Today’s Farmed Fish is a collaborative thought campaign among researchers and industry experts striving to show consumers responsible examples of US farmed fish, settle common aquaculture myths, and illustrate not all animal protein is created equal.

Discovering Sustainably Raised Seafood Starts Here

Meet Your Fish Farmer


With over 35 years of experience in the aquaculture industry, Joe McElwee at Ideal Fish highlights the sustainability of RAS farming, producing tasty Mediterranean Seabass otherwise known as branzino.

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4 min read

We caught up with owner Sara Rademaker’s whirlwind schedule to talk with her about her savvy unagi practices.

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4 min read

We got a minute of owner Wes Eason's time to talk about his homegrown rainbow trout practices and the pressing concerns among the aquaculture industry today.

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4 min read

President Brandon Gottsacker took the time to tell us about his cutting-edge aquaponics and land restoration practices in eastern Wisconsin.

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6 min read

David tells us the difference between kanpachi and kampachi, and growing it at Blue Ocean Mariculture’s state-of-the-art facilities.

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3 min read

CEO Phil Gibson sits down with us to share his vast industry knowledge and his cutting-edge technology for raising indoor coho.

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7 min read

Insider Insights


Dr. Chris Anderson is a Professor of Fisheries Economics at the University of Washington and also the Research Director of TFF. For three consecutive years prior to the pandemic, he held blind tastings of farmed vs wild salmon in his graduate class. We sat down with him to discuss his findings, and the results might surprise you!

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4 min read

We spoke with NOAA Director of Aquaculture to discuss the direction, opportunity, and public concern of developing a stronger aquaculture industry in the US.

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4 min read

TFF sat down with Jennifer Bushman to discuss how aquaculture done properly has the potential to really succeed in the US. Working with many industry folks she provided us with a wide array of information.

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6 min read

We spoke with the Executive Director at the Western Regional Aquaculture Center to learn more about aquaculture in the Pacific Northwest and how developments have improved over the years.

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5 min read

Join Our Community!

Read the stories behind best practices from ultra responsible American fish farmers!

Cover topics we research on environmental impacts, feed usage, fish escapement, and widespread advancements in aquaculture, and discover further resources! Find out how to cook sumptuous farmed fish recipes and where to buy sustainable product!

 

Top 5 Ways to Sustainably Farm Fish 


Farming two or more species together is an ultra-responsible way to farm our oceans. From ancient China to modern day Canada, this practice show promise for the future.

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1 min read

Offshore farms sited in deeper waters, where ocean currents flush away any possible contaminants from the farms are starting to become a realization in the US with the west coast leading the way. Hawaii and California are two great examples of this sustainable practice.

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This novel form for fish farming coming out of Scandinavia combines the best techniques from a variety of other farm practices to culminate in what is arguably the most innovative responsible form of fish farming today.

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Taking fish farming out of the water and on to land, RAS systems provide year round responsible protein across the country in an almost 100% renewable way. The Midwest has exemplified how sustainable this practice can be with barramundi coming out of Iowa and salmon out of Indiana

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Like RAS, raceways also allow for fish farming to take place on land, with minimal environmental impact. Mitigating impacts of common concern like disease transfer and effluent pollution, this practice produces fresh fish across the US.

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Flash frozen is the new Fresh


What is flash freezing for seafood?

"The freshest seafood is that which has been frozen shortly after harvest and remains that way until cooked,” says Jane Brody, nutrition columnist for The New York Times. Many people avoid buying frozen fish, believing it’s not as high quality or less “fresh”. Yet freezer technology has come a long way since these beliefs became popular - in particular with “flash freezing”. Flash freezing is the on-the-spot freezing technique of reducing the temperature as quickly and purely as possible then vacuum sealing to keep the flesh in pristine condition until you’re ready to defrost. Due to this method, frozen fish is often better than fresh fish these days. 

Flash freezing produces higher quality and tastier fillets!

