Brightwater Fish Sweden – Application for Open Net Fish Farm in the Great Lake – The Great Mistake!

Brightwater Fish Sweden –  Application for Open Net Fish Farm in the Great Lake – The Great Mistake

Open Net Aquaculture Environmental and Habitat destruction far outweighs any arguments for further permits and licenses for Open Net applications.

All new Fish Farm licenses should be Land Contained Fisheries, be sustainable and give protection for future generations of the Nature and Wild Fish Stocks of Sweden.

It states in the Brightwater report that the Great Lake is poor in nutrients and therefore suited very well for aquaculture. It is inexcusable to use this statement as a case for obtaining a permit to have open net fish farming in any lake in Sweden. The already known practises and operations of open net that pollute the lake bed and the waters from fish faeces, uneaten feed and dead fish and the farmed fish escapes that always continue are some of the very reasons why this decision will be known as the Great Mistake in years to come! It is certainly not sustainable and is environmentally destructive.

The report by Brightwater continues to state …The Fisheries Agency report areas of National interest for commercial fishing include the Great Lake because of its clean and unpolluted water as being ideally suited to aquaculture! There needs to be a National debate before such ignorance of this statement allows any form of open net in the lakes to proceed. All new licenses and fishing permits should be stopped with immediate effect. All new licenses should only be granted for onshore enclosed for farmed fish businesses new or existing.

The Regional Council of Jamtland need to be educated by sources other than the large fish farm company propaganda machines. The Council also needs to be held responsible for their actions, public money will have to be used to clean up the devastation when the company goes into liquidation, leaves the site and/or destroys the natural fish stocks – this can run into billions.

In 2016, nowhere is suitable for fish farming with open nets. The huge water resources provided by the remaining unpolluted Swedish lakes, is proof itself that the fish farm will be unsuitable. It seems we don’t have enough pollution in our beautiful clean, clear lakes – so lets pollute!  Escaped diseased fish will soon spread out across the lake infecting and destroying the lakes eco system. It has already been proven the farmed fish are genetically poor in makeup and any inter breeding with wild fish will lower the wild gene pool leading to the irreversible self destruction of many fish types in the Great Lake.

Any new onshore fish farm must be sustainable and able to produce good quality fish – it should be small in production and situated where local people will be employed and the fish distributed locally. Good logistics does not mean trucking feed input vast distances or slaughtering and polluting the lake with blood or transporting huge distances to Malmo, Gothenburg or Stockholm.

The onshore fish farms should be situated by each City to be sustainable. Already Sweden Consumes too much fuel adding to CO2 levels trucking over great distances.

The creation of employment and new jobs is poorly explained, all existing fish farms use an average of 1 to 3 people per fish farm as everything is automated. At slaughter times people from other fish farms or cheap imported casual labour from Eastern Europe work temporarily for these short periods. The new onshore sustainable farms would employ more, and are more productive year round to cover these costs.

The statement in the report of the size of the bags depends on the license limits, yet while 20 tons per net of that size is quoted, we have witnessed 54 tons produced per net of the same size! It seems it is extremely difficult for authorities in control of the fish farm to understand how big business operates …the real world we live in!  With the limited resources available to them it is impossible to have the manpower, funds or initiative to monitor the activities of open net fish farms which renders the written law worthless when controlling open net fish farms.

The report states the fish metabolic rate goes down in the winter time but the water still needs to be kept ice free which proves again the need of enclosed onshore fish farm production levels. Water circulating pumps need to be employed which spread a wider area of fish effluent and disease amongst wild fish stocks. The fish movement is not enough to keep the water open as the report states, the propeller machines used for this and the electric running noise is only two decibels under the legal acceptable sound limit. The sound travels for kilometres around the lake. The water movement from these machines to prevent ice forming is extremely dangerous to other lake users. Firstly the ice melted travels some 2 kilometers away in the direction the machine pumps, secondly – and most dangerous, the ice is extremely thin where the water is displaced, this can prove fatal to any winter ice fishing causing fishermen to fall through the ice, when trying to fish in the ice free water by the machines. The machines can also be moved and make the iced surface of the lake unpredictable.

