Norwegian company to build large, land-based salmon farm in Belfast Maine – Republican Journal

News from Maine, shows that fish farming corporations have finally come to grips with the fact that it’s net pen aquaculture doesn’t work, and are moving to build upland facilities that are financially viable. We hope that the Tribes here in Puget Sound, who are holding off support for banning net pens, can use this information to press State Senators Ranker and Van de Wege to add funding for a couple of experimental sites to prove the viability here in Puget Sound. The use of our waters for ‘feed lot’ kind of fish farming, pouring vast arrays of chemicals and fish food must end. We know that the Tribes ‘do the right thing’ as it comes to aquaculture and we hope that they can exert pressure to help them get from this dying technology of net pens, to a new way forward with upland containment.

A Norwegian company plans to build one of the world’s largest land-based salmon farms in Belfast, a project that would create 60 jobs within two years and up to 140 once it is completed, according to the company’s chief executive officer.

https://www.pressherald.com/2018/01/30/norwegian-company-to-build-large-land-based-salmon-farm-in-belfast/

The B.C. Scallop Farmer’s Acid Test – The Tyee

More on the emerging ocean acidification issues of aquaculture. 

Rob Saunders points a flashlight into the depths of an immense plastic tank at his hatchery, illuminating millions of scallop larvae as tiny as dust particles. “Think of these as canaries in a coal mine,” says the marine biologist turned embattled shellfish farming CEO. It is here at Island Scallops’ facility in Qualicum Beach, located just inland from British Columbia’s shellfish farming epicentre of Baynes Sound, that ocean acidification wreaked havoc. Beginning in 2011, the company’s scallop brood stock (adult shellfish bred over 25 years to be disease-resistant and exceptionally meaty), began to die. Christopher Pollon reports. (The Tyee)

http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2015/11/19/climate-change-scallops_n_8597502.html

Gear, not geoducks, impacts ecosystem if farming increases – UW Today

Worth noting. The controversy over the conversion of natural shoreline to industrial aquaculture because of the current high prices being commanded in the Far East, is given new ammunition by a study done by the UW. This study should be read with the earlier 7 year study by Washington Sea Grant, that showed that impacts to the nearshore were reversible. That does not mean that they were non-existant. The biggest concern many people have is that entire bays are being converted to what amounts to a commercial farm, with near shore habitats being converted from natural to endless seas of tens of thousands of plastic pipe, which is used to protect the immature geoducks from predators. Harvests are done at low tide, meaning that in the winter, a homeowner may find themselves being kept awake by the compressors that are used to blow air to get to the ducks. With the value of the near shore properties and a lack of transparency by many real estate agents, it often comes as a very unpleasant surprise to new home owners. Once converted to aquaculture, the shorelines will never be allowed to return to a natural state, unless the market collapses permanently. And the state of Washington bureaucrats are really not interested in stopping this growth, being very much supportive of commercial aquaculture over natural shores. They believe that the carrying capacity of the Sound is able to handle it, but they have made these decisions with little science to back it in the past. With all these new studies, it’s now up to citizens in the various locales to raise these issues as policy decisions rather than trying to stop the new farms based on environmental concerns alone. Balancing this is the fact that the Tribes are entitled do aquaculture based on historical treaty rights, and aquaculture is one of the core protected activities of our state constitution, because the founding fathers recognized food production over all other concerns. As usual, there is no simple answer here.

The equipment used to farm geoducks, including PVC pipes and nets, might have a greater impact on the Puget Sound food web than the addition of the clams themselves. That’s one of the findings of the first major scientific study to examine the broad, long-term ecosystem effects of geoduck aquaculture in Puget Sound, published last week in the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea’s Journal of Marine Science. Michelle Ma reports. (UW Today)

Though these results show that Puget Sound can generally support more geoduck aquaculture, if effectively managed, the model can’t drill down to specific inlets or bays and predict how organisms would react at a finer scale to increased farming, researchers said. Further studies are needed to determine the potential impact of more aquaculture activities on specific areas of the Sound, they added.

http://www.washington.edu/news/2015/10/21/gear-not-geoducks-impacts-ecosystem-if-farming-increases/

Kuterra aquaculture by ‘Namgis First Nation raises hope for wild salmon— and some hackles – National Observer

An update on the attempt to create a financially viable closed-containment aquaculture in BC. Ramifications for the Olympic Peninsula because of the push to bring open water net pens to the Straits and expand use in the Sound continues.