Though your fish might be labeled as “fresh”, the chance it was previously frozen and thawed (potentially multiple times) before you purchased it at the store are quite high. While your initial instinct might be to assume that fresh tastes better than frozen, we’ve got evidence to debunk that myth. Ecotrust teamed up with researchers at Oregon State University to conduct blind taste tests of salmon, black cod, albacore, and scallops to determine if people could tell the difference between high quality flash frozen and fresh fish. Turns out they could! In most cases, participants preferred flash frozen! Notes such as “good, clean, and almost buttery flavor” were used to describe the flash frozen scallops. Others described the flash frozen salmon as “tasting like it was recently caught fresh out of the ocean.” More than 50% of individuals said the flash frozen cod was “above average or excellent” and the fresh cod was “average or poor.” Further, the research team wanted hard numbers to back up these claims, and that’s exactly what they got. Scientists can measure the quality of fish by running an electrical current through the fillet, resulting in what is called the Certified Quality Number, or CQN. This works because as the flesh deteriorates, cell membranes in the fillets become leaky and conduct less electrical current. When comparing the CQNs in their study, researchers found the flash frozen cod measured at 80 with fresh only measuring at 15, while flash frozen salmon measured at 79 and only 20 for fresh. Also read about TFF Research Director Chris Anderson's blind taste tests of farmed vs wild!

Flash freezing lowers carbon emissions and food waste

Consuming flash frozen seafood can help lower your carbon footprint while simultaneously reducing food waste. Fisheries and Food Systems Program Manager at Ecotrust, Tyson Rasor explains, "As fresh product has to be flown across the oceans, across the United States, across the county somewhere, it's putting out far more carbon emissions than a frozen product that can be shipped by rail or by a boat or another method like that. Seafood chef Barton Seaver agrees, “It is a major win for sustainability. It decreases waste and takes advantage of seasonal bounty to spread its availability throughout the year.” Purchasing flash frozen fish also cuts down on food waste. A shocking 33% of fresh fish at the seafood counter get disposed of after two days if not purchased. 

Flash-frozen is both cheaper AND safer than fresh fish!

Flash frozen seafood is as safe as you can get, from a food borne illness standpoint. The FDA actually requires raw fish served at sushi bars to be previously flash frozen, which ceases all bacteria growth and kills all parasites (and also reiterates the high quality that flash frozen seafood can be). It also makes your food cheaper by about 20%. Flash frozen seafood can lower the price of species that aren’t native to the region you are shopping in. Think about how expensive it would be to buy fresh Maine lobster all the way in Washington!

TFF Articles


What to Eat to Save the Planet: Three Tradeoffs to Consider
9 min read

What to Eat to Save the Planet: Three Tradeoffs to Consider

We consider three major environmental tradeoffs when you're choosing your animal protein for your meals and while you're shopping at the grocery store...

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Eat More Seafood: It's Safer Than You Think
9 min read

Eat More Seafood: It's Safer Than You Think

We touch on added dyes, antibiotic residues, and environmental contaminants like mercury and PCBs to conclude that today's farmed fish is still better than...

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The New Farmed Fish: Today Does Not Equal Yesterday
8 min read

The New Farmed Fish: Today Does Not Equal Yesterday

We explore the notable advancements in aquaculture over the past 30 years. Today’s farmed fish is a lot more comparable to other high-quality animal protein than...

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Feed for Thought: Feed Usage in Aquaculture
13 min read

Feed for Thought: Feed Usage in Aquaculture

We examine requirements, efficiency, and advancements in feed sources of farmed fish for a better understanding of today's...

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Farmed Fish Escapement: A Closer Look
13 min read

Farmed Fish Escapement: A Closer Look

Despite escapement events having decreased 98% the past 15 years, we explore and better understand the risk of fish escapement...

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Common Farming Methods


Recirculating aquaculture systems (RAS)

Wastewater is pumped through treatment systems that clean and re-filter circulated water before returning it to the fish tanks. These recirculating systems can be built on land, allowing farming to take place all across the country. Compared to other raceways, RAS aquaculture has less wastewater and overall water requirements. This type of farming also eliminates risks associated with environmental harm to ocean habitats. A wide variety of species grows well in these tanks such as arctic char, salmon, trout, bass, and sturgeon.

Open net pens

These pens are situated in coastal waters and allow fish to grow in an open ocean environment. Species such as salmon, trout, and tilapia are farmed using this method as it applies to both saltwater species as well as freshwater species. Nets pens are anchored to the bottom and allows for water to freely flow through them. Pens are typically constructed from welded steel pipes, heavy duty rubber hinges, and mesh/net screens.

