Nordic Aquafarms fight back against “confusing” analysis on indoor salmon farms

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The Organic Consumers Association strongly oppose the $400 million land-based salmon farm in Belfast, Maine.

A non-profit advocacy group for organic agriculture has released an analysis arguing the way the fish are fed, even on indoor farms, isn’t sustainable.

However, Nordic Aquafarms, the Norwegian-based company with big plans to open a $400 million land-based salmon farm in next year dismissed the analysis, with experts deeming it “misleading” according to Bangor Daily News.

Potentially unhealthy method
Claudette Bethune, a PhD medical scientist who works for a pharmaceutical company, wrote the analysis for the Organic Consumers Association, which has over 1.7 million followers on Facebook.

Criticising the project, Bethune said “it is clear that the results related to fish feed do not support the typical claims that closed-containment salmon farming operations can produce sustainable or more nutritious products than conventional salmon aquaculture.”

Bethune outlined that she believed that salmon farming “is an inefficient, unsustainable and potentially unhealthy method of providing fish for human consumption” while arguing that “farmed salmon accumulate more toxins such as PCBs and other pesticides from feed than do farmed land animals” and that salmon “accumulate more toxins such as PCBs and other pesticides from feed than do farmed land animals.”

Mixing the two
“Activists are mixing the two together,” Nordic Aquafarms told the publication. “Land-based farming solves many of the historical challenges associated with net pens, including high discharge, fish escapes, sea lice, threat to wild salmon, use of the public’s open ocean areas and more.”

On Bethune’s criticism of fish feed putting increased demand on the world’s oceans, Erik Heim’s company said: “The feed industry is continuously innovating and improving to be sustainable and to meet the future needs of the industry, and ultimately the consumers,” the company said in a release

Educated audience
Furthermore Ian Bricknell, a professor of aquaculture biology and founding director of the University of Maine’s Aquaculture Research Institute, told the publication that the analysis was “confusing and misleading.”

“If it was going to an educated audience, this was dubious at best and should really be disregarded,” he said. “But the problem is it isn’t going to an educated audience. It’s probably going to the public, and it’s one of the ones that’s fueling the misinformation, by taking scientific information, confusing it and saying that everything’s up in the air.”