The report by Brightwater quote Environment Protection Agency studies which state that pollutants from open net fish farming pose no risk. The wording ’slightly higher Phosphorus and Nitrogen levels’ are enough to counter the lakes poor nutrients is a futile argument, other substances appear to have been forgotten…fats and edible oils are now some two thirds make up of fish feed and become floating and soluble in the water phase. In warm water, the effluent for the fish produce algae blooms that are extremely dangerous to any living organism, shellfish surrounding the fish farm for at least 200 meters from any perimeter of open net bags. Serious health issues can be experienced by fishermen and/or lake users caused by swimming in, drinking or eating anything caught within the floating algae blooms.

Environmentally speaking…saboteurs are always a threat to open bags yet no fish farmer ever doubles the nets to help prevent escapes because the fish effluent and rotting uneaten feed cannot escape freely, pumping out this effluent costs money so it doesn’t happen. Farmed fish escapes are another major threat to the Environment. Wild birds are also threatened, often caught in the nets or by eating the algae. More reasons why this application is unsustainable in its very nature.

The statement….high quality fish….is fiction. The fish are fed chemical synthetic colouring because it does not have a natural healthy lifestyle, it can get disease by swimming in its own mass effluent discharge and then treated with antibiotic in the feed, it is grown three times faster that its wild type by eating fatty unnatural feed when you compare farm to wild. The flesh is also soft and fatty in texture and not firm because of the limited unhealthy life, swimming in relatively still waters trapped against fish nets. From 350 grams to 2.5 kilos in 9 to 12 months a growth which in the wild takes three years!

One large fish producing company has quoted the average casualties of dead fish in the open nets to be 10%. This is a big disposal problem and cost. I have witnessed fish cut up and fed to gulls, Ravens and Crows or it settles to the lake bed after some days – this is a much cheaper disposal method which can also spread disease. The freeze cost is high and the collection cost of frozen is also difficult.  So the smell in summer is worse and the surface fish oils, edible oils and other feeds in the process of fish pellet feed smells when floating up to the surface, this together with the mass of farmed fish smell when feeding frenzy times occur. Dead fish can remain in the nets for several days.

In the report…how does it look in the landscape….Another thin explanation and not at all how it will look and affect the landscape.

First we have the nets and the surrounding yellow buoys and lights to avoid fishing boats running into the navigational hazard, that area is at least twice the size earmarked than the nets. Then we have spare empty nets in case they are needed – or another excuse is to breed fish for more than one year.  So the license gives say 700 ton a year slaughter yet there could be 1,400 tons at any one time in the lake way above the limits of the annual slaughter licence.  The fish producers will say only half are being slaughtered, that lot is for next year in the spring. So that is twice the nets now, then some spare for they will fully intend to expand once the license is granted and they are established, then the area is around buoyed to protect them from boats coming to close to the nets. There will be an automatic feed barge and building housing the noisy air compressor that blows the feed pellets through polyethylene pipes rattling and noisy which happens for 1.5 hrs plus a day for 3 to 4 times a day, all the feed pipes running to the nets then bird protection over nets to stop wild birds eating the fish, wow suddenly now that is really how it looks!

It is cleverly stated how it looks from the shore but if you are up a slope it is an horrific sight and environment degradation.  But if you were on the shore…what is excluded from this report an horrific eyesore… the quayside built for the supply boats to remove the dead fish, the boat that takes the feed out in many 500 kilo bags daily, the crane that lifts the bags into the boat, the crane barge for moving moorings and the bags and for lifting fish from one net to another as they grow, fitted with noisy diesel driven hydraulics out in the lake,  storage facilities.. huge plastic tents to store some 100 tons of feed of different sized pellets.  The road access for huge trucks to bring feed in and take fish out, the office storage building and then the tools building needed, spare nets, plastic rings and plastic feed pipes, truck turn road facilities and cleaning facilities, the slaughter facilities and then the storage of bins for dead fish and slaughtered fish, wood pallets, rope storage, spare anchoring facilities.  And Security… huge powerful floodlights illuminating the site and the nets from dawn to dusk that look horrific out in the normally quiet and undisturbed nature, cameras, and warning signs.  The onshore washed up pollution that happens twice a year as the lake water turns over the temperature range below 4C plus, slaughter times of blood and fats on the lake bed along the shore, this can be over 6 weeks at a time. Scavenging sea birds attracted by the prospect of a free meal pollute with bird mess everywhere and the noise with it carrying disease around farms and towns nearby. That is how the landscape will look like….not half a thumb!

