October 19, 2017

CLF Aquaculture News: October 2017

Dave Love

Dave Love

Associate Scientist, Public Health & Sustainable Aquaculture Project

Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future

A massive farmed Atlantic salmon escape occurred last month in Washington State at a farm owned by Cooke Aquaculture, a global salmon producer. Immediately after the escape regulators urged anglers to go fishing, but this gesture was unlikely to make a dent in the problem. Reports indicate that 160,000 fish escaped the net-pen enclosure. After further review, the state  issued a moratorium on new net-pen fish farms. Cooke Aquaculture blamed the escape on a ripped net caused by high tides associated with the solar eclipse. Some media outlets cite evidence that questions the validity of that claim. Read more at the Seattle Times,  The Globe and Mail, CBC News, and NPR’s The Salt.

In more salmon news, 4.5 tons of genetically engineered (GE) salmon have been made available for sale in Canada. This is the first harvest of genetically engineered fish (or any type of GE animal) to hit the markets after regulators in Canada (and the US Food and Drug Administration) approved the sale of the salmon without GE labeling. Consumer rights groups are bristling at the news, which has elicited pledges from several grocery store chains not to sell the product. AquaBounty, the company that patented the GE fish, has plans to expand production in Atlantic Canada and Indiana, US. Sales are on hold in the US due to an effort led by Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) to require labeling of GE salmon. Read more at Nature, the Washington Post, and Quartz.

Fishing fleets from several European Union countries are unlawfully fishing in African waters, says a new report by Oceana. Data was collected on illegal fishing trips by a new vessel monitoring system called Global Fishing Watch, which is supported by Google, the Leonardo Dicaprio Foundation, and others. Read more at Oceana.

Journalist Jess Bidgood and photographer Damon Winter cover the story of Joe Young, a sixth-generation fisherman in Maine as he tries his hand at oyster farming. Mr. Young is part of a growing trend among fishermen in the Northeast who are diversifying their businesses by growing oysters, mussels, or kelp to supplement their income from wild fish or lobster harvests.  Read and see more at the New York Times.

In the recent peer-reviewed literature, scientists from China think the source of antibiotic resistance genes in sediments under aquaculture operations may be linked to antibiotic resistance genes found in fish feed. Researchers created a microcosm and the antibiotic resistance patterns in fishmeal looked very similar to those found in sediments. Fishmeal nutrients increase the abundance of bacteria in sediments. The researchers caution that propagation of antibiotic resistance genes is a risk for farms that use fishmeal diets  Read more at Environmental Science and Technology.

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