What is Salmon Farming?

Salmon aquaculture (farming) is the industrial production of salmon from egg to market in a net-cage, pond or contained system. Most of the industry still uses open net-cages in the ocean, and these floating feedlots hold up to a million fish in an area the size of two football fields.

In BC, the open net-cages are generally sited in sheltered bays along the coast in close proximity to wild salmon streams and rivers.

Salmon Farm Facts

  • A salmon farm is likely to hold 500,000 to 750,000 fish in an area the size of four football fields.
  • The biomass of farmed salmon at one farm site can equal 480 Indian bull elephants – that is 2,400 tonnes of eating, excreting livestock.
  • Salmon are carnivores. On average it takes two to five kilograms of wild fish (used in feed) to produce one kilogram of farmed salmon.
  • In one study, over a billion sea lice eggs were produced by just twelve farms in a two week period. preceding the out-migration of wild juvenile salmon.1
  • Infection with one to three sea lice can kill a wild juvenile pink salmon.2
  • In British Columbia alone there are approximately 136 salmon farm licenses with over 85 farms active at any given time.
  • Canada and Chile are the two primary sources of farmed salmon for American consumers.3
  • Two-thirds of the salmon consumed by Americans is farm-raised.3
  • The government and industry would like to see BC farmed salmon production double within the next 10 years — that means twice the toll on our oceans, wild fish and coastal livelihoods.

Learn more about the history of salmon farming in BC, the environmental, economic, and human health impacts of commercial-scale salmon farming. Find out how salmon farms affect First Nations communities and about CAAR’s solutions.


1 Orr, C. (2007). Estimated sea louse egg production from Marine Harvest Canada farmed Atlantic salmon in the Broughton Archipelago, British Columbia, 2003-2004. North American Journal of Fisheries Management. 27:187-197.

2 Morton, A. and R. D. Routledge (2005). Mortality rates for Juvenile Pink Oncorhynchus gorbushca and Chum O. keta salmon infested with Sea Lice Lepeophtheirus salmonis in the Broughton Archipelago. The Alaska Fisheries Research Bulletin. 11(2): 146-152

3 The Great Salmon Run (2007). World Wildlife Fund US.