Sunday, 29 December 2013

Chile: Millions of Escaped Farmed Salmon, Updated Dec 29, 2013

This post documents the high number of escaped fish from fish farms in Chile. The same Norwegian companies that operate in BC operate in Chile. Cermaq Mainstream, for example, lost 15% of its stock to lice in Chile in the last year. In Norway, the sea lice loss is pegged at $170 Million and $30 Million in Scotland. Here in BC, the same companies are still fighting the notion that lice kill salmon fry.

Now the escaped fish of Chile:

ABSTRACT: The exponential growth of the salmonid farming industry during the last 3 decades has created conditions for massive escapes of these exotic species into natural environments in southern Chile. Here, we review and update information about salmonid escapes from 1993 to 2012 and examine their potential environmental, social, and economic consequences. We estimate that more than 1 million salmonids escape each year from marine farms, mainly due to weather conditions and technical and operational failures of net-pens. While a decrease in the magnitude of escaped Atlantic and coho salmon has occurred during the last several years, escaped rainbow trout have not followed the same pattern. Rainbow trout have become a greater threat to native ecosystems due to their greater potential to establish self-sustaining naturalized populations. The main ecological effects of escapees are related to short-term predatory effects upon native fish, long-term effects linked to the likelihood of farmed salmon establishing self-sustainable populations, and disease and pathogen transfer to native fauna. More research is needed to identify and develop reliable indicators to estimate the impact of escapees at the ecosystem level in both marine and freshwater systems. An understanding of the mechanisms of coexistence between native fishes and introduced non-native salmonids may be useful to design effective management strategies aimed at protecting native fish from salmonid introductions. A precautionary approach that encourages local artisanal and recreational fisheries to counteract colonization and naturalization of salmon species in southern Chile may constitute another management option.  

Further down, from the same article:

The infectious salmon anemia virus has also been documented in salmon farms in Norway, Canada, Scotland, the USA, and recently in Chile, causing enormous damage to the industry and the local and national economy (Niklitschek et al. 2013). In Chile, the potential transmission of diseases from farmed salmonids to other taxa such as marine birds and mammals is yet unknown. However, preliminary evidence of skin lesions in dolphins has suggested a potential link to the salmonid aquaculture industry (S. Heinrich pers. comm.).

This is the first suggestion I have read that begins to document that some fish farm diseases are being passed to warm blooded animals, something that one would not expect because changing hosts of different temperature typically kills the infection; however, you will note the reference.

The graphs on production of farmed fish are good in this document from the main areas in the world. Unfortunately, Pacific and Atlantic production in Canada are lumped together, when they are 5,000 miles apart in different oceans and should not be conjoined.

In addition, look at the high concentration of farms in Chile and compare this with the 130 licences in BC.

From the Niklitschek article:

Chile is the second largest producer of farmed salmon in the world. After reaching a peak harvest of 631 000 tonnes in 2008, a severe sanitary and production crisis triggered a major legal and operational reorganization, and an imminent expansion of the industry into the Ayse´n Fjords System (AFS). This expansion has caused increasing national and international concern about its potential negative impact upon this pristine area, which holds a mosaic of unique ecosystems and three World Biosphere Reserves. This paper reviews and provides some upper bounds to potential impacts under two feasible production scenarios. It is concluded that severe but highly localized mid-term damage to the sea-floor bottom may affect up to 6200 ha. Although this surface area represents only 0.5% of the AFS, the high heterogeneity and limited scientific knowledge of local ecosystems increase the risks of damaging sensitive habitats, communities or populations. While additional inputs of up to 60 000 t of nitrogen and 8000 t of phosphorus can be predicted, the estimation of carrying capacities is a pendant and urgent task to be accomplished in this area. If current escape rates are not reduced, the average number of escaped salmon may exceed 4.4 million individuals each year, able to consume up to 6600 t of pelagic prey from local ecosystems. We recommend following a strict precautionary approach, not granting new farming leases until sufficient information about the risk and magnitude of these impacts is obtained and transformed into effective management actions. Key words: aquaculture, Chile, environmental impact, farming, Patagonia, salmon.

DC: In other words, the fish farm companies are trashing these world class pristine wilderness areas in Patagonia as they do in all of the areas they set up shop promising jobs and revenue. In Chile, during the ISA crisis in 2008, some 13,000 to 26,000 indigenous people lost their jobs.

In BC, after 30 years, the actual fish farm employment is only 795 jobs and GDP contribution is a very small $61.9 Million. They put out more sewage than the entire population of humans in BC. I will document this figure in a future post.

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