Offshore cages

These cages differ from open-net pens, as they are submersible cages in deeper water farther off the coast. With stronger oceans currents the farther out you go, water is filtered out and diluted more easily than with open-net pens. Offshore cages are attached to the sea floor and to buoys on the water’s surface. Species such as kanpachi, cobia, sablefish, and bass do well in off-shore cages. These cages are typically stronger than open-net pens, and continually becoming more secure as newer technology develops.

Raceways

Sometimes referred to as “flow-through” systems, raceways can be inside or outside and are highly advantageous in allowing for easy fish monitoring and feeding. This system consists of long basins with continuous water flow to farm freshwater species like trout and tilapia. Incoming water is maintained at the appropriate temperature and salinity for the species being farmed. Raceways are most often constructed from concrete or pollster resin.

Polyculture (Integrated Multi-Trophic Aquaculture)

Click below for a short video!

Different from any other production method, this method combines finfish species, shellfish, and marine plants (seaweed and kelp) boosting the environmental and economic benefits of aquaculture. This farming method is similar to polyculture on terrestrial farms using co-cultivation of different species. The salmon effluent and food waste are able to be absorbed or extracted by mussels and the kelp is able to dissolve other waste products such as nitrogen and phosphorus.

Recommended Resources


Read the stories of American fish farmers

Deep Dive FAQ: Kanpachi/Kampachi


What kind of fish is Hawaiian kanpachi?

Also known as almaco jack (Seriola rivoliana), Hawaiian kanpachi/kampachi is prized by chefs for both sushi and cuisine due to its extremely high fat content and rich white flesh. The fish is marked by a dark blue-green upper body with a lavender-tinted belly and elongated fins. When young, the distinctive bands centered over the eyes look similar to the Japanese symbol for the number 8 (“pachi” or “ハ”), giving the fish its name, “kan pachi” or “center eight”. Wild populations of almaco jack extend around the globe from California to Peru, the Azores to Spain, and Japan to the Philippines. It is commercially farmed in Hawaii and Mexico.

Are kanpachi and kampachi the same fish?

Typically, yes! The origin of the word "kanpachi" is Japanese, but saying it out loud as an anglophone very much sounds like "kampachi", so over time both terms became accepted interchangeably as almaco jack (Seriola rivoliana).  Hawaiian kanpachi will always refer to Seriola rivoliana, but be aware that every so often kanpachi is apparently also sometimes used to refer to the greater amberjack (Seriola dumerili), technically a different species of jack.  Note these are different species than Japanese amberjack/yellowtail/hamachi/buri.


Is kanpachi/kampachi and hamachi the same fish?

Technically, no! There are many species of Seriola in the jack family (Carangidae). Let's break it down: Sometimes kanpachi refers generally to the greater amberjack (Seriola dumerili) but Hawaiian kanpachi/kampachi/almaco jack will always be Seriola rivoliana, and is considered to be firmer and more mild in flavor than hamachi.
In sushi terms, hamachi is the younger juvenile version and buri is the older more mature version of Japanese amberjack or yellowtail, which is either Seriola quinqueradiata (most commonly farmed in Japan) or its Southern Ocean brother Seriola lalandi. Yellowtail is a completely different fish than kanpachi that tends to be softer in texture and most think it's got a smoother yet richer flavor.


Is kanpachi farmed or wild?

Most commercially available Hawaiian kanpachi/kampachi/almaco jack is farm raised. Wild populations exist, but much like commercial catfish, rainbow trout, cow, pig, or chicken, it’s mostly available to consumers as farm-raised. Commercial farming of kanpachi has recently been established in the deep waters off the islands of Hawaii as well as Baja and Pacific Mexico. Sourcing your kanpachi from companies like Blue Ocean Mariculture supports forward thinking strategies for the planet and represents today’s farmed fish.

Is kanpachi sustainable?

You decide!  Glimpse cutting edge offshore technology at work in the Velella research project off the Big Island in Hawaii. Monterey Bay Seafood Watch concludes that in the US, producers that use dry pellet feed will, on average, likely have a yellow score, or "Good Alternative". While they acknowledge the feed’s ingredients are sourced from sustainable fisheries, their main concern is the high amount of marine products required to produce almaco jack. However, we explore the issue further in our feed article, and interviewed the same research scientist Dr. Neil Sims on his work developing protein alternatives. Net pens in Mexico also rated as a "Good Alternative" as of January 2020. The industry hasn’t reported the use of antibiotics, but chemicals are regularly used to control parasites though the substances are a low risk to the environment. Sourcing US kanpachi from companies like this Blue Ocean Mariculture distributor supports forward thinking strategies for the planet and represents today’s farmed fish.

