Sustainable isn't a word most people associate with salmon farming. Given the industry's widely documented problems with pollution, sea lice, disease and its threat to wild fish stocks, many environmentally conscious consumers have dropped farmed salmon from their grocery lists altogether.
A new farmed Atlantic salmon that's marketed as less polluting and more environmentally friendly is poised to change the future of aquaculture. But how sustainable is it?
Canada's largest grocery retailer, Loblaw Cos. Ltd., announced last week it will sell WiseSource salmon, supplied by New Brunswick's True North Salmon Co., which is raised using "integrated multi-trophic aquaculture," or IMTA. The environment mimics the natural ecosystem and includes other species, such as mussels and seaweed, that feed off the waste and can also be harvested and sold.
Thierry Chopin, a professor of marine biology at the University of New Brunswick who has been leading the research on IMTA, says Loblaw's decision provides commercial validation for this experimental method.
"We are always told that [as] scientists, we like to be in the ivory towers," he said. "Well, we've left the towers and we're having an impact on the evolution of aquacultural practices."