NOAA: Coastal ocean aquaculture can be environmentally sustainable –

Little to no effects on coastal ocean environment seen with proper safeguards, planning. says: “This report does nothing to change our belief that the lack of significant research into long term effects of net pens on wild stocks, the issue of sea lice infestation and antibiotic use, is of great concern. Over 20 years of net pen useage have gone on without these issues being investigated. “

Specific types of fish farming can be accomplished with minimal or no harm to the coastal ocean environment as long as proper planning and safeguards are in place, according to a new report from researchers at NOAA’s National Ocean Service.

The study, led by scientists at National Ocean Service’s National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science (NCCOS), evaluated the environmental effects of finfish aquaculture, including interactions with water quality, benthic habitats, and marine life across various farming practices and habitat types. says: However, the study is simply an update on existing knowledge. The core questions that are being raised by Alexandra Morton and others, just north of us in British Columbia, are not addressed.  Here’s where we find that the research is missing. Wording directly out of the summary of the report: 

A knowledge gap continues to be how  dissolved nutrients are dispersed and assimilated  over large marine areas, and how ecosystem  productivity may be affected under increasing production from multiple farms.

At  moderately impacted  farms, effects may extend to 100 meters beyond the farm edge

The far-field effects of aquaculture to the ecological functionality of food webs and secondary production have not been studied, are difficult to ascertain and should be an area of future monitoring and research efforts.

Wild fish and other marine life often aggregate around fish cages and this may be considered a beneficial impact to marine life at some locations. As fish are attracted to farms, the potential for negative and positive interactions with human fishers may increase and farm management or regulatory steps should be considered to minimize conflicts. Likewise, marine fish and mammalian predators may also be attracted to farms. Little research has documented the extent to which marine predators target wild fish around farms, but this would be useful for understanding ecological interactions between farming and marine life.


One Response

  1. The location of aquaculture sites seems to be a very important determiner on whether or not there are negative impacts, to local marine life. These impacts ranging from pollution of marine sediments, drops in water quality, and long-term negative effects on the local environment and wild fish stocks still (according to NOAA) need study. While Canada seems to be ignoring many of these concerns, US aquaculture could really benefit from following a more enlightened approach. Let’s hope that’s how it works out.

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