Strict monitoring shows minimal impact
Since 2009 the Broadscale Environmental Monitoring Program (BEMP) has monitored a wide variety of parameters related to both water and seafloor health. While sediment sampling occurs yearly, water samples are taken monthly or fortnightly depending on season.
The BEMP is conducted under the auspices of the Environment Protection Authority (EPA) and reviewed by the Institute of Marine and Antarctic Studies (IMAS), and has found no evidence of environmental damage caused by the aquaculture industry.
Leases are regularly fallowed to ensure a healthy and sustainable seafloor underneath pens.
Culture of Care and Collaboration
The aquaculture industry has a culture of continuous improvement in all aspects of its operation, including our environmental impact. Around $500 million has been spent by the industry on pens which minimise risks to wildlife, as well as stock and workers. Innovative net cleaning techniques reduce environmental impact of net maintenance, as well as reducing disease risk in our fish.
We also form collaborations with government, community, and Natural Resource Managers through organisations such as The D’Entrecasteaux and Huon Collaboration, which give us the opportunity to contribute to, and gain valuable feedback about, our relationship to the environment in which we farm.
In areas we have farms, we conduct regular waterway clean-ups. While the majority of the waste we collect is not from our activities, these clean-ups give us the opportunity to monitor what debris is escaping from our farms, and improve our processes to reduce those occurrences.
Ross, D. J. and Macleod, C. K. (2013). Evaluation of Broadscale Environmental Monitoring Program (BEMP) data from 2009-2012. IMAS Technical Report 140pp. Accessible at https://dpipwe.tas.gov.au/Documents/Ross---Macleod-BEMP-Data-Review-2009-2012-.pdf
Broadscale Environmental Monitoring Program – D’Entrecasteaux Channel andHuon Marine Farming Development Plan Sites – Annual Report 2017/2018, July 2018, Report to TSGA, 87 pp. Accessible at https://epa.tas.gov.au/Documents/Huon_BEMP_Annual_Report_2017-18.pdf
Excellent Environmental Credentials
Farmed salmon has the lowest carbon footprint in animal protein agriculture, 4 times more efficient than chicken, and 34 times more efficient than beef! Salmon takes less feed to make 1kg of food than any competing protein: 1.2-1.5 kg, compared to 1.7-2 kg for chicken and 6-10 kg for beef.
It’s not just a very low carbon footprint that gives aquaculture its environmental credentials. Since the mid-1990s, the world’s wild fish catch has stagnated and even diminished a little. Overfishing has increased, so even this level of harvest is not sustainable. It is suggested by the UN and the World Bank that to return to sustainable wild fisheries we need to reduce the world fishing effort by 50%, to allow those fisheries to rebuild.
The salmon industry contributes to this plan by supplying an “affordable, nutritious, and efficient source of animal protein”* (also delicious) to the world’s dinner tables, and by continuing to reduce the already low percentage of wild-caught ingredients in fish feed. The Tasmanian salmon industry is a recognised global leader in innovation in fish feed, in part due to collaborations such as IMAS’s Experimental Aquaculture Facility.
* Waite, R. et al. 2014. “Improving Productivity and Environmental Performance of Aquaculture.” Working Paper, Installment 5 of Creating a Sustainable Food Future. Washington, DC: World Resources Institute. Accessible at https://www.wri.org/publication/improving-aquaculture
Atlantic Salmon (Salmo salar): The “Super-Chicken” of the Sea? http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/10641262.2011.597890
Fishery Statistical Collections Global Aquaculture Production http://www.fao.org/fishery/statistics/global-aquaculture-production/en