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Want Cleaner, Healthier Salmon? Raise Them on Land

Sustainable fish farmers say rearing salmon far away from their wild cousins solves the problems of waste, parasites, and disease.
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Illustration: Baptiste Virot

In a small town near the coast of Nova Scotia, Canada, 200,000 Atlantic salmon—lean, firm, their persimmon-colored flesh endorsed by a famed Canadian chef for quality and taste—are being carefully tended for next year’s harvest. Some 2,000 miles south in a suburb of Miami, 2.5 million fish—10,000 metric tons—are being raised in saltwater pens for the same purpose. Nova Scotia’s Sustainable Blue and Florida’s Atlantic Sapphire ASA differ widely in scale but share a common ambition. Both are on the verge of doing something long considered almost impossible: turning a profit raising a premium Atlantic salmon that’s never touched the sea.

Expensive, technically difficult, and plagued with its own environmental challenges, salmon farming on land has so far been a niche industry producing a relatively expensive product. But its proponents say it offers the best shot over the long term at making a core food source if not fully sustainable, at least much more so than traditional marine-based farming.