Conservation groups encouraged by efforts to address salmon farming impacts and see closed containment as best way to meet a standard
VANCOUVER — The first draft of global standards intended to measure and identify environmentally and socially responsible salmon farming was released today for a 60-day public comment period.
Developed through the Salmon Aquaculture Dialogues (SAD), the standards aim to make salmon aquaculture operations around the world more sustainable by establishing a set of science-based, measurable guidelines, and incentivizing compliance through third-party eco-certification. The current draft standards represent the collective efforts of dozens of independent scientists, conservation groups, industry representatives and other stakeholders who have worked with the SAD steering committee over the last several years.
The Coastal Alliance for Aquaculture Reform (CAAR) has been an active participant in the multi-year investigation into the impacts of salmon farming on the environment and wild salmon in particular. However, there are still many unresolved issues and not all parts of the draft represent consensus agreement among members of the steering committee. While the coalition applauds the effort of many in the aquaculture industry to address the ecological and social impacts of salmon farming, many of the standards aimed at reducing or eliminating these issues have yet to be resolved in the document.
"A lot of information has been gathered and hard work done to identify both the problems associated with salmon aquaculture and the ways to measure the best ecological and social operations," said Jay Ritchlin, director of marine and freshwater conservation at the David Suzuki Foundation and SAD steering committee representative for CAAR.
"We're encouraging stakeholders to review and provide feedback on these draft standards, especially where uncertainties remain, to ensure they are of the highest possible quality, and offer the greatest opportunity for safeguarding our oceans."
Nearly all of the issues around the ecological and social sustainability of salmon farming can be addressed through the use of closed containment technology. This technology, which is already providing product to retail outlets, is the most economically, socially and environmentally sustainable way of ensuring that salmon farming does not endanger wild salmon in British Columbia.
The standards themselves are meant to be "technology neutral" and do not mandate any one technology. Closed containment, however, does address the key ecological issues in the draft standards and also solves many of the unresolved problems that otherwise will require extensive monitoring and science to measure. Given the serious risks to wild salmon from open net cage salmon farming, the final resolution on how to measure key environmental impacts and on what levels of impact are deemed to pass the standard will determine CAAR's support for the outcome of the standards process.
CAAR urges anyone concerned about salmon farming to review the standards document and submit comments that support meaningful and effective salmon aquaculture standards. CAARs own submission to the public comment period will be available on its website later this month.
Convened by the World Wildlife Fund-USA, the Salmon Aquaculture Dialogues began in 2004 and involved the efforts of a nine-member steering committee that includes five industry members (Marine Harvest, Skretting, Salmon Chile, the Canadian Aquaculture Industry Alliance, and the Norwegian Seafood Federation) and four NGOs (CAAR, Fundacion Terram, Pew Environment Group and WWF-US). Additional stakeholders provided feedback during 13 dialogue meetings held around the globe.
The process has produced a set of draft standards along with seven technical papers that summarize the state of science around feed, social impacts, disease, sea lice, chemical use, pollution and benthic impacts.
For more information, please visit Farmed and Dangerous.
Communications Specialist, David Suzuki Foundation
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