Can a Fish Farm Be “Green”? | The Fish on My Plate | FRONTLINE
I first met Steve Damato about eight years ago, and he sort of struck me as this kind of funky hippy food dude, but he’s also a businessman. Everyone talks in the environmental movement about the triple bottom line. In other words, you want to have a business that’s economically sustainable, socially sustainable, and environmentally sustainable. If anybody’s going to make it with triple bottom line, Steve might be that guy. When you look at what are the big threats to the ocean, what are they?>>People.>>GREENBERG: People, sure. But I mean…>>It’s just, we are so many of us. Salmon farming is not the biggest problem. It’s trying to feed all the people that are the problem, and unfortunately, the world community looks at the fish in the oceans and says, “It’s mine just as much as it is yours, and I’m going to take it.” But what we need to do is, figure out how to farm the ocean intelligently and also economically, and it’s not… Salmon is one of the species. And salmon might not be the best species by far. But salmon has become better and better and better and more and more efficient. And so if we can do that to salmon, we can produce plenty of fish in the ocean to feed the nine billion people that are coming.>>GREENBERG: This is the tiny island of Kvarøy, near the Arctic Circle. Only 70 people live here. This is where Damato believes you can see where salmon farming should be headed.>>The industry was terrible in the beginning.>>GREENBERG: How were they terrible?>>Oh, site locations were based on convenience, not on any science on what it was doing to the environment. Escapes was, you know, not looked at as a big deal. Sea lice were, you know, thought of as a problem that eventually would go away. And then nobody cared about how much protein they were using to make protein. So those are… you know, it’s a brand-new industry. They needed criticism, and the environmental NGOs served a really important purpose by criticizing them, and they responded.>>GREENBERG: And so what makes this farm so special?>>They are innovative. They recognize they’re not going to be the biggest guy in the industry. They don’t want to be, but they want to be the most innovative and creative one. And our feed projects are a perfect example of that.>>GREENBERG: For feed, instead of relying on a reduction fishery, like Peruvian anchoveta, they’re using the offcuts from other commercial fisheries. And Alf says they’ve taken that one step further by stripping away what are called persistent organic pollutants, contaminants that gather in both wild and farmed fish.>>What we have done with our salmon feed is just cleaning all of that out of the feed because… also because we use the trimmings from the production, it’s a more fatty part of the fish, of the wild fish, so it includes more PCBs and POBs…>>GREENBERG: Because PCBs, like, stick to fat.>>Yeah, it sticks to fat. So what we do, we clean it 100% to make sure that we have only all cleaned oil in it, in the feed.>>GREENBERG: So this is a particularly clean…>>This is very clean. This is probably the cleanest feed you can get for salmon.>>GREENBERG: Well, if it’s clean, then I’ll take a try. It’s kind of like a fishy, um, Dorito. (laughing) I would say. I can see it now– Doritos, new salmon feed flavor. (both laughing) That could be a big hit. Oh, what the heck? I’ll finish it. Mmm…>>It’s good, it’s good.>>GREENBERG: Just knock it back with, like, a kelp beer, and I think the whole thing would be a great package.>>(laughing): Yeah.>>GREENBERG: What are you guys doing that’s different from everybody else?>>We don’t use any chemicals. We don’t use antibiotics. We use a natural colorant, fermented bacteria that we have in our feed called Panaferd to make the salmon red. And also we have a lower density in our pens.>>GREENBERG: And they’re deploying the industry’s latest weaponry against the dreaded sea lice.>>We farm our own lumpsucker and using it as a parasite control.>>GREENBERG: I have to say that this is an exceptionally cute fish. Well, go be free and eat some sea lice.>>That is the hiding place for the lumpsuckers, and they will suck onto the fake seaweed, and they will stay inside this hiding, and when the salmon comes in, it will swim into the hiding, and the lumpsucker will come and clean the lice off the salmon. So even a day after we put out this fake seaweed, the salmon understands the meaning of it and comes in, get cleaned, go out.>>GREENBERG: Sort of like a car going into the car wash.>>Yeah, it’s like a car going into the car wash.>>GREENBERG: Now, like some other farms, they’re adding omega-3s from algae rather than fish– all changes that Damato says the rest of the industry can afford to follow.>>If consumers want it and if consumers demand it, they can do it. You’ve asked the question, can we scale it up, can we scale it up? Well, we have the third-largest feed manufacturer in aquaculture in the world working with us. That’s scalable. And it’s not going to be, like, oh, my God, now they’re losing money. It’s obscene how much money they’re making. I mean, it’s a commodity, and they’re doubling their money, legally, because there’s illegal commodities that don’t even make that kind of profit.