When we joined the world of the recipe box, we saw one fish on our competitors' menus much more than any other: salmon. And, since our co-founder Wil had just been to a lecture by Naomi Klein about how damaging salmon farming is to ecosystems across the globe, we were adamant not to include ANY of it in our boxes.
Luckily for us, ChalkStream Trout exists. Their trout is a delicious, oily, succulent fish with skin that crisps up better than, well, crisps! It’s a great replacement for salmon, and, what’s better, it's been declared by the Sustainable Restaurant Association as one of the most sustainable fish for humans to get their hands on and eat. But we’re never ones to take the ‘S word’ at face value, so we dived a little deeper to find a company that we both trust and love.
Aside from how delicious it is, which falls under the category of ‘very’, the guys at ChalkStream have worked incredibly hard to build an aquaculture project (definition: the rearing of aquatic animals or the cultivation of aquatic plants for food) that goes against the blanket Seaspiracy condemnation of fish farming. Unlike those exposed in the Netflix original and widely practised over the globe, this is good aquaculture done right.
Recently, we had yet another chat with the guys down at ChalkStream and thought we’d give you a little breakdown about what makes them great, with a bit more detail about what good aquaculture actually means.
ChalkStream's fully-segregated waterways
One big issue with fish farming is that it is situated in open-water pens, often at the mouth of waterways amidst feeding or migratory routes of other fish. This intrusive practice puts enormous strain on already delicately balanced and threatened ecosystems.
At ChalkStream, they’re using ‘segregated water systems’. That means that fish are reared within raceways and tanks separate from the chalk streams that feed them. This has three clear advantages:
- There are no escapees, meaning that river habitats are far less threatened.
- As freshwater fish, Trout do not suffer from sea lice, which is the scourge of open water fish farms (like in Salmon farming in Scotland and beyond).
- Water is ‘settled’ before returning to the river. This basically means waste and organic matter floats to the bottom, which can then be dredged with the resultant waste being spread on the surrounding fields.
- The third-party Environment Agency regularly and randomly monitors the water quality returning to the main river, so we know no nasties are slipping through the gaps.
They're reducing the ratio of fish feed to fish
A proposed (yet faux) benefit of fish farming is that it doesn’t exploit natural stocks; however, the feed for farmed fish has needed to use more tonnes of wild-caught fish than the number of tonnes of edible farmed fish produced. Weird loophole and makes zero sense, right? In farming speak, this is referred to as the fish in to fish out ratio (FIFO).
Well, you won’t be surprised to hear ChalkStream is cutting right back on this. Their feed manufacturer reduced the amount of marine content in their feed by 60% over the last 10 years, and they ensure that all wild fish meal comes from IFFO RS certified fisheries. They’ve also managed to get a FIFO of just under 1, which means that the farms can produce just over a kilo of edible farmed fish for every kilo of wild-caught fish in the feed. This achievement is rare in the industry.
They are certified to the teeth
ChalkStream has been certified by a number of different bodies to top things off, which goes even further to cement their planet champion status. If you want to know a little more about why they’re so great from a planet conscious perspective, check them out here.
With fish farming coming under such firm scrutiny over the past year (and rightly so for the large part), the industry needs more people taking the initiative to minimise its impact on the habitats and ecosystems they occupy. ChalkStream is leading the way with their beautiful Trout.