Organic food consumption is rapidly increasing. The heightened interest in the global environment and a willingness to look after our fellow humans has resulted in a $30 billion dollar market in America alone. It can also be a lucrative business for those farmers involved in organic farming. The right to call their produce organic is not always easily granted.
Those who do earn the right can increase the price they ask for their produce immediately. Fish farming has been a difficult process to classify under organic and it has taken many years to create a suitably high standard set of standards by which any organic fish farmer must adhere.
Complications farmers must deal with
Organic farming has, traditionally, been a soil based activity. The rules around organic farming centre on how the soil is treated and these rules are not relevant to fish farms. The solution has been to rewrite the rule book to ensure there are suitable practices in place. Fish farmers who are able to adhere to these rules will be granted the right to call themselves organic. The initial guidelines will allow the diet of organic fish to contain up to 25% of conventionally grown material. This amount would reduce over so many years until it reached a minimal level. A particularly difficult part to monitor is the rule that all conventionally grown material must be certified as sustainable.
Ireland already has a set of rules for organic fish farms and they are incredibly strict. This is to ensure that Ireland’s organic salmon and other fish do not harm the reputation the country has built up for premium quality fish. The standards will also ensure the water quality in these farms remains high to ensure future salmon meet the premium quality standard. To be classed as organic each enclosure on a farm must have a ratio of 99% water to one salmon. There is a special diet which must be adhered to and a variety of environmentally friendly procedures to follow.
The best policy in the world is of little benefit if the standards are not checked and enforced. As part of this any member of the public may access all the data on any organic farm, via the BIM website. Should any concerns be raised they will be fully investigated and the findings reported back on the same site. On top of this, all organic farms will be closely monitored for their effect on the local and national environment. Additionally, there will be monitoring programs to aid understanding of the other creatures living in the same geographic area.
Proper equipment will be required for salmon to be raised organically in farms
All equipment on an organic farm will need to be the most advanced possible and must be installed in a way which minimizes any visual impact. This will also be regularly inspected and records of equipment maintenance will be confirmed.
Even the best run fish farm can experience unforeseen issues. Every farm must have a contingency plan in place to cover these incidents. More specific, identifiable risks; such as storm damage, outbreaks of disease, water pollution or even attacks on the fish by jellyfish should have their own detailed plan. This will ensure minimal harm to the environment and the least amount of exposure of any organic fish to uncontrolled variables.
Public concerns and viability
Public concerns should be kept to a minimum as all data will be available to the public. There is nothing hidden and all questions and concerns will be addressed promptly with the answers revealed publicly. To really be classed as organic all conditions will need to be monitored and regulated, this may well mean that only those farms separated from the ocean can really be considered organic farms.
Farmers and many authorities want to see an increase in organic farms but the regulations need to be fully decided before this can become a viable possibility. Bottom line is that salmon can be grown organically in farms; however, farmers will have to adhere to some pretty cut-throat rules. Providing that they can make that happen, the population has the greatest chances of eating fresh, healthy salmon directly from farms too, not just from the ocean.