The ’Namgis First Nation, with advice and support from a large number of groups, including Tides Canada, conservation groups, and funding agencies, has launched Kuterra, a land-based, “closed-containment” aquaculture project that keeps their Atlantic salmon out of contact with the larger marine ecosystem.

http://www.nationalobserver.com/2015/07/23/news/kuterra-aquaculture-%E2%80%98namgis-first-nation-raises-hope-wild-salmon%E2%80%94-and-some-hackles

Scientific Study Shows Effects of Geoduck Farming on Beaches

In 2007, the Washington Legislature, at the prompting of environmental organizations such as People For Puget Sound, and the shellfish industry, funded a long term study of the effects on geoduck aquaculture on beaches. This highly politicized issue, due to the expansion of  long term geoduck farming on ever increasing locations in the South Sound in particular, was viewed as the best way to resolve the bitter disputes over the industry. Some environmentalists were hoping this would be a ‘smoking gun’ of the issues that the industry is having, while the industry assumed it would vindicate them. It appears that the results do not do either, but do point to concerns that need to be researched over a much longer period in time, and about the trade offs in expanding this industry while attempting to save eelgrass beds for salmon habitat. This is the first real long term study ever attempted here in Puget Sound. Fifteen scientists took part in the study over a six year period.

The short conclusion to the data was that it appeared that there was no immediate concern that geoduck farming is distinctly doing long term negative affects on the ecosystem. Concerns were raised over possible effects that were longer than the scope of this project, and recommendations for further research on these were stated.

There were six priorities to investigate, as mandated by the Legislature:

1. the effects of structures commonly used in the aquaculture industry to protect juvenile geoducks from predation;

2. the effects of commercial harvesting of geoducks from intertidal geoduck beds, focusing on current prevalent harvesting techniques, including a review of the recovery rates for benthic communities after harvest;

3. the extent to which geoducks in standard aquaculture tracts alter the ecological characteristics of overlying waters while the tracts are submerged, including impacts on species diversity and the abundance of other organisms;

4. baseline information regarding naturally existing parasites and diseases in wild and cultured geoducks, including whether and to what extent commercial intertidal geoduck aquaculture practices impact the baseline;

5. genetic interactions between cultured and wild geoducks, including measurement of differences between cultured and wild geoducks in term of genetics and reproductive status; and

6. the impact of the use of sterile triploid geoducks and whether triploid animals diminish the genetic interactions between wild and cultured geoducks.

Conclusions of the study indicated that the farms do impact eelgrass while the farms are in place, but that the grass recovers when they are removed.  But more research on the effects is needed they added. 

Effects of harvest on the benthic layer showed little negative impact, but there are a variety of other issues around this topic that need further study, such as spatial and temporal cumulative effects, the report added.

Effects of Nitrogen and Phosphorus accumulation was ‘mixed’ but did not show any kind of damning evidence that would be cause for immediate action. It appears that the beds do lead to a small increase in both these elements.

Disease issues included finding of several previously unreported parasites in geoducks. However, this data only creates a baseline for future studies. There was no conclusion as to the long term negative effects and whether the farms are contributing in any signficant way to the parasites presence.

Issues related to destruction of eelgrass beds showed that the long term effects seemed minimal, but the short term effects were significant. This raises the issue, given the efforts to recover and protect eelgrass beds, that there is a trade off on a yearly basis between salmon habitat and geoduck planting. There is no conclusion as to how significant this is. More research is needed on this topic, the report stated.

More research was recommended on cumulative effects longer time frames, water column effects, disease identification tools and prevalence in farmed populations, contribution of issues of reproductive effects on natural populations, and genetic effects on native stocks.

The entire report can be viewed at:

http://wsg.washington.edu/research/geoduck/

State Department of Natural Resources announces trial geoduck aquaculture lease initiative on state owned lands – DNR

It is not clear where these trial tracks are located. Expect followup when known.

