Near- and Offshore Finfish Aquaculture Poses Risks to the Environment and Public Health – John Hopkins University

New report just in from the Bloomberg School of Public Health’s Department of Environmental Health and Engineering at John Hopkins University. Follow the links below for the full transcript of the report.


Expanding the nearshore finfish industry or establishing an offshore industry in the United States carries significant risks to aquatic ecosystems and public health, according to a report published today by researchers at the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future in the Bloomberg School of Public Health’s Department of Environmental Health and Engineering.

Near- and offshore finfish aquaculture (NOFA) is a method of fish production that occurs in net pens or cages with free exchange of water with the surrounding environment. Although there are currently very few US NOFA operations, some stakeholders have expressed interest in developing the industry in US state and federal waters.

The report assesses whether an expanded industry in the US would be environmentally sound and safe based on current production practices. The research team found the major issues surrounding NOFA to be: large numbers of recent farmed fish escapes, infectious disease outbreaks on farms, development of drug resistant parasites and bacteria, persistence of veterinary drugs in the environment, fish waste causing local and regional ecosystem impacts, and dangers that could cause elevated rates of injury and death among workers. The research team notes that some of these issues can be minimized or addressed with improved regulation and monitoring. Other issues, such as fish escapes and release of fish waste, are inevitable outcomes of fish farming in open water systems as currently practiced.

“The recent net pen breach of more than 160,000 farmed Atlantic salmon near Puget Sound is an illustrative example of how things can go wrong with these kinds of operations,” said Jillian Fry, PhD, director of the Public Health & Sustainable Aquaculture Project at CLF and faculty member in the Department of Environmental Health and Engineering. “Globally, many millions of fish have escaped net pen farms. Unfortunately, this is not a new problem to fish farming in coastal or ocean waters.”

Proponents of increasing NOFA operations in the US commonly highlight improvements in specific production practices, but it is often unclear how widely improvements have been adopted. Researchers say the tendency to rely upon the application of existing laws, instead of creating a new regulatory system specifically for aquaculture, has led to regulatory gaps. As a result, many risks described in the report are not adequately monitored or addressed under current US law.

The authors further state that to reduce the potential for conflicts of interest, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), which oversees these finfish operations with other federal agencies, should separate their roles of policy and regulatory development from that of industry promotion. They are concerned that the current situation could lead to decisions that favor industry growth and profitability at the expense of protections for ecosystems and public health.

“Putting NOFA operations in the Gulf of Mexico and other regions is expected to be increasingly risky due to severe weather events associated with climate change. The regulations we currently have in place are simply not designed to effectively handle these risks,” said Fry. “Based on the studies included in our report, NOAA should not approve new operations or implement new permitting in additional regions of the US until the recommendations we’ve outlined are fully implemented.”

Ecosystem and Public Health Risks from Near- and Offshore Finfish Aquaculture and Policy Changes Needed to Address Current Risks” was written by Jillian P. Fry, David C. Love, and Gabriel Innes.

A disgrace: Ten million salmon thrown away by fish farm industry in last year alone – The Herald Scotland

The world of salmon farming in Scotland. Wonder what our statistics are:

THE Scottish fish farming industry has admitted that it threw away up to ten million salmon last year – nearly a quarter of its stock – because of diseases, parasites and other problems.

Official figures reveal the tonnages of dead fish that had to be disposed of has more than doubled from 10,599 in 2013 to a record high of 22,479 in 2016. Most are transported south to be burnt at an incinerator in Widnes near Warrington in northwest England.

 

http://www.heraldscotland.com/news/15583156.A_disgrace__ten_million_salmon_thrown_away_by_fish_farm_industry_in_last_year_alone/?ref=mr&lp=6

Protest flotilla surrounds net pen off Bainbridge

DJI_0109 Panorama

A flotilla of boats Saturday surrounded the net pens on the south end of Bainbridge Island. Sequim photographer/filmmaker John Gussman was there.

It’s time to demand an end to net pens in the Sound.

Look at the full set of stills at

http://www.dcproductions.com/nofishpens/

 

“Solar eclipse’s” high tides break net, dumping up to 305,000 Atlantic salmon into waters near San Juan Islands – Seattle Times

(UPDATE: It still has not been definitively proven that the eclipse caused this failure. It was a story put forward by the company. It may not be accurate.)

“Whatever could go wrong?” they said and keep saying…. And the same company is wanting to put a huge net pen directly in the path of migrating wild salmon just west of Port Angeles. Public testimony will come in September. Hope you can attend! Note in the story that this company has treated these escaped fish for disease once already, and whatever they treated them with was also released into the Sound. Now these fish are out in the wild, competing with our wild salmon, including likely eating wild smolt.

