Wednesday, 25 February 2015

USDA to Certify Feedlot Fish Farms as Organic

Astonishing everyone who has looked into the environmental damage of in-ocean, open-net fish farms and found them wanting, the USDA is set to certify that they are organic. It is hard to believe, particularly as there are more than 75 on-land fish farms systems on my list that totals some 10,000 on-land actual farms around the world:

The Centre for Food Safety is so alarmed it has written a report on the issue: Water and Oil: Ocean-Based Fish Farming and Organic Don’t Mix

In short, the report notes five key areas that in-ocean open-net fish farms not organic:

* Fish farms at sea pollute the marine environment. 
* Fish farms at sea pose risks to wild species and aquatic ecosystems. 
* Fish farms at sea cannot prevent escapes. 
* Fish farms at sea cannot contain or control inputs and outputs. 
* Farming migratory fish can never be organic. 

Tuesday, 17 February 2015

Seafood Watch Green washes NZ Chinook In-ocean, Open-Net Fish Farm - Updated March 14, 2015

Seafood Watch Green washes NZ Chinook In-ocean, Open-Net Fish Farm

Seafood watch, of Monterey Bay Aquarium, formerly a sound judge of environmentally sound and unsound foods, has seriously eroded its own status by certifying a NZ open-net in-ocean fish farm as green. There is no such thing as an in-ocean open-net fish farm that is green.

Here are my comments appended after the above article on Undercurrents:

Well, let's see, what about sewage, sea lion deaths, anti-fouling paints, unsustainable feeds, toxic chemicals in feed? I'll bet it won't be long before lice and the chemicals to get rid of them show up. And diseases will arrive soon, to. It is the concentration of fish that makes viruses mutate frequently into killers.

And calling the results of escapes as being okay, because the fish come from a different continent seems pretty anti-environmental to me. In Chile, chinook, coho and steelhead have gotten free only to show up in rivers of pristine Patagonia and all the way around to Argentina.. Argentina is not happy.

In most parts of the world, the sewage output is as much as the entire human population of the country, seems 'red' to me. Check the stats on Norway, Scotland and BC. See: There is an index in October 2014.

Also, one of the big environmental problems in Norway right now is the escape of 130,000 PRV and Virus Y infected steelhead. It is pushing even some politicians to say fish farms have to be on land. Go look for the images of these infected fish – that come from Canada, not Norway. You would not eat one.

I would say that Seafood Watch now becomes a listing agency that is no longer about environmentally sound food. Fish farms need to be on land. Sad.

Now, let me update this to March 14, 2015: NZ King salmon has lost several million of its salmon (it will not say how many, because the industry, everywhere I have looked is very keen on secrecy. They want all of their stats, revenue, diseases, lice, killed sea lions, disease testing, to be secret from the people who live in the jurisdiction on the grounds that it is proprietary information and gives competitors advantage, and so on) but says it is several million dollars because fish farm salmon that do okay at 12 - 17 degrees C die at 18 degrees. The ocean stayed above 18 for three months and all the fish died.

This problem, like all the others above, can be solved by putting fish farms on land. On land NZ King would have lost $0 because no fish would have died because closed, recirculating systems can set the temperature at the best rate, and change the photo period too. On land is the only future for fish farms.

Monday, 16 February 2015

Fish Farms Are a Boom Bust Industry

I have done a couple of posts on the boom bust nature of fish farms since the beginning of 2015. These companies are huge multinational firms that exist for shareholder profits. They are not about employee and fish 'happiness'. They are big oligopolies that tend toward market share and result in barriers to entry to individual farmers supporting their families.

Below are chunks from a couple of articles that you can read and educate yourself, as fish farms like to say, on the 'correct facts'. You make your own mind up on this point. I will put mycomments in boldface, so it is clear who is speaking.

Chilean supply pressure
Following the merger of Marine Harvest's Chilean operations with Aquachile, it was highlighted that the deal will bring greater biosecurity for Chile.