When the report states the area covered will be 300 to 500 meters wide…what is it – is it 300 m or 500 m and what dimension across and what is the depth of water it is in? It appears this will take up some minimum 5 to 8 hectares of lake water at least. You should be aware of these calculations and measurements, this huge difference reminds me when another applicant was told to measure out and buoy the area it required. It was checked by GPS, found to be twice the applicant statement.  The applicant was refused permission for this fish farm.

The Swedish fish health in the report states it is very good, yet while writing this, a parasitic disease has broken out in a Swedish fish farm. Kidney disease has been detected in another fish farm, I have witnessed a scale eating disease and white fungus disease. The law for veterinary checks is once per fish farm per year for human consumption, I have witnessed a vet check one month after the young fish were introduced rather than prior to slaughter, so not a result which can be relied on. Other countries insist on two vet checks a year but not Sweden.   So facts on healthy fish produced are like all sampling and analysis, open to many misleading contradictions in terms of real results.

The company tends to sway the public by its agreements with bio security and health and other security. I read this as the big problems and dangers open net fish farms have become common knowledge and yet here they are asking for more trouble to be established. If onshore enclosed fish farming was a real responsible issue for this company then the risks to the Lake, the environment, the wild birds, the wild fish stocks, the algae blooms, the sludge build up beneath the nets, the disease, the floodlighting which only highlights where they are to potential saboteurs could not happen and the whole business could and would operate in a sustainable and safe manner.

Our experience on monitoring fish farms in Sweden is something to be discussed further. In our experience, a person from the Authorities with no education on how big business operates, or anything about fish farming, would not know pollution if they were standing in it, and yet they are put in control. If anything is reported, it never gets through to licensing for some reason, then every department blames each other. Lansstyrelsen issues a licence but that is all they do, then the Fisheries officer gets involved to issue a permit that is normally 5 years but he has pressure from the fish farm wanting the permit open ended. Then he finds he is over ridden by Jordsbruk who are the same people who give the vet orders as to when and where to test the fish for any health issues and then there is lake water testing by a third party which is carried out at locations which are nowhere near the fish farm and so give a false impression of water quality. Then the Miljo are somewhere amongst this lot getting loads of complaints from the public, yet when asked they seem unable to locate any of these – so clearly they could not have existed.  A complete mess up – how to monitor and control open net fish farming. But then the Authorities do not have the knowledge, the experience, the resources, or the funding to travel miles to a fish farm that is offshore out in a lake….then when they confront the owner or operator they get abuse and threats. I can understand the stress they are under. With the fact that fish farms operate outside office working hours of 4.5 days a week, there is scope to run circles round the authorities apart from the fish!

This is why open net fish farming in lakes should have stopped. The Swedish Authorities cannot control this type of hazardous business. Best Available Technology exists and is being adopted by responsible fish farmers that see the future rather than the now!

Onshore enclosed tanks – as recommended by the EU and whole hearted adopted and put in place by countries such as Holland.

Brightwater’s report goes further… feed sourced from sprats and other fish fodder, more stress on the already depleted oceans is no excuse and again not sustainable. The fact that fish farms use this propaganda is frightening. It is now taking fish feed, poor ‘trash’ stocks for farmed fish feed, that normally goes to third World countries for human consumption. However, It has increased the cost to those countries by so doing. These poor countries cannot compete with fish feed companies and so their own food supplies are lost as they struggle to survive so that the West can have its luxury farmed fish – this is human injustice.

The risk of runaways (escaped fish) is just a fictional statement. Do you mean to tell everyone reading this application that you dive under the nets daily in all conditions with all the equipment needed and have the back up to inspect the nets daily…and what if there is a hole or break out… is too late, predators not just two legged, will cut the nets because they too are against the nature being destroyed or because the wild fish have been depleted and are just hungry and they see it in bags….we cannot believe this statement to be fact.

Best Available Technology – not cheap excuses!

Colin Shepheard

SOLACE – Save Our Lakes and Coastal Environment

13th March 2016







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