How do you prepare kanpachi sushi or crudo?

Described as clean, pure, fresh, and subtle, Hawaiian Kanpachi is extremely versatile on the grill or sashimi-sliced with love and precision. Check out our simple recipe for Sunny Citrus Kanpachi Crudo and brush up on how to prepare raw fish at home.

Deep Dive FAQ: Branzino


What kind of fish is branzino?

Known as "branzino" in Italian, and "suzuki" in sushi, Mediterranean or European seabass (Disentrarchus labrax) is a round, non-oily, warm-to-temperate water fish found predominantly in the North Atlantic and Mediterranean Sea. Branzino is a different species than the popular recreational fish Striped American seabass (Morone saxatilis), found in the Eastern United States. Both are altogether different than Chilean sea bass, which is really a fancy name for the Patagonian toothfish (Dissostichus eleginoides) a highly oily cold water fish native to Antarctic waters of Southern Chile and Argentina.

Is branzino farm raised?

More than likely! The vast majority of commercial branzino is farm raised. Wild populations exist, but much like commercial catfish, rainbow trout, cow, pig, or chicken, it’s mostly available to consumers as farm-raised. Commercial farming of sea bass has become very established along Mediterranean coasts to meet an increasing US demand, which has put pressure on habitat and raised concerns over environmental impacts in a concentrated seascape like the Mediterranean. On the bright side, branzino is now being raised in the US in indoor recirculating systems like Ideal Fish in Connecticut. Sourcing your branzino from companies like Ideal Fish supports forward thinking strategies for the planet and represents today’s farmed fish.

Is branzino sustainable?

It can be! Monterey Bay Seafood Watch confirms that branzino raised in indoor recirculating systems (RAS), such as Connecticut-based Ideal Fish (read our interview with them here), are a good or best choice while their 2020 report on marine net pen operations set up along the Mediterranean coastline present uncertainty and concern over habitat displacement, antibiotics and chemicals usage, and waste discharge. Sourcing your branzino from companies like Ideal Fish supports forward thinking strategies for the planet and represents today’s farmed fish.

Is branzino a freshwater fish?

Nope! Branzino is a saltwater fish. As such, it is naturally rich in minerals including selenium, iodine, calcium, zinc, potassium, phosphorus, and magnesium. It has a sweet flavor profile with a delicate flake and low oil content. Delish!

What are the health and nutrition benefits of branzino?

Tons! Being lower in oil content, branzino is one of lower calorie fishes (a 3oz serving holds around 90 calories) while boasting a powerhouse of essential fatty acids, protein, minerals and fat-soluble vitamins like vitamin A, E, D, and B-complex. Its lean, white meat boasts a good amino-acids profile as well as a good source of poly-unsaturated fatty acids. The FDA recommendation is consumption of eat 2-3 servings a week for European sea bass, and is categorized under the "best choice" section regarding mercury levels. Lastly, branzino is a naturally rich source of minerals including selenium, iodine, calcium, zinc, potassium, phosphorus, and magnesium. 

How do I cook whole branzino?

Easy! Averaging one to three pounds, whole branzino is perfect for a single plate, a meal for two, or featured as part of a larger feast. Simply follow our super simple recipe for cooking a whole trout but with your branzino. Review this quick tutorial when you're ready to carve that bad boy, and enjoy!

Editor's Pick: Local Seafood


OUR TOP 3 LOCAL SUSTAINABLE SEAFOOD SOURCES FOR THE (COVID) HOLIDAYS

Editor's Pick: Local Seafood
Written by Jess McCluney
Feature photo courtesy of Superior Fresh

Spoiler Alert: None of these suppliers offer farm raised fish! Being local to the Pacific Northwest, we haven’t historically have a lot of love for farmed fish.  However, we believe with time and thought leadership, even local consumers will support the notion of responsible aquaculture and demand clear legislation that outlines proposed US practices. If we demand more from our food systems, both wild and farmed, the industry will answer that call. High tides lift all boats.

