Just a few years ago, someone touting the commercial viability of raising fish exclusively on land would have raised a lot of eyebrows. Today, the general attitude toward land-based fish farms – in various forms and sizes – is optimistic, particularly for salmon.
By Mari-Len De Guzman
Analysts are predicting rapid growths in land-based aquaculture systems with production volumes expected in the hundreds of thousands. A new report from Norwegian financing firm DNB estimates up to 500,000 tonnes of salmon will be produced annually from land-based systems by 2026. While salmon seems to be the species of choice for major RAS deployments, a number of aquaculture companies are now looking at expanding their land-based operations to other species. Among them, the high-value Yellowtail appears to be yielding successful outcomes in various operations.
What’s driving this shift are the ongoing challenges and the rising costs associated with traditional fish farming. Added to this equation is a growing number of consumers becoming more sophisticated with their buying decisions and are likely to support socially responsible organizations.
A report published by market analyst Shelton Group titled, “Brands & Stands: Social purpose is the new black,” found that 64 percent of consumers are likely to buy from companies that stand for social issues. In its 2015 Global Corporate Sustainability Report, Nielsen found 66 percent of consumers are willing to pay more for products associated with a sustainable brand. Clearly, there is a business case for sustainable corporate practices, and consumers are poised to reward these activities through their pocketbooks.
Today, sustainability is no longer a trend but a market reality, especially in food production. The increasing global demand for food has made traditional seafood production unsustainable and driven companies to respond and adapt. Investments in sustainable aquaculture ventures have also increased in recent years, which paved the way for new projects commencing in various parts of the world that would further increase production output from land-based fish farms.
It is no longer a question of whether land-based aquaculture is commercially viable. Many ongoing and planned projects are already making the case for commercial viability. The question now is whether organizations are willing to take on this challenge and move toward a meaningful direction for long-term growth.
Investments on sustainable production are trending upward and the market is optimistic. Research and development initiatives are continuing to pursue ways and means to enhance and improve the viability of sustainable aquaculture.
The global movement toward sustainability is only going to increase. Best to catch the wave or risk wiping out.