“It is horrifying that we have to fight our own government to save the environment.” – Ansel Adams
In an effort to share and provide further education regarding the issues that surround the proposed aquaculture fish farm on the Au Sable, below you will find a compiled list of documented concerns with aquaculture.
From Natural Society (Click here for more):
Fish farms cause serious environmental damage – Raising fish on farms causes serious ecological harm—by polluting natural waterways and more. The U.S. farmed fish industry is said to have $700 million in hidden costs, which is incidentally half the annual production value of the farms.
Farm-raised fish can be rife with disease – Because they are crowded into areas that are far more compact than in a natural environment, disease and illness can spread rampantly. Oftentimes, these diseases can even spread to wild populations.
From Food and Water Watch (Click here for more)
Massive amounts of antibiotics, hormones, and pesticides are required to keep disease at bay just to keep fish and shrimp alive in overcrowded conditions (typically in nets, cages, or ponds). The risk of contamination is high, both to the surrounding water and within the enclosures themselves.
Uneaten fish feed, fish waste, and any antibiotics or chemicals used in fish farm operations flow through the cages directly into the ocean. This can significantly harm the ocean environment. Caged fish can escape and compete for resources or interbreed with wild fish and weaken important genetic traits. Farmed fish can spread disease to wild fish.
Factory fish farms may interfere with the livelihoods of commercial and recreational fishermen by displacing them from traditional fishing grounds or harming wild fish populations.
From Mercola.com (Click here for more)
The Jevons Paradox says that “as production methods grow more efficient, demand for resources actually increases – rather than decreasing, as you might expect,” MindBodyGreen reports.7 This is precisely what has happened with aquaculture.
Aquaculture has been deemed both ecologically and economically unstable, with “an unequal tradeoff between environmental costs and economic benefits.” In the US, hidden environmental costs are said to cost $700 million a year, which is half the annual production value of the farms.
There are multiple problems that result when farmed fish escape into the wild (which they do, in the numbers of millions each year). For starters, the ‘wild’ North Atlantic salmon that you purchase may actually be a farmed escapee, making it difficult to know what you’re really eating. The escaped fish also breed with wild fish, and research shows that these hybrid-born fish are less viable and die earlier than wild salmon. This could contaminate the entire gene pool and harm the future of the wild population.
From the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy (Click here for more)
The main environmental effects of marine aquaculture can be divided into the following five categories:
Biological Pollution: Fish that escape from aquaculture facilities may harm wild fish populations through competition and inter-breeding, or by spreading diseases and parasites. Escaped farmed Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar) are a particular problem, and may threaten endangered wild Atlantic salmon in Maine. In the future, farming transgenic, or genetically modified, fish may exacerbate concerns about biological pollution.
Fish for Fish Feeds: Some types of aquaculture use large quantities of wild-caught fish as feed ingredients, and thus indirectly affect marine ecosystems thousands of miles from fish farms.
Organic Pollution and Eutrophication: Some aquaculture systems contribute to nutrient loading through discharges of fish wastes and uneaten feed. Compared to the largest U.S. sources of nutrient pollution, aquaculture’s contribution is small, but it can be locally significant.
Chemical Pollution: A variety of approved chemicals are used in aquaculture, including antibiotics and pesticides. Chemical use in U.S. aquaculture is low compared to use in terrestrial agriculture, but antibiotic resistance and harm to nontarget species are concerns.
Some environmental impacts of U.S. marine aquaculture have considerable immediacy. Since organisms cannot be recalled once they are released, biological pollution is often permanent.
Other biological impacts from aquaculture may not pose immediate threats to endangered species. Nevertheless, potential introductions of marine diseases, parasites, and transgenic fish could permanently harm fish populations and even marine ecosystems.
From Modern Farmer (Click here for more)
The vast majority of farmed fish are raised with methods that are detrimental to the environment (and sometimes the consumer) in one or more of the following ways:
Removes unsustainable quantities of water from rivers or ground sources
Returns contaminated water to local water bodies
Employs hormones, antibiotics and aquatic biocides that damage local ecosystems and have negative effects on public health
Raises fish on pelleted feed made with unsustainable ingredients, such as GMO soybeans and the waste products of factory-farmed livestock
Fails to prevent the escape of farmed fish into nearby waterways, where they may behave as invasive species and spread disease
We have estimated a significant increase in mortality of wild salmonids exposed to salmon farming across many regions. However, estimates for individual regions are dependent on assumptions detailed in the Materials and Methods section, and the estimates often have large confidence intervals. Given that the data analysed are affected by considerable noise—including changes in fishing and environmental factors—the important result of this study is that we are nonetheless able to detect a large, statistically significant effect correlated with trends in farmed salmon production. The significant increase in mortality related to salmon farming that we have estimated in almost all cases is in addition to mortality that is also acting on the control populations.
Here’s what you can do to help, go to the Anglers of the Au Sable site and read their statements regarding the issue and make a donation (if you are able to) to the cause. (Click here for more)
Order a shirt supporting the efforts (Click here for more)