Monthly Archives: October 2013

NSFAS meet Nessa Childers MEP

Nessa Childers meeting 2.


NSFAS Chairman Paddy Keenan and PRO Damien O’Brien were back in Dublin today, this time to meet Nessa Childers MEP in the European Parliament office on Molesworth Street. Ms.Childers kindly agreed to meet with the NSFAS delegation to discuss the controversial proposals by the Irish government to develop the aquaculture industry around our coast despite overwhelming opposition. Various issues were discussed including the negative impact on existing employment levels in the angling tourism industry, which Inland Fisheries Ireland have recently stated supports up to 10,000 jobs with a value to the state of €750m. The negative impact to our environment and wild stocks as a result of increased industrialization of our pristine coastal environment was high on the agenda. We would like to thank Nessa for giving us the opportunity to meet with her today and look forward to working with her on this issue over the coming months.


Salmon farms rushing to slaughter 8,000 tonne of fish due to high lice levels

October 2, 2013, 9:19 am

Five Norwegian salmon producers are mass-slaughtering some 8,000 metric tons of salmon from their pens in an area north of Vikna, central Norway, due to high lice levels.

Three of those, Marine Harvest, Emilsen Fisk and Midt-Norsk Havbruk, are rushing to empty some 5,000 metric tons within deadlines set by the Norwegian food safety authority (NFSA).

In late August, the authority had informed these three producers that they would have to slaughter all their salmon in the area, after all other measures to counter the lice infestation failed.

Vikna, located in Ytre Namdal, in Nord Trondelag, is one of the busiest salmon farming regions in Norway.

The three producers had levels of five to six mature female lice per fish in the area affected — far above the national limit of 0.5/fish, said John Bjarne Falch, regional director of NFSA.

NFSA has ordered the producers to slaughter all their fish, or face a fine of approximately NOK 100,000 per day, for every day extending beyond the deadline, said Falch. One producer has to slaughter its fish by Oct. 3, another by Oct. 10 and the third by Oct. 23.

“It’s a question of capacity,” Falch told Undercurrent News. “The slaughterhouses are running at full steam, so the deadlines just reflect how fast they can empty their pens.”

Two other producers, Sinkaberg-Hansen and Salmonor, also operate in the same area. While these have not reached the national limit, they have come very close to it, and have decided to slaughter the fish of their own accord, said Falch.

This means some 8,000t are now being harvested from the area this month, he said. The fish affected are around 3.5-4kg in size, on average.

Need for bigger zone, better management

The farms in the area had started to show signs of resistance to traditional anti-lice measures. The producers had managed to deal with the situation so far, with best practices and biological means, but by the spring, it started becoming problematic, said Falch. The summer then intensified the situation, as sea lice reproduce faster in warmer waters.

Under Norwegian regulations, when a farm first exceeds its lice level limit, NFSA orders it to address the situation using all delousing methods available. Failing which, as in this case, the authority orders the affected pens to be emptied of all fish.

In Falch’s view, part of the problem in Vikna is that the farming zone designated for the area was too small. In Norway, salmon farming areas are divided into zones, in which farms must comply to certain rules on sizes and biomass, and must empty their pens and fallow at the same time.

This fallowing time is usually key in regulating sea lice, as they disappear when the fish are harvested, and are at their lowest levels when farming resumes. In this case, however, because the zone is small, the farms were getting infected immediately after fallowing from lice in neighboring zones, said Falch.

As a result, NFSA is working on expanding the zone in question. The area will also be ordered to fallow for the whole of February and March next year, he said.

Another issue, he said, is to do with how the farms are managed. “A bit further south, we have some farms, the same type of site, which have managed to keep the lice levels at 0.06 per fish — a tenth of what the regulation says.”

These sites do not have any other delousing methods than the ones north of Vikna, he said, showing the importance of good management. “If you use delousing products too early, for instance, you incur a higher risk of creating resistance among the fish.”

The Washington Post is Wrong About Farmed Salmon

Wed, Sep 25, 2013 by Justine Hausheer

Today the Washington Post ran an article in their Food section lauding advances in the salmon farming industry. Their message? Farmed salmon are a good choice.

We’re here to set the record straight: farmed salmon are not a sustainable seafood choice, and they’re not good for the oceans. If you want to be a responsible seafood eater, therefore, you should not eat farmed salmon.

When you eat farmed salmon, you’re really eating another fish called the jack mackerel, or any number of other wild fish being fed to salmon. Salmon are carnivores, and wild salmon hunt and eat other fish. To simulate a wild diet, farmed salmon are fed a stomach-turning mixture of fish meal (ground up fish) and fish oil, plus protein substitutes. To make their fish food, salmon farmers use smaller, little-known species like jack mackerel, sardines, and anchovies. The problem is that many of these species, especially jack mackerel, are dangerously overfished.

Even if the ratio of wild fish to farmed fish it 1 to 1, you are still eating a pound of jack mackerel or another wild species—which are likely in trouble—when you eat your farmed salmon. And because the ratio is really 3 to 1 for most of Chile, you are likely eating 3 pounds of jack mackerel or other fish when you and your friends and family dig in to your pound of farmed salmon.The jack mackerel fishery is in very bad shape, and a responsible eater can’t feel good about that choice. Buying three pounds of fish and then throwing two away later would be crazy, but salmon farming operates under the same logic.

It’s fair to say that salmon farming is better than it used to be, but it used to be horrendous. Even the best farms still pollute their waters with parasiticides, chemicals, and fish feces. The Chilean farmed salmon industry uses over 300,000 kilograms of antibiotics a year, causing bacterial resistances that affect fish, the environment, and human beings. In Chile, home to the article’s much lauded Verlasso fish farm, the majority of farms are located in pristine, deep-water fjords off of Patagonia, where even a minimal footprint could irreparably damage the ecosystem.

It’s not time to feel good about farmed salmon. Feeding one fish to another is inherently wasteful and inefficient, and the smart choice is to abandon salmon farming for something more sensible: making wild fish stocks more abundant by using science-based fishery management. The jack mackerel, anchovies, and sardines that we grind up and feed to farmed salmon worldwide are delicious fish, so why not eat them instead?

Oceana is working to implement science-based fishery management all over the world. As long as they’re managed properly, wild seafood can provide a healthy seafood meal a day for a billion people. Consumers can still eat healthy, wild fish, and our ocean waters can stay free of the chemicals, feces, and parasites that come with salmon farms. But this won’t happen if we keep on grinding our wild fish stocks up to turn them into faux, er farmed salmon (or to feed them to pigs and other livestock, but that’s another story).

We think that makes good sense, and we hope you agree.

And will someone please tell the Washington Post’s tasting panel to include jack mackerel, anchovies or sardines the next time when they do another taste test? After, all that’s what the tasters are actually eating. Plus they are delicious, and don’t have sea lice!