By now you’ve surely heard about open-net pen salmon farms in British Columbia and how much of a negative impact they seem to be having on our wild salmon stocks (BACKGROUND). For the past two years I’ve been following the story of Kuterra, a brand of land-based, closed-pen salmon that was created as a direct counter. It’s a fish farm experiment being conducted by the Namgis first nation on Vancouver Island and I was thrilled to attend a lunch put on by the Pacific Salmon Foundation last week to learn all about it.
Garry Ullstrom (pictured below in the middle), presented us with a ton of facts about the first land-based Atlantic salmon farm in Canada. The Namgis’ land is surrounded by the highest concentration of open-net pen salmon farms in BC, and they’ve grown more and more concerned about the impact they’ve had over the years. They recently decided to launch this project as a tester to see if it’s feasible to farm fish in this way, which is arguably much more sustainable than the open-net pen method. Basically they’ve built an indoor facility where they raise the salmon, as opposed to having nets where they raise them in open water, and the PSF has been brought on as an independent environmental monitor.
PSF CEO Brian Riddell, Kuterra CEO Garry Ullstrom and PSF Director of Special Projects Terry Tebb
There are no hormones, antibiotics or pesticides used on these fish, and by putting them into ideal conditions they’ve figured out how to grow them to full maturity (about 5kg) in just over a year. They’re going to break 400 tons of annual salmon production and are proving the business model for sustainable salmon farms which will hopefully be the wave of the future.
But what you really want to know is how they taste, right? Well, they’re just as delicious as any salmon I’ve tasted, and I’ve had it all. Right now they’re available exclusively at Safeway Canada and in restaurants like Yew Seafood + Bar. Chef Ned Bell has been putting them on regular specials lately, like this a-ha-mazing chowder dish he served me the other day, so get down there to try it out.
Chef Ned Bell’s take on Kuterra
Learn more at Kuterra.com.