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ผู้เขียน หัวข้อ: Marine Harvest to phase out Chile lake farms  (อ่าน 2068 ครั้ง)
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« เมื่อ: มิถุนายน 21, 2007, 11:02:58 AM »

Source: Patagonia Times                           World News    21/06/2007 07:53:50
 
 Marine Harvest to phase out Chile lake farms


Benjamin Witte   

 

The world’s largest aquaculture company, Norway-based Marine Harvest, announced this week it plans to eventually replace all of its Chilean lake-based smolt centers with more environmentally friendly, land-based facilities.

 

The announcement coincided with a related report published Tuesday by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF).

 

Entitled “Salmon Farming in the Lakes of Southern Chile – Valdividan Ecoregion,” the WWF study noted that while Chile’s booming farmed fish industry certainly translates into jobs (approximately 45,000) and record profits, the business is also taking a tremendous toll on southern Chile’s lakes, specifically those in Region IX, on the Island of Chiloé and in Region XI.

 

For the past three decades, salmon farmers have used southern Chile’s lakes to produce smolt (large juvenile fish). In the past decade alone, smolt production in those lakes has doubled, resulting in a corresponding surge in associated environmental problems, according to the WWF.

 

Chief among those problems is organic pollution – namely fish feces and unconsumed feed, which accumulate under the salmon farms creating oxygen-free “dead zones.”

 

“As a result of this constant and increasing pressure,” the WWF report reads, “severe effects to some lakes, particularly those on Chiloé Island have been noted, while the true environmental state of others (e.g., the Araucano lakes) has not yet been measured. To date, according to official data from the 2003-5 period, 20 percent of concessions used show a state of anoxia (absence of oxygen, which indicates severe degradation) in the sediments below salmon farms.”

 

The fish farms also place tremendous pressure on native fish species, 93 percent of which are endangered. The smolt – concentrated in pens by the millions – attract diseases that can then spread to wild fish. Farmed salmon also escape from their pens (how many do is a subject of much debate) and, as a predator species, run rampant on smaller, native fish.

 

“Over the last 25 years, salmon farming has contributed significantly to wild salmonid populations through massive losses of individuals from farms in freshwater systems where the first stages of development (from ova to smolts) are carried out,” the report states.

 

Contributing to these problems is a general lack of government oversight. In 1991 Chile implemented its Environmental Impact Evaluation System to regulate the growing salmon industry. Concessions for many of southern Chile’s lake-based farms, however, predate the system. “Thus critical aspects such as maximum production levels are not regulated,” according to the WWF.

 

“These lakes are a global treasure and pollution from salmon farming is completely avoidable,” said WWF Chile representative David Tecklin. “Chile has become the world’s second largest producers of farmed salmon, but the industry must rapidly improve its environmental practices if it expects to survive in the global marketplace.”

 

While government authorities should certainly take a more active role in regulating the industry, individual companies, Tecklin explained, could also improve conditions in Chile’s lakes by turning to what’s called closed-containment recirculation systems. The state-of-the-art technology – already used extensively in Norway, Scotland and Canada – takes smolt production out of lakes and places it on land, where the young fish are raised in closed tanks.

 

“These closed systems minimize environmental impacts such as escapes and nutrient input (pollution) from uneaten food and excrement,” the report reads.

 

The WWF insists that a relatively small number of these closed systems could replace all current lake production – at a cost of approximately US$45 million. While that may sound like a significant amount of money, the figure – the WWF points out – represents just 2 percent of the industry’s overall annual earnings: US$2.2. billion in 2006.

 

Marine Harvest, at least, appears ready to heed that call, something organizations like the Santiago-based Terram Foundation are classifying as a positive sign.

 

“For Chilean salmon production, this decision is a substantial advance in the direction of standards that are used in developed countries like Norway or Canada. It’s a very important first step for protecting southern Chile’s lake ecosystems,” said Terram’s Giuliana Furci.

 

“We’ve been waiting a long time for this type of move. Those who want the salmon industry to improve its environmental practices are confident that all the companies will follow Marine Harvest’s example.”


Source or related URL: http://www.patagoniatimes.cl
 
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