The move will also allow a better coordination in the market supply, since fewer sellers will have more margin to negotiate, Giskeodegard said.
DCR: this speaks to the power of oligopolies and barriers to entry.
“Consolidation in the selling side is definitely needed in Chile,” the analyst said.
This could help to avoid situations such as the current Chilean supply pressure, that hit Marine Harvest’s Canadian results in Q4.

DCR: Marine Harvest is in BC Canada. While the lower dollar should have helped Marine Harvest export into the USA, Chilean costs are lower, and they supply more frozen product into the USA.

Current prices involve negative margins for most of Chilean players due to a harvest increase, Giskeodegard said.
“This will last until the supply pressure start to decline; we expect that to happen in the first half of the year,” he said.
“However we expect that the first months of 2015 will be marked by this excessive supply from Chile,” the analyst said.

DCR: The point is oligopoly power. In economics terms, huge firms and cartels/oligopolies tend to less efficient markets, ending in monopolies and higher prices:

The closure of the Russian market has been less of a problem for Marine Harvest than some its competitors, as the company "benefits from its global sales reach and logistical flexibility, its comprehensive contracts with long term customers and its increasing share of salmon sold as value added products, with less volatile prices".

Marine Harvest has proved less sensitive to regional cost variation due to its geographically well diversified production structure, the company said.
Despite this, "the fourth quarter was, however, impacted by the reduction in Russian purchasing power, high regional costs due to biological challenges in Europe and weak prices in Americas", said Marine Harvest.
DCR: This article is good to illustrate that fish farms are about shareholders, not fish welfare, not sea welfare, not employees. It’s all about business. 
The cost of medication per kg harvested was 70% higher in the fourth quarter of 2014 than in the corresponding period in 2013, while the estimated exceptional cost related to sea lice mitigation amounted to NOK 117m, compared to NOK 62m.

(In Europe)
Exceptional mortality losses amounting to NOK 27m were recognized in the quarter, of which NOK 21m is included in the cost of lice mitigation. Losses from exceptional mortality in the fourth quarter of 2013 were NOK 18m.

DCR: Marine Harvest, Cermaq and Grieg Seafood all operate in Norway, where lice have been a very big issue in the past couple of years.

Canadian results hit by lower prices
In Canada, increased supply from Chile suppressed prices and saw the company’s Q4 ebit decline 56.89% y-o-y, to NOK 25m. Meanwhile, harvest volumes were 6,819t, up from 5,726t in Q4 of 2013.
The reduction in profitability is due to a reduction in the reference price in market currency of 26% compared to the fourth quarter of 2013.
The cost per kg harvested has been reduced from 2013, however.

“The market for fresh whole Canadian salmon has been challenging in the period, due to a significant increase in the supply of salmon of both North American and Chilean origin,” said Marine Harvest.
DCR: Typically the BC advantage is shipping fresh fish and fresh fillets, something that Chile can't do. And still there were losses. With Marine Harvest operating in both BC and Chile. In other words, they play one country against the other to maximize profits.
After a dip in supply in 2013 and the first half of 2014, the supply of North American salmon started to increase in the third quarter.
In the fourth quarter the increase was more than 10% compared to the same period in 2013.
The increase in the supply of Chilean salmon was approximately 19% in the period compared to 2013. “The increase in salmon supply in the US market has therefore been substantial compared to the same period one year ago, which is the driver behind the low market price in the period,” the company said.
DCR: Do note that Norwegian companies were granted a big advantage by removal of 26% tarrif in the USA a year ago. Still they are are trying to open up farms now in the US, having floated a big bond on the stock market to raise cash. Playing one country against another, against another.
Compared to the fourth quarter of 2013, the reference price in market currency was down by 26%.
On a positive note, biological costs for salmon harvested in the period decreased by 8% compared to the fourth quarter of 2013. There was no exceptional mortality recognized in the fourth quarter of 2013 and 2014.
Chile turns back to US

