March 13, 2018

CLF Aquaculture News: March 2018

Dave Love

Dave Love

Associate Scientist, Public Health & Sustainable Aquaculture Project

Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future

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.

Atlantic salmon are still being caught three months after they escaped from the Cooke Aquaculture facility, some as far as 42 miles up the Skagit River, a breeding ground for wild Pacific salmon. If salmon entered one river they could be in others, as well, notes one expert. Questions remain, however, about long-term impacts on wild salmon. The majority of Atlantic salmon captured after the escape were not sexually mature, were free of disease, and did not have anything their stomachs—meaning they may not be competing with wild salmon. One fisheries manager said, “These fish are basically their entire life on pellet food, and I am not sure they would recognize anything that is not a pellet as a food source … they are like cattle.” Other stakeholders do not share this view. Scott Schuyler, a Natural Resource Director for the Upper Skagit Indian Tribe said of the salmon, “They are interacting with the native speciesThey are a living creature. They are not going to just roll over and die. To have an invasive species here is just so concerning.” Read more at Seattle Times.

Genetically engineered (GE) salmon and the debate about the benefits and drawbacks of the product continue to be in the news. The topic on everybody’s mind is whether GE salmon should be sold in US grocery stores, and if so, whether  consumers will accept the product. Read more at The Atlantic.

Forced labor still exists in the Thai fishing industry despite high-profile efforts by the government to reduce this illegal practice.  One study by the International Justice Mission, an anti-trafficking group, found that one third of 260 fishermen surveyed were forced to work, some at least 16 hours per day and in debt bondage. Read more at Thomson Reuters Foundation News.

The Monterey Bay Aquarium, developers of the Seafood Watch program for sustainable seafood ratings, just released a new rating for forced labor. The Seafood Slavery Risk Tool breaks new ground in the area of seafood sustainability by including labor issues. Read more at FERN.  Read Monterey Bay’s report about the Thailand forage fish industry.

Alaskan fisheries want to increase sales of fish heads and trimmings for alternative uses like fish oil and feed. This new move is about increasing profits from byproducts that would otherwise be discarded, but outside groups are also cheering the decision to reduce seafood waste. Our research team found a staggering 47 percent of seafood, from net to plate, is wasted in the United States. Read more at National Fishermen and our seafood waste paper at the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future.

You can follow these journalists on Twitter! @LyndaVMapes, @RMartinBoulder, @c_leschin, @BehLihYi

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