Open letter to our customers

Dear valued customer,

As many of you are aware, on Monday night a Four Corners program focused on the Tasmanian salmon industry went to air.

Much of their focus in terms of questioning to us was on fish farming in Macquarie Harbour and other inshore areas in Tasmania. There were also concerns raised regarding astaxanthin in feed.

Huon has long been on the record regarding our cautious approach to farming in Macquarie Harbour due to the worsening dissolved oxygen levels. This is part of the reason why we have focused our efforts on moving offshore to more exposed sites over the last two years. For us, that is where the future lies.

We have included some comments on astaxanthin below and if you have any further questions about it please don’t hesitate to get in contact with us.

What is astaxanthin and why is it used in salmon feed?

Salmon naturally has a red/pink colour, due largely to a pigment called astaxanthin. It is produced in natural waterways by algae, yeast and bacteria. The pigment is passed on to crustaceans, such as shrimp or krill, when they eat these primary producers. Salmon then eat the crustaceans and retain the astaxanthin that they receive through their diet in the flesh and skin, where it provides vital antioxidant protection and improves robustness. It is also essential to the salmon natural reproductive cycle and can function as a provitamin, being converted to vitamin A. Salmon are unable to make astaxanthin themselves, needing a dietary supply for these vital functions.

It is now possible to make the pigment directly, without the need to harvest wild crustaceans or cultivate organisms that produce astaxanthin. This form of the pigment is identical to that found in the wild food chain, and provides the same benefits to the fish. The ability to make an identical version of this nutrient increases the ability of the industry to sustainably grow without impacting other industries or depleting naturally occurring, but limited, resources. This nature identical astaxanthin provides vital antioxidant protection and improves robustness of the fish. It is an essential part of the salmon’s dietary requirements and is not just there to colour the fish.

Is astaxanthin harmful to humans?

No. In fact, there is a growing body of medical research that highlights astaxanthin as a valuable antioxidant for human health, and it is now included directly in neutraceutical products.

What colour would a salmon fillet be if astaxanthin is not included in the feed?

Given its health benefits in salmon feed, it is poor practice to make feeds for this species without astaxanthin, and it is not natural for salmon to be depleted of this nutrient. Salmon are not naturally white fleshed and thus farmed salmon are not naturally white fleshed.

For more information on feed and any other sustainability measures visit our Sustainability Dashboard.



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