Operational ebit for salmon of Chilean origin amounted to NOK 6m in the period, down 82.82% y-o-y.
Harvested volume was 16,602t in the fourth quarter, compared to 14,136t.
“The significant reduction in market prices compared to the fourth quarter of 2013 was only partially mitigated by favorable cost development, good market performance and volume increase,” said Marine Harvest.
The Urner Barry reference price for Chilean salmon was down by 13% compared to the fourth quarter of 2013 due to increased supply in the North American market.
“Even if all European salmon origins, with the exception of Faroese salmon currently is banned in Russia, the lack of customer guarantees and the sudden reduction in the Russian purchasing power distorted Chilean sales to this market in the period,” said Marine Harvest.
DCR: So Marine Harvest, with farms in Norway which Russia has blocked, still has sales to Russia from Chile that is not part of the sanction of the western allies regarding the war in the Ukraine.
The resulting increase in salmon supply in the US market has been substantial compared to the same period one year ago, which is the driver behind the low market price in the quarter, the company said.
Cost wise, Marine Harvest said its Chilean operations performs well as a result of good farming practices and changes in the feeding regime, “but the biological development in Chile remains a concern”.
The sea lice load at the end of the quarter was higher than at the corresponding time in 2013, the company said.
DCR: Chile has ISA, too, but with low reporting, of this and other factors, Chile is acknowledged as particularly fouled ocean.
Compared to the fourth quarter of 2013, the biological cost has been reduced by 10%.
Improvements in the feed conversion ratio have mitigated the effect of increasing feed prices, while good seawater growth has contributed to reduce other seawater cost per kg. Lice mitigation costs have remained stable compared to the same period last year, the company said.
In the fourth quarter, the full cost per kg for a head on gutted salmon packed in a standard box was approximately $4.50/kg, which is up by $0.20/kg from the third quarter in 2014.
The company has significant plans for expansion in Chile, with its deals for the assets of Acuinova Chile, formerly part of Pescanova, as well as an agreement to merge with Aquachile.
DCR: Merger, merger, merger.
The deal for Acuinova Chile represents a capacity to produce about 40 000t of salmon gutted weight per year.
This asset purchase includes a hatchery, a smolt facility, 36 seawater licenses and a primary and secondary processing facility, all located in Chile’s region XI. The biomass included in the deal is expected to generate a harvest volume of about 15,000t gutted weight in 2015, Marine Harvest said.
The deal to merge Marine Harvest's Chilean business with Aquachile is considered transformative for the sector.
On Jan. 19, Marine Harvest announced the plan, which will mean the surviving entity will be Aquachile, which will continue to be listed on the Santiago Stock Exchange on a stand-alone basis.
Upon completion of the merger, Marine Harvest will own 42.8% of the combined entity. In conjunction with the merger, Marine Harvest has agreed on a standstill position of its ownership in Aquachile until June 15, 2016. From June 15, 2016 until June 15, 2017, Marine Harvest will have the option to acquire further shares in Aquachile through a tender offer that at a minimum will give Marine Harvest an ownership interest of 55%.
The resulting increase in salmon supply in the US market has been... 

Thursday, 5 February 2015

BC Fish Farms - Low Employment

I have made the point before that BC fish farms are not about revenue and employment. They are about putting money in shareholder pockets.

While they continue to make the erroneous claim of 6,000 employees and $800 million in revenue in BC, the actual stats are far lower.

There are only 795 actual employees of fish farms in BC. I went out and found the figure. The BC Stats report on the 'fishing sectors' says that all of aquaculture amounts to only a $61.9 million contribution to GPP. By comparison, the rest of the fishing sector contribute ten times as much at over $600 Million, most from the sport fishery for wild salmon.


Grieg Seafood, in a letter to Campbell River Council, asking for support for its application for two more fish farms in Clio Channel by West Cracroft Island, confirms just how low fish farm employment is.

Th letter is from: "Marilyn Hutchinson, Director of Human Resources, Sustainability and Growth for Grieg Seafood BC Ltd., whose head office is located in Campbell River."

