Sat, May 14, 2016 - Page 5 News List

Viable local salmon farming developed

BRED IN TAIWAN:The method uses cold seawater used to convert liquefied natural gas to gas, breeds the fish faster than anywhere else in the world and is cheaper than imports

By Chen Wei-han  /  Staff reporter

Researchers have developed a method to farm Atlantic salmon in Taiwan’s subtropical climate using cold, clean seawater generated while processing liquefied natural gas, and locally farmed salmon is expected to be on the market in three years at two-thirds the price of imported salmon.

Taiwanese consume about 20,000 tonnes of Atlantic salmon every year, all of which are imported, with the annual domestic demand estimated at NT$5 billion (US$154.98 million), Fisheries Agency Director-General Tsay Tzu-yaw (蔡日耀) said on Wednesday.

With that much demand, the agency wanted to develop a local salmon farming industry, but Taiwan’s warm climate is unsuitable for breeding the cold-water species, and it consumes a large amount of energy to cool water to raise salmon, which is neither cost-effective nor environmentally friendly, Tsay said.

However, there is a readily available and inexpensive source of cold seawater at state-run oil refiner CPC Corp, Taiwan’s Yongan Liquefied Natural Gas Plant in Kaohsiung, which uses a large amount of seawater to convert liquefied natural gas at minus-162oC to a gaseous state to be distributed as pipeline natural gas, and the agency has run a salmon farming program utilizing the cooling effect of the conversion.

National Taiwan Ocean University professor Nan Fan-hua (冉繁華), director of the agency’s program, said salmon breed best in water between 6oC and 16oC, and the team has developed a technique to keep the hatching rate of fish eggs and fry survival rate at 100 percent when water temperature is kept stable.

“We have developed the fastest salmon farming technique in the world. It takes us only 10 days to grow fry to the smolt phase to be taken out of freshwater tanks to seawater tanks. It takes about two-and-a-half years to grow salmon to market size, while it takes more than three years in other salmon-farming countries,” Nan said.

The team is able to raise salmon so quickly because water temperatures can be maintained at constant levels so fish can grow in the most suitable conditions without seasonal variations, and because the team has made good use of the nation’s famed grouper farming techniques, with many of the salmon-growing facilities and management system directly borrowed from grouper farms, Nan said.

It will take about two years to cultivate brood fish for reproduction, and one more year to grow salmon on a commercial scale, he said, adding that locally farmed salmon will be cheaper than imported salmon by at least one-third.

The wholesale price of salmon is between NT$200 and NT$250 per kilogram, the agency said.

“While it will still take some time for locally bred salmon to hit the market, it is 100 percent certain that we have the ability to breed the fish on a commercial scale. It is hoped that local salmon can completely replace imports,” Tsay said.

Taiwan’s grouper industry is facing increased competition from China, and the nation has to diversify its aquaculture to boost competitiveness, he added.

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