Action Against Fish Farming : Dirty Water Sweden

Action Against Fish Farming : Dirty Water Sweden

An Impact assessment over 24 hrs a day for 7 years has resulted in unearthing fundamental flaws in Sweden’s Policy makers rules and regulations and Acts in controlling ‘Open Net’ Aquaculture’s  Commercial Operations

With the facts of these findings it is important Sweden is made aware of the shameful irreversible destruction being unleashed on its lakes and seas (protected or not) that has already begun.

‘Open Net’ fish farming has become the cheapest way to make vast profits without due care and consideration to anything other than the companies involved.

Negative Impacts of Aquaculture on People and on the Environment

The following negative impacts of aquaculture are far from exhaustive. Rather, they provide examples that illustrate the wide spectrum of problems associated with aquaculture activities and cast serious doubts on industry claims of sustainability.

With the expansion of the industry, however, the tendency has been for methods of production to intensify, particularly in the production of carnivorous species. This has resulted in many serious impacts on the environment.

  • The culture of species that require fishmeal or fish oil-based feeds derived from unsustainable fisheries and/or which yield conversion ratios of greater than one (i.e. represent a net loss in fish protein yield) is unsustainable.
  • Plant-based feeds should originate from sustainable agriculture.
  • Aquaculture that results in negative environmental impact in terms of discharges/effluents to the surrounding environment and is therefore unsustainable.
  • Aquaculture practices have had serious negative impacts on local habitat. Aquaculture practices must be set up in a way that provides for the protection of ecosystems and local habitats.
  • No new aquaculture practices should be permitted. Existing ’open bag’ aquaculture operations should be banned with immediate effect with the acknowledged time frame to move to inshore closed tank (Best Available Technology) systems that will increase employment and have no negative impacts.
  • Aquaculture causes negative effects to local wildlife (plants as well as animals) and represents a risk to local wild populations which is unsustainable.
  • Aquaculture which relies on wild-caught juveniles is also unsustainable.
  • The physical containment of genetically engineered fish cannot be guaranteed under commercial conditions and any escapes into the environment could have devastating effects on wild fish populations and biodiversity.

Human Health: Aquaculture that threatens human health is unfair and unsustainable

 In order for aquaculture operations to move towards sustainable production the industry needs to recognise and address the full spectrum of environmental and social impacts caused by its operations. Essentially, this means that it will no longer be acceptable for the industry to place burdens of production, (such as the disposal of waste) onto the wider environment. In turn, this implies moving towards closed production systems. In order to prevent nutrient pollution, ways can be found to use nutrients present in waste products beneficially. Examples include integrated multi-trophic aquaculture (IMTA) and aquaponics.

The use of fishmeal and fish oil derived from marine species of fish for aquaculture also has implications for human food security……

Demand for such fish is likely to grow as populations increase, bringing them under pressure both from aquaculture and direct consumption. In addition, low value fish (inappropriately termed “trash fish”) caught as by-catch and used for fishmeal production is actually an important food source for poorer people in developing countries. Use of “trash fish” in aquaculture inflates prices to such an extent that the rural poor can no longer afford to buy it. With these factors in mind, the UN Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) has recommended that governments of major aquaculture producing countries prohibit the use of “trash fish” as feed for the culture of high value fish.

Although a trend has emerged in recent years of replacing fishmeal with plant-based proteins in aquaculture feeds, the fraction of fishmeal/oil used for diets of carnivorous species remains high. Moreover, this trend has not been fast enough to offset the growing use of fishmeal, caused simply by an increase in the overall number of farmed carnivorous fish produced. The quantity of wild fish required as feed to produce one unit of farmed salmon reduced by 25% between 1997 and 2001, but the total production of farmed salmon grew by 60.5%, eclipsing much of the improvement in conversion efficiencies.

Negative Impact of Aquaculture on People and the Environment

Threat to Wild Fish

Escaped farmed fish have a lower genetic variability than wild fish. Hence, if they interbreed with wild fish, the offspring may be less fit and the genetic variability that is important for adaptability in the wild may be lost. It was originally thought that escaped fish would be less able to cope with conditions encountered in the wild and would be unable to survive, thereby not posing a threat to the genetic diversity of wild populations. In reality, the sheer numbers that have escaped mean that they are now breeding with wild species in Norway, Ireland, the United Kingdom and North America. Because they produce offspring less able to survive in the wild, this means that already vulnerable populations could be driven towards extinction. In Norway, farmed salmon have been estimated to comprise 11–35% of the population of free spawning salmon; for some populations this may rise to more than 80%. Continuing escapes may mean that the original genetic profile of the population will not be able to re-assert itself!

Organic wastes from fish or crustacean farming include uneaten food, body wastes and dead fish. In open net fish farming these wastes enter the aquatic environment in the vicinity of the cages. In extreme cases the large numbers of fish present in the cages can generate sufficient waste to cause oxygen levels in the water to fall, resulting in the suffocation of both wild and farmed fish.

More usually, the impacts of intensive culture are seen in a marked reduction in biodiversity around the cages. Maybe a reason why despite authority pressures, fish farming companies are reluctant to agree to samples being taken of the sludge build up beneath the cages, and forestall any pressures put on them to do so.  Some studies found a reduction in biodiversity on the seabed up to 200 metres away from open net cages.

Wastes can also lead to the rapid growth of certain microscopic algae. Some of the algal blooms which can result are very harmful: they can cause the death of a range of marine animals and also cause shellfish poisoning in humans.

A wide variety of chemicals and drugs may be added to aquaculture cages and ponds in order to control viral, bacterial, fungal or other pathogens. There is a risk that such agents may harm aquatic life nearby. The use of antibiotics also brings a potential risk to public health as over-use of these drugs can result in the development of antibiotic-resistance in bacteria that cause disease in humans.

Aquaculture that does not support the long-term economic and social well-being of local communities is unfair and unsustainable. Aquaculture that depletes local resources is also unsustainable.

The Common Fishery Policy Draft stating Public Authorities using Public Funding is open to abuse.

The Inescapable Conclusion – An Environmental Disaster

Ban ‘Open Net’ Fish Farming before its effects and damage become irreversible.

Colin Shepheard

Solace – Save Our Lakes and Coastal Environment 

13 March 2016

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