First Place: Lummi Island Wild Co-op

Truly local to the Seattle area, Lummi Island Wild Co-op is a small organization with strong and long-standing native tribe connections. They harvest Washington salmon and ikura (salmon roe), and feature a variety of regional and Alaskan sourced seafood, all flash frozen at the peak of freshness. Lummi is made up of a few white salmon fishermen who also purchase salmon from the Upper Skagit River Tribe, one of the few direct-to-consumer enterprises in the area that provides mainstream access to a high-end commercial market for native fishermen. I've personally witnessed the tribe fishing Baker River Sockeye in tiny river skiffs with extremely well-regulated 7 minute gillnet sets. Bottom line: for truly local, responsible, and well-handled seafood, 110% buy from these fellas.

Second Place: Tre-Fin Day Boat Seafood

Based in Ilwaco, WA, the Community Supported Fishery (CSF) Tre-Fin Day Boat Seafood is made up of a few Washington and Oregon coast albacore fishermen who bring back their daily catch and still hand-fillet to sell to households. They now offer black cod, halibut, lingcod, rockfish, and petrale sole in their subscription boxes, which can be picked up in Vancouver, Ilwaco, or Gig Harbor, WA. Home delivery  offered around the Portland area. These are some of the hardest working fishermen with the upmost integrity I've met who truly want to bring people positive experiences with their seafood. 

Third Place: Desire Fish Company

You can’t get much more locally supportive of a fisher family than Desire Fish Company. Salmon that's caught in Alaska, pressure-bled on board, and processed and sold in Bellingham, WA. Relatively low tech, keep an eye on their Facebook page for up-to-date public communication. Their website isn’t the most modern but has the information. Buy in person at Squalicum Harbor in Bellingham Sat/Sun 10-5pm. Their usual spot is gate 7. They leave for the Alaska salmon season June 1, and return in the fall. The Bellingham Community Food Co-ops both carry their sockeye in their seafood departments and grab-and-go sections. The Cordata Co-op carries their coho as well. This is just a really nice fishing couple getting on into their golden years and trying to do right by their environment and their community.

Runner Up #1: Alaska Select Seafoods

The side hustle of a Bristol Bay sockeye fisherman, Captain Nick Lee makes twice-a-year deliveries to Seattle by the case. Alaska Select Seafood offers a variety of Alaskan species such as salmon, black cod, halibut, Pacific cod, snow crab, and spot prawn. Sign up for their mailing list to receive info for fall and spring pickup. I've known Nick a few years as a customer turned business partner and back to customer again. He is also one of those fishermen trying to bring good people good fish and bust up seafood myths along the way.

Runner Up #2: Vital Choice Seafoods

Based outside of Bellingham WA, Vital Choice Seafoods focuses on sourcing extremely well and educating their consumers with great transparent information about their sourcing and post-harvest practices listed within each product description. While they source outside of local fisheries, their strict criteria provide confidence in some of the trickier seafoods, like their handline yellowfin tuna from Indonesia or their wild artisan blue shrimp from Mexico. Also a good place for fun fancy items like smoked black cod. With frozen home delivery service, the only downside is the price. You do have the option to pick up at their HQ in Ferndale, WA. *The link above gets you 5% discount and free shipping.

Farmed Fish Recipes


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Our Mission


Connecting consumers with sustainably farmed fish.

Photo courtesy of Blue Ocean Mariculture

Find product you can trust!

Several responsible examples of sustainably farmed fish exist right here within the US.


Asking for local US-raised farmed fish is an excellent starting point to experiencing the clean fresh flavor of sustainably farmed fish.

Consider supporting sustainable aquaculture legislation in your state to bring good clean product as local as possible.

See Where To Buy and ask for the following brands at your local grocer.



This campaign is funded by NOAA Sea Grant National Aquaculture Initiative grant R/SFA/N-8, led by the School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences at the University of Washington. The research team has engaged select US-based farmed fish producers who have made in-kind contributions in the form of their time answering interview questions about their practices, and providing photo resources credited throughout the website.


Our Team


...and be sure to Meet Your Fish Farmer under the Stories tab!

Jess McCluney

Campaign Director

McCluney Seafood Strategies

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Dr. Chris Anderson

Research Director

University of Washington

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Jessie Portlock

Digital Marketing Strategist

No Rest For The Wycked

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Corinne Noufi

Content & Relationships Manager

University of Washington

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Minyan Jane Shen

Research Data Analyst

University of Washington

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Dr. Eddie Allison

Key Scientific Advisor

University of Washington

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Bobbie Buzzell

Research Contributor

Washington Sea Grant Fellow

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Today's Farmed Fish

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