I keep reminding people that we have spent and continue to spend hundreds of millions of dollars to restore wild stock. Elwha dam removal, re-engineering river beds, and much more, just to save our wild stocks. We keep allowing one small industry to put non-native fish that create disease vectors, attract wild salmon to the pens for food, put antibiotics into the waters around the pens, and destroy bottom habitat, usually for good (check out the waters under the old pens in Port Townsend for example). It’s time to call a halt to this nonsense based on an erroneous belief that this is a good way to grow protein.

Thousands of 10-pound Atlantic salmon were accidentally released into the waters between Anacortes and the San Juan Islands, and officials are asking people to catch as many as possible. Tribal fishers, concerned about native salmon populations, call the accident “a devastation.”

http://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/environment/oops-after-accidental-release-of-atlantic-salmon-fisherman-being-told-catch-as-many-as-you-want/

Net Pen Application & Public Hearing scheduled for Clallam County

So here we go folks. Your waters, your voice. We have spent hundreds of millions of dollars trying to save and restore wild salmon, now we are expected to trade off the known downsides of net pens for our wild salmon. Net pens are disease vectors, they pollute the waters with feces of millions of fish, and the anti-biotics and other drugs that are needed to protect the herded fish from disease. They are a breeding ground for sea lice which then attach themselves to migrating fish from the entire Sound that will passing by the pens. This is an incredibly bad idea that will only profit a small shareholder class and the tiny number of workers employed by them. Is this really what we want? This is your chance to speak out. It’s not happening, “somewhere else.”  This is here in our waters right offshore.

From Peninsula Daily News Classified

Description
NOTICE OF APPLICATION AND PUBLIC HEARING NOTICE IS HEREBY GIVEN, pursuant to Section 26.10.410 & 430 CCC, that the Clallam County Department of Community Development has scheduled a public hearing before the Clallam County Hearings Examiner for September 7, 2017 at 2:00 p.m. in Room 160 of the Clallam County Courthouse, 223 East Fourth Street, Port Angeles, WA 98362. The purpose of the hearing is to review public testimony regarding the Shoreline Substantial Permit for the Cooke Aquaculture Pacific LLC (CAP) proposal to move their existing Atlantic salmon net pen operation from within Port Angeles Harbor (Ediz Hook) to an open water area in the Strait of Juan de Fuca that is located over 1.5 miles offshore and 3.8 miles east of terminus of Ediz Hook: Proposal: (SHR 2016-00002) The proposal would be comprised of fourteen (14) floating high density polyethylene (HDPE) plastic pipe circular net pens, which are designed for open water conditions. Each net pen will be 126 feet in diameter, 45 feet deep, and in approximately 100 foot deep water. The proposal also includes a 40 foot wide by 100 foot long feed barge. The height of the feed barge will be approximately 19 feet above the water level when empty and 14 feet when is fully loaded with about 350 tons of fish feed. The pens would be comprised of two rows of 7 pens each with a feed barge at the eastern end of the array. Each of the net pens and the feed barge would be located 72 feet apart from each other, and would be held in place by up to sixty 4,000 to 8,000 mooring anchor, anchor lines, chains, and hardware. This proposal would encompass 9.7 acres of water surface area and require a 52 acre Aquatic lease from the WA State Department of Natural Resources (DNR). Location of the Proposal: The CAP new aquaculture net pen facility is proposed to be located approximately 3.8 miles east of Ediz Hook, 1.8 miles north of Morse Creek, and approximately 1.5 miles north of Green Point, within Section 10, Township 30 North, Range 5 West, W.M. Information & Studies Submitted: A Joint Aquatic Resource Application (JARPA) with attachments, SEPA Environmental Checklist with attachments, Biological Evaluation, Current and Wave Report prepared by RPS Evans-Hamilton, Sediment Report prepared by RPS Evans-Hamilton, Mooring Analysis Report – Grid System prepared by Aqua Knowledge, and Visual Analysis Report (January 2016) were submitted with the application. Permits Required & Studies Submitted: Section 402 National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) Waste Discharge Permit and Coastal Zone Management Compliance Determination through the Washington Department of Ecology; Fin Fish Aquaculture Permit, Fin Fish Transport Permit, and Aquatic Farm Registration through Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife; Aquatic Use Authorization through DNR; Private Aids to Navigation with the United States Coast Guard; and Section 10 Permit Authorization with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which will include ESA Section 7 Consultation with National Marine Fisheries Services and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA): Clallam County is lead agency and a SEPA environmental checklist (ECL 2016-03) has been submitted for the proposal. After review of the completed environmental checklist, the SEPA Memo dated July 5, 2017, and other information on file with the agency, the Clallam County Responsible Official has determined that a Mitigated Determination of Non-Significance (MDNS) should be issued for this proposal. The MDNS for this proposal was issued July 6, 2017, and the comment period for this threshold determination ends on July 24, 2017. Unless the Responsible Official withdraws the threshold determination pursuant to WAC 197-11-340(3)(a), the threshold determination shall be final at the end of the comment period. The Hearing Examiner will consider the adequacy of the Threshold Determination at the open record public hearing. Public hearing and comment deadlines: Any interested person may submit written or oral comments on the proposal and the threshold determination of a MDNS prior to the close of the open record hearing. The staff report will be available seven days before the hearing. Any person may also submit a written request to DCD to receive a notice of the decision once it is made. The application and above referenced material is available at DCD On-Line Permit System web site or at our offices at 223 E. 4th St., Suite 5, Port Angeles, WA 98362, Monday through Friday, between 8:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. Please contact Greg Ballard, Project Planner at (360) 565-2616, or by email at gballard@co.clallam.wa.us if you have any questions. Pub: July 9, 16, 2017 Legal No.766276

