“If 3 billion people move up into the middle class between now and 2050 and they are eating primarily beef and pork, the planet is going to be in a lot of trouble. The growing middle class should be eating seafood, rather than terrestrial animals. Aquaculture provides a clear way to scale and meet these growing demands.”
That’s one of the many excellent points in favour of aquaculture in a white paper prepared for the upcoming SeaWeb Seafood Summit in New Orleans next month.
The paper points out that aquaculture has suffered a bad rap in the past but people need to take another look.
“Aquaculture today is far different than it was 30 years ago because there is better rule setting and environmental monitoring,” the paper states.
Farms depend on clean environment
And the paper reminds us all that many fish farmers depend on a healthy environment — it’s in their best interests to keep the ocean environment clean, despite the claims of anti-aquaculture activists that net pens pollute and promote disease.
“In many cases, aquaculture involves farming species that haven’t been domesticated. They are inextricably linked to their environment, which is why we must pay such close attention to that environment. Because when we start tipping that balance towards too much production, the farms will lose money because they will lose animals. This also leads to environmental impact.”
As aquaculture production expands, we must avoid mistakes made during increasing intensification of agriculture. Understanding environmental impacts and measures to mitigate them is important for designing responsible aquaculture production systems.
There are four realistic goals that can make future aquaculture operations more sustainable and productive:
improvement of management practices to create more efficient and diverse systems at every production level;
emphasis on local decisionmaking, human capacity development, and collective action to generate productive aquaculture systems that fit into societal constraints and demands;
development of risk management efforts for all systems that reduce disease problems, eliminate antibiotic and drug abuse, and prevent exotic organism introduction into local waters; and
creation of systems to better identify more sustainably grown aquaculture products in the market and promote them to individual consumers.
By 2050, seafood will be predominantly sourced through aquaculture, including not only finfish and invertebrates but also seaweeds.
Aquaculture is here to stay, and we have the unique opportunity and foresight to get it as “right” as we possibly can.
And sorry, “just putting it on land” is probably not the best solution. The scientists warn that there are environmental consequences of “closed” land-based systems, such as increased energy use and greenhouse gas emissions.
In their LCA [Life Cycle Analysis] of alternative aquaculture technologies, Ayer and Tyedmers (2009) warned that we could be shifting—not alleviating—environmental impacts by reducing local impacts but increasing material and energy demands. This shift may result in significantly increased contributions to several environmental impacts of global concern, including global warming, nonrenewable resource depletion, and acidification.
They also point out that there is limited land for expansion of agriculture in general, which would make it difficult to find suitable places for large-scale on-land fish farms. They make it clear that expanding aquaculture in coastal and inland waters is going to be a key part of the future.
And the scientists acknowledge that some of today’s fish farmers are already ahead of the game, working to improve their practices in significant ways.
Many of the environmental impacts of aquaculture are being effectively addressed by improvements in management. For example, the reliance on fish meal in feeds has been reduced to 15% for many carnivorous species by replacement with plant-based proteins or other feed sources (Naylor et al. 2009)—a change made in response to environmental and economic concerns.
This has been driven largely by salmon farmers worldwide, who have committed to continually reducing the amount of fishmeal and oil in feed over the past decade. And their reliance on wild fish for feed continues to drop.
Of course, there are many ways all fish farmers can improve, and the scientists in this paper offer hope that it is feasible and practical to have aquaculture worldwide by 2050 that is sustainable while playing a crucial role in feeding the world.
Way back in the early days of salmon farming in B.C. farmers experimented with growing practically every kind of fish.
During the first salmon farming “gold rush” in the 1970s and 1980s, hundreds of people saw dollar signs and thought they could make a fortune by throwing some fish in an old fishing net and tossing feed at them. There were some successes, but there were a lot more failures, as the old-timers will tell you.
One big set of failures were the attempts to grow sockeye to market size in net pens.
It didn’t work out very well; sockeye are highly susceptible to disease. This is simply a fact farmers and enhancement facilities have encountered when they have tried to culture sockeye. In salmon enhancement facilities in Alaska, where they raise hundreds of millions of sockeye to smolt size and then release them, nearly half of the cultured fish routinely died from IHN virus and other diseases in the 1990s, before hatcheries were finally able to get a better handle on biosecurity.
