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Myth #3: Aquaculture farms cause pollution

Just like any form of food production, whether plant[1] or animal[2], Aquaculture has environmental impacts. How are these impacts monitored and assessed?

In salmon farming, the seafloor (benthos) beneath the net pen is monitored for potential benthic impacts caused by feces, unconsumed feed or pollutants. Regulations vary by country, but typically there are two methods for assessment: sediment samples and video footage of the flora and fauna. Sediment samples are taken from the sea floor at the edge of the net pen and at the edge of the ‘Allowable Zone of Effects’. These samples are compared to reference sample locations to ensure that biodiversity is maintained.

The GLOBALG.A.P. Aquaculture Standard provides additional assurance that salmon farms minimize environmental impacts through environmental impact assessments which assist in proper siting of farms and net pens, responsible use of feed, and control of any substances which can contribute to pollution of the water of the seafloor. 

 

[1] Our oceans are threatened by a phenomenon called hypoxia; a lack of oxygen in the water which leads to ‘dead zones’ incapable of supporting aquatic life. The largest ‘dead zone’ in the world is in the Gulf of Mexico and is caused by excess nitrogen and phosphorous from fertilizer used by farms for crops (NOAA). The Baltic Sea is home to 7 of the world’s largest ‘dead zones’ (National Geographic).

[2] The EU had over 23.5 million dairy cows in 2016 (AHDB Dairy). Each dairy cow produces roughly 52 kg of manure per day. This has created a need for a massive manure management system to attempt to minimize negative impacts.