In recent years, the U.S. fishing industry has undergone significant changes. Fisheries and fishing companies require assistance to keep up with the annual increase in demand. Wild fish populations are declining due to climate change, and aquaculture farms lack the biomaterial needed to set up production. Due to sanctions, fish shipments from abroad have significantly declined, further exacerbating the shortage situation. Prices for fish such as silver salmon, chum, sockeye salmon, pink salmon, and chinook salmon have almost doubled compared to the previous year. The population and businessmen are deeply concerned about this state of affairs. If the situation does not change soon, salmon will become a rare and expensive delicacy.
The situation is of even greater concern for the Jewish American population, as salmon species that meet all kashrut requirements are becoming increasingly difficult to acquire. With general shortages, it is becoming harder to obtain coho, chum, sockeye, pink salmon, and chinook salmon of adequate quality.
Although it is possible to influence the population of wild salmon species, it has been a task for many years. Solving the problem will require a comprehensive approach that requires the joint action of all stakeholders. This work is essential and necessary, first and foremost, to preserve the ecosystem of the fishing regions. But in the short term, such an approach will not produce the desired result.
A faster and more effective solution to the problem of the resulting deficit would be the development of aquaculture enterprises. Farms specialising in the artificial breeding of salmonid fish can produce quite large volumes of products. However, only some aquaculture farms can carry out their activity without harming the environment.
The fact is that traditional salmon farms organise fish farming systems in coastal waters, which can cause significant harm to the entire ecosystem. In particular, aqua farms have a negative impact on wild fish populations. Under artificial reproduction conditions, fish live in rather cramped cages. If one individual gets sick, the entire population suffers. Since the farm is not entirely isolated from the water area but is located within it, diseases are often transferred to wild fish as well. Additionally, ecologists are concerned about the wastes that are formed in fish farms of this type. Compound feed, saturated with nutritional chemical elements for fast fish growth, gets into the water together with waste products. This can provoke abnormal growth of algae and other microorganisms and lead to ecological imbalance.
However, it is possible to establish the supply of salmon and fish products to the shelves and restaurants without harming the ecosystem. In the last three years, thanks to the work of scientists and biologists from Israel, Switzerland, and America, a new type of aqua farm was developed – INLAND RAC. Such farms are completely isolated from the environment and can be located hundreds of miles away from water bodies. The ecosystem for salmon reproduction is maintained by a constant inflow of fresh water. Among the benefits of the innovative system are the conservation of the environment, control of fish health, and a clearly predictable harvest. In addition, thanks to the activities of such facilities, salmon populations in the wild are preserved and replenished. Among the disadvantages of the new type of farm is the high cost of organising production – tens of millions of dollars are required to launch the enterprise.
More so, the aquaculture industry is facing yet another problem – the shortage of fish eggs for breeding. The situation has worsened since last year, and it is likely to persist. The decline in the wild salmon population has reduced the supply of fish eggs to aquaculture farms. Biomaterial that is reproduced in artificial conditions is not enough to fully utilise the production capacity of enterprises.
Bering Seafood has completed the engineering planning and permitting process to launch an INLAND RAC-type farm in northeastern Pennsylvania by late 2024 or early 2025. This location is away from regions with environmental problems and has the ideal climatic characteristics for salmon farming. The farm will provide 100 jobs for the region and is expected to produce more than 15 million pounds of various salmon species, including coho, chum, sockeye, pink, and chinook salmon, per year. These volumes are sufficient to meet market demand and address the shortage.
The project plan includes the construction of the enterprise within the next six months. However, the shortage of fish eggs could delay the development of the farm project indefinitely. Despite the large investments required at the planning stage, the lack of biomaterial for the reproduction of salmon jeopardises the implementation of the project.
Currently, no domestic commercial breeding companies offer year-round salmon roe to U.S. producers. Bering Seafood has a solution – the project managers are willing to organise the supply of fish eggs from the Kamchatka Peninsula. This location houses the only fishing plant in the world, “Vostochny Bereg,” which has a kosher certificate and operates in accordance with all kashrut requirements. Additionally, Kamchatka is ecologically clean and optimal for wild salmon reproduction. The natural resources of the area include pure rivers, lakes, volcanoes, waterfalls, and glaciers. The waters of Kamchatka are home to various wild salmon species, including coho, chum, sockeye, pink, and chinook salmon. Bering Seafood is ready to arrange the delivery of eggs from these fish species to farms in the United States.
Once the supply of biomaterial from Kamchatka is established, there will be enough raw material not only to start the Bering Seafood aquafarm but also for many other fish farms. Enterprises will have the opportunity to breed high-quality fish in sufficient volumes.
A licence from the U.S. government for importing salmon eggs from the Kamchatka Peninsula is necessary for organising the supplies. Once the document is obtained, the situation in the kosher fish market in the U.S. will begin to stabilise. Prices will gradually normalise, and the population will once again have access to salmon family fish, valued for their composition and set of nutrients.