 

 

 

Gulf Of Mexico Open For Fish-Farming Business – NPR

NOAA continues its promotion of the aquaculture fish farming industry. Since the government destroyed huge swaths of the Gulf with its lack of stiff enforcement of oil drilling, now it has decided that fish farming there is a great idea. No environmentalists  anywhere in the world that have looked at this industry think it’s a good idea. And the fish farming industry and NOAA are targeting  opening  up the Salish Sea for more fish farming also.  Their science on it, when you read it, is missing key issues of investigation, such as long term affects of the bottom and the general larger habitat around the fish. The experience of fish farming in British Columbia, Norway and other locations, is one of vast overuse of antibiotics, needed because of dense packing in the cages, which create a vector for disease, like sea lice infestations that are infecting wild stocks that pass by the cages. Escaped farm fish compete with native species, coverups of massive problems with disease by the highly secretive farming industry and smear campaigns for highly credible scientists and their labs, including using the Government of Canada to arbitrarily shut down the labs involved after they publish their results (under the Harper and Christie government two and three  years ago) and a basic lack of concern for anything but their own bottom lines. While I support much of what NOAA does, this area is very suspiciously looking like it has been corrupted by the industry that it is supposed to be impartially regulating.

This is yet another example of a Democratic administration doing exactly what we would expect from a Republican one. It is the kind of arrogance towards our shared environment and the people of the Gulf that fuels the anger of the electorate towards Washington D.C. and the administrators there that choose business over the environment time and time again.  It’s worth remembering that Obama opened up offshore oil drilling against environmentalists concerns just weeks before the Gulf Spill in March 2010, saying it was ‘safe’ and that we had great safeguards. He was proven wrong in May of that year. He has since reopened drilling off the coast, even after the BP spill, against the wishes of Governors of those coastal states affected by the decision. Now he is opening up Gulf waters for large scale fish pens. We are also targeted for that same treatment, as fish farms are proposed west of Port Angeles at present time. The State demanded that counties not ban fish farming in their Shoreline Master Programs, and actually have held up approval of the Jefferson County SMP over that very issue. Luckily we have had Phil Johnson an ex-fisherman, fighting this issue with the State, but at present it is still legal to open a fish farm in Jefferson County, over the objections of both a scientific panel and a citizen advisory group of 20 citizens that included a shellfish farmer. When I questioned the previous head of the State of Washington Department of Ecology, he had no idea that it was even a problem worth addressing. The latest head of DOE is a lawyer as well as an administrator and she is unwilling to seriously discuss reversing her department’s decision.

To be clear, while I’m  disappointed in the administration for allowing this, voting in the opposition will simply make it worse, as the Republicans have never seen an environmental law they like. Just look at Flint Michigan for a great example of Republican oversight of the environment.  Our best efforts are to fight decisions like this in the courts, contact our representatives to make them aware of the public feelings on the issue, make it an issue at elections, and elect people like Phil Johnson who will fight against the influence of big money industries trading off the environment and our wild fish for short term profits.

To their credit, NPR does point out the  criticisms of this decision.

The Gulf of Mexico is now open for commercial fish farming. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) announced last month that, for the first time in the U.S., companies can apply to set up fish farms in federal waters. The idea is to compete with hard-to-regulate foreign imports. But opening the Gulf to aquaculture won’t be cheap, and it could pose environmental problems. Tegan Wendland reports. (NPR)

http://www.kplu.org/post/gulf-mexico-open-fish-farming-business

Fisheries and Oceans Canada looking into claims of sick herring–Times Colonist

Less than 100 miles or so north of us, the crisis of sick herring (and the disease vector that appears to be farmed Atlantic Salmon) is about to explode.  Can our fisheries be far behind?

Fisheries and Oceans Canada is trying to confirm reports from an independent biologist that herring around northern Vancouver Island have a disease that is causing bleeding from their gills, bellies and eyeballs.

Alexandra Morton wrote to DFO asking for an investigation and viral testing of the fish after she pulled up a net of about 100 herring near Sointula and found they were all bleeding.

Read the whole story at the Times Colonist:

http://www.timescolonist.com/business/fisheries-and-oceans-canada-looking-into-claims-of-sick-herring-1.588652

%d bloggers like this: