Agriculture and Environment: Salmon
Better Management Practices: Encourage Organic Net-Cage Production
An organic net-cage operation in Canada had 30% losses of salmon during the grow-out phase of production compared to the industry average of 20%.
Despite these high mortalities, the operation also had lower-than-normal production costs since it was not buying chemicals. More importantly, the product fetched a higher market price.
Product on the farm is harvested each week so as not saturate markets; some 100 metric tons and sold each year. A non-organic producer operating on the same site could produce some 700 metric tons and still not have the same net profit.
While such an operation does not eliminate the dangers and impacts of escaped fish or the fish meal issue, the low-density production and lack of chemicals cause the system to have considerably lower environmental impacts than the standard net cage production system. Total production by volume, however, is only about 15% of the standard system operating on the same area (Ellis and Associates 1996).