STATE DNR ANNOUNCES TRIAL GEODUCK AQUACULTURE LEASE INITIATIVE ON STATE-OWNED AQUATIC LANDS

OLYMPIA – The Washington State Department of Natural Resources (DNR) announced today that it is initiating a small pilot program to allow geoduck aquaculture on a limited number of state-owned aquatic lands.

DNR anticipates entering into lease agreements with existing applicants once all environmental review and permitting processes are complete. This effort is a follow-up to commitments made by the agency in 2007. Numerous steps remain before active aquaculture would begin on public lands including potential site assessment; State Environmental Policy Act review; issuance of local government conditional use permits; U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Title 401 permitting; and Washington Department of Health Certification.

In 2007, the Legislature established a geoduck aquaculture research program under Washington Sea Grant and established a regulatory advisory committee with participation from government, Treaty Tribes, and citizen representatives to help guide related research. DNR plans to require monitoring at geoduck cultivation sites on state-owned aquatic land to provide further opportunity to study the effects of geoduck aquaculture on the aquatic environment.

http://www.dnr.wa.gov/BusinessPermits/News/Pages/2013_08_02_dnr_announces_trial_geoduck_aquaculture_leases_nr.aspx

Dr. Lawrence Dill Net Pen Presentation Now Online

If you are concerned about the latest proposals to bring net pen aquaculture to the Strait of Juan de Fuca (5 miles west of Port Angeles), or are concerned and unclear about the current standoff by the Department of Ecology and the Jefferson County Commissioners over allowing in water net pen aquaculture in Jefferson County (through the Shoreline Master Program updated), then you should take the time to listen to this lecture (it runs over an hour in total). It is, to be sure, one of the most comprehensive overviews of the possible negative impact of net pens I’ve ever heard, and is based on research done just north of us, in BC. While Dr. Dill clearly states that there are variations of environment between there and here, the issues are ones that we may face if they are allowed here. Then again, as pointed out in the Q&A session at the end, by the manager of one of the net pen companies south of Bainbridge Island, some of these issues have not shown up (though that comment was not based on peer review independent scientific research, but on experiential information. It was not independently verified and simply is presented as the point of view of the farm manager).

Dr.Dill is one of the foremost researchers on sea lice, and has a lot to say about the “possible” negative impacts of net pen aquaculture based on years of scientific, peer reviewed, published work. He was brought to lecture in Port Angeles last week, by a consortium of environmental groups concerned about the proposals for net pen aquaculture in Jefferson and Clallam counties lately. The event was sponsored by the Coastal Watershed Institute, Wild Salmon Center, Sierra Club Activist Network, and Olympic Peninsula Chapter Surfrider Foundation.

His talk was titled:
Evolutionary & Behavioral Ecology and Earth2Ocean Research Groups of Simon Fraser University, British Columbia, Canada presented:
POTENTIAL NEGATIVE ECOLOGICAL CONSEQUENCES OF OPEN NET PEN SALMON AQUACULTURE: LESSONS FROM BRITISH COLUMBIA

The discussion included:
• The impacts that salmon farms can have on wild salmon stocks
• Recent research on sea lice and other pathogens.
• How the iconic Fraser River sockeye salmon have been put at risk by salmon aquaculture.
• Degradation of the bottom communities below the farms.
• Pollution, by-catch of other fish species, escapes, and inadvertent or intentional reduction of marine mammal populations.
• New potential open pen aquaculture projects near Port Angeles.

The introduction by Anne did not have a microphone so it’s a bit noisy. Dr. Dill did have a microphone on, so it sounds better when you get to him speaking. The video was published in two parts. A shorter 10+ minutes to allow you to get the gist of the presentation, and the rest of the presentation in Part 2. The audio podcast is presented in it’s entirety.

You can view Part 1 of the lecture online at https://vimeo.com/47903851.

Part 2 is located at
https://vimeo.com/47906547

Or you can listen to it online at:

http://soundcloud.com/mountainstone/dr-lawrence-dill-netpens

I am adding the links above to the “Educational” links on the left hand side of the front page. You can always find it there if you need to refer to it later. Thanks to Dr. Dill for allowing the sponsoring groups to videotape the presentation, and offer it to those who were unable to make it to the discussion.

Dr. Larry Dill on Net Pens

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