Verlasso Salmon from Patagonia

Environmentally Focused Farm 

Verlasso Salmon farms are located in Patagonia with a dedication to responsible farming technique that minimizes the environmental impacts on our planet.  The largest component to reduced impact on the environment is the creation of a new salmon feed that reduces the dependency on wild fish.  Feeding farmed salmon the same baitfish that wild fish need to survive and thrive is not sustainable, especially as the aquaculture industry is currently growing at 5-13% each year.  This is a very important problem that we need solve on this planet, but it is not the only factor in sustainable fish farming.  Verlasso also takes into consideration fish waste management, pen density, escapement risk to native fish, and antibiotic dependencies.

Waste management within a fish farm is something that can have a positive effect, or can be compounded into a negative effect on nature.  Fish farming waste is either fish poop, or unused fish feed, both are fertilizers to the grounds beneath a fish farm.  Verlasso’s farm is located along the Humboldt Current, the fastest current in the Pacific that travels up the coast of Chile from Antarctica, in waters 60-90 meters (200-300ft) deep.  The current and depth disperse the fish waste to have a smaller effect on a larger area.  This allows nature to consume much of the waste.  Verlasso Pens are also left to fallow for 3-6 months after a salmon harvest.  The pens are removed from the water and the area is left to regenerate naturally.  Before Verlasso workers bring back the pens with new smolt to feed and grow a new harvest, a marine biologist tests both the water and bottom soils to ensure the region has been returned to its original condition.

Fish farming can have less of an ecological impact than land based farming for the simple reason that aquatic farmers don’t have to start their farming process with plowing down a native area to then plant a new crop.  Aquatic farms hover on the surface of the water without any immediate effect to the environment.  Verlasso floating pens are made with a steel alloy double netting system that has had a track record of ZERO fish escapements.  The steel netting looks out of place at first, but within a week the natural algae and marine mollusks latch onto the steel to create a natural ecosystem within the pen. 

Verlasso has on average 4 fish per cubic ton of water, or imagine 1 fish in a 60 foot long and 20 foot deep aquarium.  This is among the lowest fish densities within the industry, and has a direct correlation to stronger healthier fish.  Salmon farming is not very different from cattle or pork in the way that there are many different farm types.  Cattle may be raised on acres of open grasslands in Iowa, or they can be confined to a small feedlot.  When multiple animals are confined into a small space, they are more likely to get sick.  To prevent farms with high densities of animals from getting sick, a regular dosage of antibiotics is given to prevent sickness.  This is known as preventative anti-biotics, and is never used as a practice by Verlasso.  Verlasso’s goal is to be antibiotic free, but there are occasional times when the veterinarian prescribes an antibiotic to diagnosed fish, in the same way that our pets may need help from a doctor’s prescription.  Many of Verlasso’s fish never receive antibiotics through their entire growth cycle, and none of their fish ever receive growth hormones.

Verlasso DishThe low densities of fish per volume of water give the salmon an opportunity to swim.  Verlasso salmon have a body structure and omega 3 levels that are more inline with a healthy wild fish than the common plump fatty salmon that we have become accustomed too.  Verlasso salmon it excellent raw.  Most farmed salmon are served sashimi with an excessive fat content that often has a sinew-like toughness between the orange flesh and white fat of a fillet.  Verlasso has a tender clean bite that won’t get hung-up in your mouth when you take a half-bite of nigiri.  It also does not have the typical oily tongue that can overtake one’s pallet, the aftertaste is very mild and pleasant.

Verlasso’s feed is unique to the aquaculture industry.  They have created a feed that reduces the dependency of wild fish, which is hugely important to the health of our oceans.  Most aquaculture farms use 4-6 pounds of wild fish to grow 1 pound of farmed fish, Verlasso uses 75% less than the industry average.  Their ratio is 1# of wild feeder fish to grow 1# of farmed salmon.  Most of the wild fish caught for fish food are small baitfish like capelin, herring, mackerel, and menhaden.  The world turned to Peru for their fish meal, but in the second season of 2014 Peru shut their doors in efforts to avoid an overharvest that could lead to a collapse of their ocean wildlife.   The demands of wild fish meal and fish oil with the top 5 countries grew by 24% in the first half of 2015, and the demands will continue as the aquaculture industry grows rapidly throughout the world (learn more about fish meal and fish oil here: ).  Learn more about the details of Verlasso’s fish feed here

Verlasso salmon is the only Atlantic Salmon farmed in open ocean pens to receive a “good alternative” stamp of approval by Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch.  With approximately 70 percent of the worlds salmon now farm raised, it’s important to ask yourself what salmon you are using, and why.  At Northeast Seafood Products, we appreciate Verlasso for taking on the responsibility of environmental stewardship and allowing us the opportunity to buy Verlasso to be a part of the solution.

Chad Pettrone
Sustainability Director
Northeast Seafood