Latin names: Salmo salar
Common Names: Salmon, Tasmanian Salmon, Smoked Salmon
Farmed - Australia
Atlantic salmon is a non-native species farmed in Tasmanian waters. In 2012, farmed Atlantic salmon became the highest value and volume fisheries product from Australia, with nearly 44,000 tonnes produced in 2011-12.
In recent years Atlantic salmon producers in Tasmania have made significant progress in addressing environmental concerns. Public reporting by companies involved in salmon production has improved, giving the public better access to and understanding of farming operations. They have also been proactive in identifying and taking action on issues that could impact the environment.
Atlantic salmon is a carnivorous species, and the fish require moderate amounts of fish protein in formulated fish feed. Feed manufacturers use fish caught in the wild as a part of the feed used in salmon farms. The amount of wild-caught fish used in feed is currently more than the weight of salmon produced, although feed manufacturers are working to produce feeds with lower quantities of wild caught fish. It is likely that the companies producing salmon in Tasmania will achieve the goal of being net protein producers in the coming years, meaning they should produce more weight of farmed fish than is contained in the fish feed.
Atlantic salmon are farmed in sea cages that are open to the ocean, and any waste from the farm is washed into surrounding water. The effects of waste have been studied on the areas surrounding sea cages and appear to have minor and short-lived impacts on seafloor dwelling species; sea cages are also rotated so that areas below the cages are allowed to recover. Analysis of the ecological impacts of the salmon farming industry on a broader geographical scale has only recently been undertaken. Results indicate that salmon farm effluent does ‘fertilise’ surrounding seawater; nutrients from fish waste increase algal growth around the cages, although the long-term effects of this are not clear from available reports.
Companies have banned the use of copper based anti-foulant paints used on the sea cages, which are toxic to invertebrates and algae. Farms have also reduced antibiotic use to treat disease.
Australian fur seal interactions have previously been of concern in some areas where salmon farm are located around Tasmania, through seals attempting to break into the sea cages to feed on the farmed fish; seals have been euthanized or relocated, or have drowned from getting entangled in sea cage nets. Through modifications to net designs, producers have managed to reduce interaction rates, and have committed to no longer euthanize or relocate seals unless human health is at risk.
NOTE: Imported farmed Atlantic salmon is available in Australia but has not been assessed in the Seafood Guide. For more information on imported product, look for country of origin labelled on the packaging and refer to seafood guides produced in that country.