The letter said the actual employment is, "around 890 persons."

Their current actual number of employees is only 14% of what the industry claims. 

Back in their own country, Norway, Marine Harvest, Cermaq and Grieg Seafood, are the subject of intense scrutiny because of recent escapes of 120,000 diseased steelhead, lice far exceeding limits, and recently scientists and doctors telling Norwegians not to eat farmed salmon because of the toxic chemicals in them.

BC Fish Farms Subsidized by Taxpayers - $2 Million Each

In Norway fish farms must pay $1.69 million or almost $2 million Canadian, to get a licence.

In BC, because we have very low fees ($5171.25 X 130 = $67,000), it means we are subsidizing every farm to the tune of $2 million. What this means is that Norwegian-style fish farms have no argument for not being put on land, because of cost. They are subsidized now $2 Million.

We taxpayers are subsidizing the entire industry of 130 farms (80 operating at any given time) to the tune of $260 million. This is 400% of the entire aquaculture contribution to GPP of $61.9 Million.

Norwegian fish farms in BC need to be on land just like the 10,000 other actual on-land farms around the world.

Wednesday, 4 February 2015

Lice in Norway – Biomass of Polluters to be Cut in Half - Stricter Laws than BC, Canada

“In a controversial move, the Norwegian Food Safety Authority (NFSA) has released a list ranking all fish farms across the country according to their sea lice levels, as part of its intensified campaign to fight lice and crack down on farms that regularly fail to be within the allowed limit.”

“Companies in the yellow and red categories will be closely monitored by NFSA and will receive early warnings of measures to put in place to stay within the 0.5 limit, said the agency. Such measures will depend on the farms, with the harshest being that their biomass allowance could be cut, as happened with Bremnes Seashore and Nova Sea last month.”

Comment: you can find both Bremnes and Nova Sea in the red portion of the list.

“On Jan. 20, the agency marked a first when it warned it would halve the allowed biomass at three sites belonging to Bremnes Seashore and Nova Sea as of this spring, saying the sites had regularly failed to keep lice levels under control.”

Comment: Last year, the CEO of Marine Harvest said he was very unhappy that 40% of Norwegian farms don’t report their lice numbers.

In BC, on the other hand, the Harper government’s Minister Shea is eliminating laws to monitor chemical use in fish farms. These are the same companies, Marine Harvest, Cermaq and Grieg Seafood, that operate in Norway, where laws are stricter, and getting stricter.

BC does not want the Canadian laws weakened. We want fish farms out of our pristine ocean. More than 100,000 British Columbians have signed a petition to eliminate fish farm expansion and to get fish farms out of our water:

Tuesday, 3 February 2015

Norway To Make Laws Stricter, Not Looser Like in Canada - Shame on Shea

Things have gotten so bad where fish farms have come from, Norway, that citizens, news and even politicians are calling for tighter laws against the environmental damage causedby fish farms.

Read the translated article:

Storms have broken apart farms and released more than 100,000 farmed fish, including Canadian Steelehad. Locals are trying desperately to prevent the steelhead from spawning in Atlantic salmon rivers.

"We do not need more such blunders. It is also appropriate to strengthen legislation so that both public authorities and the industry gets involved far earlier than was the case after Nina."

And " Fisheries out with a list of where fishermen could return the fish, and on top of this dissuaded authorities to eat one portion of fish due to sea lice treatment it had conducted. 
All this has created a problematic image of the industry, "

Locals are not to eat the fish due to the sea lice toxic chemicals in the farmed fish.

"The companies must be held responsible more and rules by recapture must be the same for large and small. The rules on the polluter-pays must also apply in this industry. Public opinion expects quick action, which we believe most in the industry also recognizes the need."

So lice, escapes, chemicals, pollution. All items for stiffer laws in Norway. Why is Gail Shea bringing weaker laws in Canada - for the same companies that operate in Norway.