King Salmon


Latin name: Oncorhynchus tshawytscha


Common name: Chinook Salmon

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Farmed

Region:
New Zealand

Key Facts

  • King or chinook salmon is a non-native species that is farmed in sea cages and man-made freshwater canals in New Zealand.
  • The majority of king salmon is produced in marine sea cages. The effects of waste from salmon farms on the areas surrounding sea cages have been studied and appear to have minor and short-lived impacts on the marine environment.
  • The impacts of salmon farming in freshwater are minimal.
  • Antibiotics, pesticides and copper-based chemicals (to prevent the growth of marine invertebrates and algae on nets) are not used in NZ.
  • King salmon are carnivorous fish that are dependent on wild caught fish that is manufactured into fish feed. The amount of wild-caught fish used in feed is currently more than the weight of salmon produced, resulting in a net burden on wild fish stocks, although AMCS understands that feed manufacturers are working to produce feeds with lower quantities of wild caught fish.
  • Dolphin and NZ fur seal deaths from entanglement with sea cages have been recorded, but total numbers are low and unlikely to have a significant effect on populations.

More information

  • NZ (Approximately 90t imported to Australia in 2017)

King, or chinook salmon, is a non-native species of salmon farmed by different companies in fresh and marine water in New Zealand. It is the only species farmed in NZ, and this rating applies to both farming sectors. Salmon farming in NZ is a small-scale industry, relative to both Australian and global salmon farming.

The majority of king salmon are farmed in sea cages that are open to the ocean, and any waste from the farm is washed into the surrounding water. The effects of waste from salmon farms on the areas surrounding sea cages have been studied and appear to have minor and short-lived impacts on the marine environment. A smaller amount of king salmon is farmed in net pens in freshwater hydro-canals (canals that were built for hydropower), with sediment waste from the salmon farm captured and therefore separated from the marine and other freshwater environments. The amount of solid waste that can be produced by the farms is also capped. Overall, salmon farming in NZ has minimal impacts on surrounding environments.

Disease outbreaks have not been recorded in the NZ king salmon farming industry, and antibiotics and other pesticides have so far not been used. Copper based anti-foulant paints, which are used in other countries (not including Australia) to prevent the growth of marine invertebrates and algae on sea cages, are not used in NZ.

King salmon is a carnivorous species, and requires fish protein in formulated fish feed. Feed manufacturers use fish caught in the wild as a part of the feed used in salmon farms. The amount of wild-caught fish used in feed is currently more than the weight of salmon produced, although AMCS understands that feed manufacturers are working to produce feeds with lower quantities of wild caught fish.

Interactions with endangered wildlife have been recorded in the marine farming sector, including with bottlenose and Hector’s dolphins. Hector’s dolphins are unique to NZ and endangered. Overall dolphin deaths are low, with a total of eight recorded in three decades. The major threat to Hector’s dolphins is capture in trawl and gillnet fisheries, and deaths from interactions with sea cages are relatively insignificant. Approximately 2-3 New Zealand fur seals die each year at salmon farming sites; it is highly unlikely this number of deaths is significant at a population level. In addition, the salmon farming industry has modified nets to reduce the risk of interactions.

There are no native species present in man-made hydro-canals where freshwater farming takes place. There have been no reported deaths of diving birds, and the net pens are covered to prevent birds becoming trapped in the nets.

Juvenile king salmon are deliberately released by the NZ government to support recreational fisheries. The risk of farmed king salmon affecting the NZ marine environment through escapes is minimal compared to the deliberate stocking of king salmon in NZ waterways. No disease outbreaks have been recorded in salmon farms.