HUDSON — The Hudson Valley Fish Farm, Inc., will receive a $50,000 rural development grant from the United States Department of Agriculture.
The company is based in Hudson and uses a controversial indoor farming method to raise rainbow trout.
The company uses a technology called a recirculating aquaculture system, or RAS. This involves raising fish in a controlled commercial facility using indoor aquariums.
Hudson Valley Fish Farm uses 54 tanks of varying sizes to farm 100,000 rainbow trout at any one time. This equates to approximately 1,850 rainbow trout per tank. The company declined to comment further.
Overfishing and climate change have threatened wild fish populations. RAS is an alternative that provides consumers with a lower carbon, healthier source of protein than beef. But animal rights organizations such as People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals have shed light on the most harmful effects of RAS.
“Industrial fish farms can deprive rainbow trout of a constant flow of fresh water, pack them so tightly they can barely move, and force them to live and eat in the same small area of their own floating waste.” Promotional videos on the company’s website showed less crowded tanks. But it is not known when the video was recorded. The company started in 2014 and became fully operational in 2018.
When U.S. Representative Antonio Delgado, D-19, visited Hudson Valley Fish Farm, Inc. in May 2019, he noted sustainable practices and a high-tech facility.
He said, “I’m always thrilled when local growers receive resources and funding and was happy to see them get this grant through the USDA.”
As a member of the U.S. House of Representatives Agriculture Committee, Delgado helped upstate small farmers access emergency grants.
“I am thrilled to announce this funding for the Hudson Valley Fish Farm, an incredible fishery that has developed a local sustainable aquaculture model to protect wild fish populations and raise fish without the use of antibiotics, hormones or of pesticides. This investment will contribute to their sustainable practices and help create jobs,” Delgado said.
Although PETA and other academic studies on RAS question the effectiveness of the systems filtration process. One a newspaper article published in Aquaculture Health Management stated that “the complexity of the system gives rise to a number of health management issues in which the water quality of the production system has a direct impact on fish health”.
The Hudson Valley Fish Farm, Inc. website states that it takes about 16 months for a rainbow trout to reach maturity. The company ships direct to the consumer, and a 2-pound rainbow trout costs about $24.