An Atlantic salmon escape in summer 2017 in Washington state was worse than previously thought, reports Lynda Vapes. An investigation by the Washington State’s departments of Ecology, Fish and Wildlife, and Natural Resources found that Cooke Aquaculture underreported the number of escaped fish: 263,000 fish, not 130,000 as first reported. The company reported the reason for the escape was strong tides associated with the solar eclipse, but the state investigation found that poor maintenance and cleaning of net pens was to blame. State regulators then fined Cooke Aquaculture $332,000 for violating their permit. Read more at Seattle Times. Read More >
The largest aquaponics facility in the world opened this summer in Northfield, Wisconsin, owned by Superior Fresh LLC. The facility houses 40,000 square feet of Atlantic salmon and rainbow trout production using recirculating aquaculture methods and is expected to produce its first harvest in 2018. The fish waste is circulated through a 120,000 square foot greenhouse used to raise plants hydroponically. The facility expects to employ 50 people. Dr. Chris Hartleb, Professor of Fisheries Biology at University of Wisconsin at Stevens Point, will be working closely with the firm as part of a business-academic partnership. Read more at the University of Wisconsin Sea Grant Institute. Read More >
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. Read More >
Reporter Aaron Orlowski covered our recent paper in which we argued for new priorities in seafood policy that recognize the food system and public health. There is a need for better communication and collaboration between the public health/medical community and the fisheries communities and policymakers to bridge the gap between production and consumption. Co-author Patricia Pinto Da Silva says “You have to look beyond the landing dock and see how the fish we catch is connected to our markets, communities, local economies and public health.” Read more at Seafood Source. Read More >
Journalist Rona Kobell takes the pulse of the aquaculture community and dissects conflicting messages from the White House. On one hand, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross wants to cut the seafood trade deficit and eliminate barriers for domestic aquaculture, but the proposed federal FY17 and FY18 budgets contain large cuts to aquaculture funding across NOAA and USDA. Read more at The Bay Journal. Read More >
Three seafood luminaries published a recent op-ed in The New York Times, opining about ways in which the proposed budget cuts to NOAA will affect domestic fisheries and aquaculture. They say “Aquaculture… will be crippled by President Trump’s budget cuts. The United States already ranks 17th in world aquaculture production, behind Myanmar. Yes, sad! Without NOAA, things would be even sadder.” Read more: New York Times. Read More >
The White House proposed budget calls for large cuts to NOAA and completely removes Coastal Zone Management grants, the Sea Grant program, and the NERRS coastal research sites. These cuts will harm the ability for local and state governments to respond to climate change and storms, and will have negative impacts on businesses that rely on Sea Grant extension services, as well. The CLF has a longstanding collaboration with staff at the Maryland Sea Grant, and we are concerned about these proposed budget cuts. Read more at the Washington Post. Read More >
Recirculating aquaculture is expanding in many parts of the United States and the stories below give a taste of where, how, and why this growth is taking place. In Iowa, a third-generation farming family stopped raising pigs commercially due to low market prices and converted their barn to raise barramundi, a high-value fish that has its roots in Australia. Read more at Mother Jones. In New York, a shuttered tilapia farm is being reopened under new ownership as a salmon farm. Read More >
Skepticism over the business potential for offshore aquaculture comes amid NOAA’s push to develop a permitting system for these industrial operations in the Gulf of Mexico and Pacific Islands. Read more at Bloomberg News and Politico.
The debate over the benefits and risks of offshore aquaculture continues, from Op-Eds to influential political blogs. Marianne Cufone, Executive Director of Recirculating Farms Coalition, writes in The Hill about a concern that offshore aquaculture will stress aquatic ecosystems, including concerns over fish escapes, and economic harm to local fishing communities. Read more at The Hill. Read More >
The National Organic Program is reviewing whether food crops grown in soilless hydroponic and aquaponic systems should be considered for certification and labeling as USDA Organic. If you would like to submit a public comment, the written deadline is October 26th, oral comments via webinar can be made November 3rd, and in-person comments can be made at the meeting Nov 18th. Read the full Hydroponic and Aquaponic Task Force report.
Hurricane Matthew has inundated and submerged dozens of industrial animal production sites in Eastern North Carolina. Swine lagoons burst following Hurricane Floyd that hit the region in 1999, which led to influx of phosphorus, nitrogen, algal blooms in coastal estuaries and large fish kills. Stay tuned in the coming weeks to months to track the impact Hurricane Mathew will have on downstream industries including recreational and commercial fisheries and aquaculture. Read more at the Washington Post. Read More >