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Land-based systems

Sustainable salmon farming



How it works

Land-based fish farming was first developed in the 1950s in Japan, then in the 1970s and 80s in Europe. Early systems were designed for eels and other species, then Atlantic salmon gradually became the world's most valuable aquaculture species and research began to investigate the feasibility of land-based salmon farming. Land-based systems were first used as hatcheries to grow young salmon (smolts) that would be transferred to open netpens for grow-out to commercial size. Recently, technologies were finally developed to grow salmon from start to finish on land.


Land-based systems involve an array of tanks linked by pipes to pumping and filtration systems. Water flows through and can be re-circulated with clean, oxygenated water for optimum health of salmon. Up to 99.9% of water can be recycled and the whole system is separated from the marine environment. These systems are often referred to as recirculating aquaculture systems, or RAS for short!


Key advantages

Why land-based systems protect wild rivers and wild salmon

  1. No salmon escapes – Salmon escapes can occur from open net-pens and affect wild salmon populations. Because land-based systems are closed and separate from the marine environment, escapes do not occur.

  2. No diseases released – The transfer of diseases and pathogens from net-pen salmon to wild salmon puts pressure on wild populations. Critical diseases, pathogens, and pests, such as sea lice, piscine reovirus, and amoebic gill disease are not released from closed, land-based systems that are separated from the marine environment.

  3. No marine waste – Salmon feces and unused feed fall to the seafloor beneath netpens causing oxygen depletion in the water as it biodegrades. Waste from land-based systems is filtered from the system and can be turned into fertilizer to grow other crops.

  4. No chemical release – The release of harmful chemicals and substances into the marine environment may include anti-fouling products used to keep net-pen cages clean and chemicals used to treat diseases and sea lice infestations. This release does not occur in land-based systems where these chemicals and treatments are not needed, and the system is separated from the marine environment.

  5. No marine contaminants – Land-based systems are not open to marine waters that may contain pollutants from industry, agriculture run-off, and untreated sewage flows from communities. The water used in land-based systems is purified and filtered for healthy salmon growth.

  6. No wildlife interactions – Land-based systems are completely closed in buildings separate from the marine environment. Consequently, there are no interactions with marine predators such as seals, sea lions, or birds that prey on salmon for food.

Where to buy land-raised salmon

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Click on a marker to see more details about that retailer and where to buy their products.

Contact Us

The Atlantic Salmon Federation (ASF) is a world-leading science and advocacy organization dedicated to conserving and restoring wild Atlantic salmon.


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