Florida May Soon be Known as the Salmon State

by John Toth
(from Jersey Coast Anglers Association July 2018 Newsletter)

Most of us know about the harmful effects of aquaculture of farm-raised fish in pens off coastal waters. However, there is a new aquaculture for salmon that is land-based! I read an article about it in the Asbury Park Press (April 13, 2018) that I would like to share with you. This is not some theoretical idea of land-based aquaculture, but one that is already in operation in Denmark and will be operating in the near future in Florida. It is a new way of farming fish and may change Florida’s title of Sunshine State to the Salmon State!

Farm-raised salmon is a big business and it provides our country with a valuable food source. However, there are drawbacks to farm-raised salmon contained in pens in ocean waters and they include: sea lice, parasites and bacteria due to fish crowding, and harmful chemicals added to the water to kill these parasites. Disease outbreaks in salmon farms in Chile, China and Canada have wreaked havoc on this fishery. Also, fish escape from these pens and interbreed with stripers in the wild that result in negative changes to their genetic makeup.

There is a new form of aquaculture that raises fish ON LAND and not in pens in the ocean. Consequently, the problem with farm-raised salmon escaping from their pens into the ocean is eliminated. Also, salmon raised on land are not exposed to parasites/bacteria naturally found in ocean waters. This new technology is revolutionary and the people behind it are very serious in seeing it being developed in Florida and producing a large amount of salmon for America’s market.

Atlantic Sapphire, a Norwegian company that pioneered technology to farm salmon entirely on land, is building a salmon farm about an hour’s drive from Miami. CEO Johan Andreassen scouted 13 states for 2 ½ years before he spotted a YouTube video outlining Florida’s underground water system. The naturally occurring water system features the separate layers of fresh and salt water needed to raise salmon.

Atlantic Sapphire’s new technology represents the latest step toward farm-raised fish, a practice mired in controversy but growing worldwide. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, fish farming, known as “aquaculture,” has grown so rapidly that it now provides half the fish consumed by humans each year!

What makes Atlantic Sapphire’s technique unique is that the salmon go through their entire life cycle from egg to ready-to-eat adult in a contained above-ground water system. This is because South Florida has a unique geology that enables large scale salmon production on land. Underground, it has a layer of fresh water and another layer of salt water that is separated by a layer of soil. At the bottom of this is a Boulder zone, a porous cavernous region where municipalities pump their wastewater. Both freshwater and saltwater are pumped into tanks that are utilized for salmon production, and the treated wastewater is disposed into the Boulder zone region.

Atlantic Sapphire’s farm will stand on a 20-acre site. This company is building a series of water tanks connected by 67 miles of pipes, starting with smaller tanks for salmon eggs and increasing in size to 36 tanks that will hold 450,000 gallons of water each. The water will be cooled to 59 degrees and slowly transition from freshwater to saltwater to mimic the salmon’s life cycle. The entire site will be covered by a 400,000 square foot of roof designed to keep out the sun and withstand hurricane winds.

If all goes to plan, Atlantic Sapphire will crank out 10,000 metric tons of salmon by 2020. It has purchased 20 neighboring acres to expand further and has an option to buy 40 more acres. That would allow the company to produce 90,000 metric tons of salmon a year, about 10% of the U.S. market.

The company is already producing salmon on its first land-based farm in Denmark.

[News Contents] [Top]