better and we'll make more money." Run badly, the farms produce waste and spread disease, hurting the local ecosystem. The Global Salmon Initiative aims to fix the mistakes of the past, and make the industry more open to environmental scrutiny. Population pressure on food supplies is increasing. Those who farm salmon say their industry will become of much greater importance, and point out it uses far less energy than the farming of meat on land. SOUNDBITE: ALF-HELGE AARSKOG, CO-CHAIRMAN, GLOBAL SALMON INITIATIVE, SAYING (ENGLISH): "I think more and more food will come from the ocean. The salmon farming industry is not a huge industry but we have the possibility to grow and also to farm other species for the future and really can be part of solving the food issue on this planet." The United Nations says much of the world's fish stocks caught using traditional methods are either at their limit or over-fished. So expect to see more of these floating farms. The World Wildlife Fund has endorsed the initiative, welcoming an industry which appears to be taking steps to limit its footprint in some of the world's most environmentally sensitive areas.