Salmon- 7 impacts of aquiculture 04.08.10
Once a luxury food, salmon is now one of the most popular fish species in the United States, Europe and Japan. Total salmon production has increased three-fold since 1980 to meet this demand. The largest growth has been in farmed, not wild caught, salmon. Approximately 60 percent (1.26 million metric tons) of the world’s salmon comes from fish farms. Source:WWF
Norway and Chile produce close to two-thirds of the world’s farmed salmon. Norway is an ideal location for farming salmon, as most of its coastline is protected from storm surges and waves and the water temperatures are favorable. Chile’s extensive coastal areas and close proximity to a large and clean source of fish meal make it a prime location for salmon aquaculture. Other significant producers include the United Kingdom and Canada.
Farmed salmon are most commonly grown in cages or pens in semi-sheltered coastal areas, such as bays or sea lochs. The cages — usually large, floating mesh cages — are designed to hold salmon but are open to the marine environment. Juvenile salmon are hatched and raised to become smolts in freshwater before they are transferred to these marine open systems to grow.
Main impacts of salmon aquaculture The rapid expansion of the salmon aquaculture industry has not come without impacts - both real and perceived. The seven key environmental and social impacts are:
Benthic impacts and siting: Chemicals and excess nutrients from food and - feces associated with salmon farms can disturb the flora and fauna on the ocean bottom (benthos).
Chemical inputs: Excessive use of chemicals - such as antibiotics, anti-foulants and pesticides - or the use of banned chemicals can have unintended consequences for marine organisms and human health.
Disease/parasites: Viruses and parasites can transfer between farmed and wild fish, as well as among farms.
Escapes: Escaped farmed salmon can compete with wild fish and interbreed with local wild stocks of the same population, altering the overall pool of genetic diversity.
Feed: A growing salmon farming business must control and reduce its dependency upon fishmeal and fishoil - a primary ingredient in salmon feed - so as not to put additional pressure on the world’s fisheries. Fish caught to make fishmeal and oil currently represent one-third of the global fish harvest.
Nutrient loading and carrying capacity: Excess food and fish waste in the water have the potential to increase the levels of nutrients in the water. This can cause the growth of algae, which consumes oxygen that is meant for other plant and animal life.
Social issues: Salmon farming often employs a large number of workers on farms and in processing plants, potentially placing labor practices and worker rights under public scrutiny. Additionally, conflicts can arise among users of the shared coastal environment.
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