Other attempts to grow sockeye bigger than smolt size have met with dismal failure.
Today, only Atlantic salmon and some Chinook salmon are raised in ocean pens, because of the farming expertise that has been developed for those species as well as the high-quality broodstock that has been developed to pass on farm-friendly genetics from generation to generation.
Because it’s the dominant salmon in the marketplace, many people have tried (and failed) to grow Atlantic salmon in tanks to market size.
That was just long enough to get out one harvest — if there even was a harvest, we haven’t heard.
What we have heard is that they are shutting down and selling off all their recirculation equipment.
It’s all for sale, if anyone is interested.
This is interesting news not because we are trying to gloat. We’re not. It’s just that if anyone could have made land-based salmon farming work as a real-world, viable commercial-scale operation, it would have been the Hutterites, because Hutterites work for free. They live in a communal lifestyle and don’t pay wages. There were no wage and labour costs associated with this facility. Given that profits for land-based salmon farms are extremely slim, with fluctuating salmon prices enough to drive them into the red in a blink, having no wage and benefit costs for employees could have made this more viable.
But clearly after experimenting with this system the Brethren decided it wasn’t going to work for them.
Maybe someday someone will make it work, but people keep trying — and failing.
Perhaps it’s time for land-based salmon farm promoters to stop promoting unrealistic dreams as magic bullet solutions, and realize that conventional salmon farms are here to stay.
… While the governments of British Columbia and Canada turn a blind-eye, I believe the Norwegian salmon feedlots operating in BC are perpetrating one of the greatest threats known to the living world. Turning feedlot viruses from the Atlantic Ocean loose into the Pacific is damage that might not ever be repaired.
That’s right. B.C. salmon farms are one of the greatest threats known to the living world, in Ms. Morton’s mind.
Greater than this:
Greater than this:
Greater than this:
Greater than this:
Greater than this:
Greater than this:
And even apparently greater than this:
Yep, forget all that other stuff. Salmon farms, specifically in B.C., are one of the greatest threats known to the living world.
Clearly, the woman who wrote this is not the woman who once opened up a whole new field of scientific investigation and discovery (although her premise was flawed, she did open up the door for a lot of good science about sea lice).
The woman who wrote this is no longer interested in context, facts, science and where the data leads. The woman who wrote this has a moralistic, quasi-religious and blind vendetta against B.C. salmon farms.
So why does she still get quoted as a “scientist?” She tossed that hat away years ago.
Plankton’s come a long way since the budget-conscious Simpsons bought caseloads of it at the 33-cent store.
Today, far from being a sketchy low-budget protein, supplements made from phytoplankton are being flogged far and wide with big-budget advertising campaigns. They are being sold as having all sorts of amazing properties, including the usual claims health supplement manufacturers love to make.
According to the makers of “Cellton,” which is manufactured in Nanaimo, B.C., their supplements:
Help with skin disorders
Encourage weight loss
Are a powerful antioxidant
Control blood pressure
Reduce joint pain
Boost the immune system
Have “anti-tumour properties”
Can mitigate and “even cure various diseases”
Are “one of nature’s best-kept secrets”
These sorts of claims are typical for the “superfood” and supplement promoters, who take the scattergun approach to marketing. If a product does a whole bunch of vague things, at least one of them’s gotta be legit, right?
Until phytoplankton are subjected to the kind of rigorous study omega-3 supplements have undergone, I can say only that the hype is running well ahead of the science. — Dr. David Katz
We totally agree.
However, this post isn’t about bashing sketchy supplements. It’s about salmon feed. Phytoplankton might not be the magic bullet to cure what ails ya, but it could be a great way to make salmon feed more sustainable.
So why not grow phytoplankton and zooplankton in tanks to make into salmon feed ingredients? Cellton’s manufacturer, Canada Marine Biotech Research Corp, is already doing it to supply the lucrative human health supplement market. It doesn’t appear to require that much space, judging by the looks of their facility.
Why not do it on an even larger scale?The giant aeration tanks left behind by shuttered pulp and paper mill operations in B.C. could be great places to grow this stuff, providing a nutrient-rich ingredient for salmon feed and reduce the need for feed ingredients sourced from fisheries in South America and the Gulf of Mexico.