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.
Today marks the global launch of a short documentary exposé from the Pure Salmon Campaign about the damaging effects of salmon farms worldwide. “Farmed Salmon Exposed: The Global Reach of the Norwegian Salmon Farming Industry” reveals the environmental, socioeconomic and cultural effects of salmon aquaculture. The film includes appearances by Alex Muñoz and Dr. Matthias Gorny from Oceana in Chile, and Oceana board member Dr. Daniel Pauly.
Watch the film below and pass it on to your friends and family.
In a blow to the salmon aquaculture industry, on Tuesday Target announced it will stop selling farmed salmon in favor of more environmentally sustainable wild-caught salmon in its fresh, frozen and smoked seafood sections.
With its announcement, Target -- the second largest retailer in the country behind Wal-Mart -- raises the profile of the slew of problems associated with farming one of the most popular seafood species.
In case you need a refresher on why farmed salmon is so deleterious to the environment and potentially public health, check out this post I wrote back in 2008.
In the U.S. Oceana is working to protect wild Pacific salmon, and in Chile, we are working to reduce the use of antibiotics in the industry, reduce salmon escapes and establish a marine protected area in Patagonia to defend its pristine ecosystems from the industry's southern push.
Oceana's VP for South America, Alex Muñoz, and board member Dr. Daniel Pauly both contributed to a new documentary about the damages caused by the farmed salmon industry in the cold waters of Norway, Chile and British Columbia. Oceana has been working to forestall the expansion of Chile's troubled aquaculture industry into Patagonia as well as clean up the industry already built in other areas along Chile's coast.
Check out the trailer for "Farmed Salmon Exposed" below: