September 9, 2015
Debate over open ocean fish farms. Open ocean finfish farming is being considered four miles off the coast of San Diego in the Pacific Ocean, and similar ideas are being discussed in the Great Lakes region. The proposed San Diego farm is a joint partnership between Hubbs-Sea World Research Institute and private investors, and would be the nation’s largest, raising yellowtail and sea bass. Presently, it is unclear whether the proposed farm will be permitted. The Great Lakes is new to net pen aquaculture, but Michigan State University and Michigan Sea Grant are testing the waters by hosting a public forum about the topic. Supporters and critics of both regions are lining up to debate the issue. Read the articles at NPR and Michigan State University Extension.
Cargill muscling into the aquaculture feed industry. Cargill, the world’s largest grain trader, has now become one of the three largest aquaculture feed producers with its acquisition of EWOS, a Norwegian salmon feed company. The acquisition cost Cargill $1.5 billion. Historically, farmed salmon have been fed fish meal and fish oil, but as these resources become more scarce, salmon farmers are switching to feeds containing vegetable proteins and oils from crops such as soy. Cargill is a major player in the soybean industry globally, so adding aquaculture feed to their portfolio provides them new markets. Other major corporations are moving towards aquaculture, too. Last year Mitsubishi Corp, a Japanese trading house, purchased the Norwegian company Cermaq ASA for $1.4 billion to become the largest salmon farmer. Read the Bloomberg News article.
Shellfish shells should be recycled. A recent story in Nature suggests that shrimp, crab and lobster shells are being discarded at an alarming rate. The authors Ning Yan and Xi Chen write that the shells are piling up mainly in landfills, at sea, or are ground up into animal feed or fertilizer. Globally, 6 to 8 million metric tons are produced each year, which is just one component of seafood waste and loss along the supply chain. Shells contain significant quantities of protein, calcium carbonate, and chitin. The chemical industry should build shell refineries to take advantage of what could be a valuable resource. Read the article in Nature.
Slave labor in Thailand’s fishing industry. It seems that Thai fishermen have been keeping Cambodian workers on their boats against their will for months or years at a time. These Cambodian slaves are catching fish that are converted to fish meal, which is used to feed the fish raised on fish farms, such as salmon and shrimp. (Fish meal is also used in dog and cat food in the U.S.) Could our penchant for farm-raised salmon be supporting slavery at sea? We need better reporting and monitoring throughout fisheries and fish meal supply chains so we can take a stand against slavery. Read the New York Times article.
Heavy antibiotic use in Chilean salmon industry. Antibiotics use is up 13 percent in the Chilean salmon industry and U.S. companies are beginning to look elsewhere for salmon, noting consumer concern over antibiotics and hormones used to raise meat and seafood. Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, and now Costco is reducing salmon purchases from Chile in favor of countries like Norway, which uses fewer antibiotics. Read the Reuters article.
Norway takes fish health seriously. Ever wonder what viruses, bacteria and parasites are infecting farmed fish? Norway’s notifiable infectious disease tracking system helps keep tabs on diseases as well as animal welfare and limited reporting on transmission to wild fish. Here is what transparency looks like for federal oversight of animal health. Read the full report.
16 aquaculture projects receive U.S. government funding. The Saltonstall-Kennedy Grant Program is a staple funding source for U.S. fisheries and aquaculture researchers. NOAA, the funding agency, recommended 16 aquaculture and 72 fisheries projects for a total of $25 million in funding. Multiple winning projects were in the areas of feed development, shellfish and sea cucumbers. Other winning projects of note were for antifouling coatings, baitfish, ornamentals, and genetics/broodstock development. Read more at NOAA’s website.
Who eats seafood and who doesn’t? Researchers found that four out of five people eat seafood on a monthly basis in the U.S., but most (80 to 90 percent) are not meeting seafood recommendations. Women, people 19-30 years old and individuals with lower levels of income and education all consume less seafood than the average person. The authors say more work is needed to educate consumers about the benefits of seafood and reach dietary consumption guidelines. Read the full article.
Image: Michael Milli, 2015.