chilean salmon aquaculture
I’m back stateside after a month working in our Santiago office and visiting Chilean Patagonia, and I wanted to give a quick wrap-up and tell you a little more about Oceana’s role in the region and what we can expect in the coming months.
Last week I wrote about my encounters with some of the most beautiful wilderness I’ve ever seen, as well as two salmon farms, Caleta Delano and Bahia Perales, the latter of which was recently found to have been infected with Infectious Salmon Anemia (ISA), the disease that paralyzed the industry in 2007.
But let me back up -- what’s so bad about farming salmon? Here’s a bit of background on the environmental problems associated with salmon aquaculture in Chile:
Pollution: Fish waste and excess feed can cause rapid algae growth that pollutes the water surrounding aquaculture pens, and in some cases, creates an oxygen-deprived dead zone. A salmon farm of 200,000 fish releases roughly the amount of fecal matter equivalent to the untreated sewage of a city with 65,000 people. The waste collects under net pens, polluting the seafloor and surrounding waters.
Overcrowding: The high densities of fish in net pens used by fish farms lead to disease outbreaks and a higher prevalence of diseases, such as ISA.
Antibiotics: As a result of the disease outbreaks, the fish are treated with antibiotics, reducing the effectiveness of the same drugs for human diseases.