International report emphasizes need for urgent change in aquaculture industry

    VANCOUVER, Jan. 28 /CNW Telbec/ - The global aquaculture, or fish
farming, industry is not a solution to overfishing and must dramatically
change in order to become sustainable, says a new Greenpeace report.
    Challenging the Aquaculture Industry on Sustainability, which was
presented to the 2008 Seafood Summit in Barcelona today, documents how fish
farming is damaging marine and freshwater ecosystems by destroying coasts to
make way for ponds, polluting water with fecal waste and depleting wild fish
caught for feed and farm stock.
    "Many of the most serious environmental impacts of aquaculture are
happening here in Canadian waters, and it's time the Canadian government
ensured the industry takes responsibility for the damage being caused," said
Sarah King, oceans campaigner at Greenpeace Canada. "With continued reports of
lice from farmed fish infecting wild B.C. salmon, and pollution plaguing bays
and inlets on our East Coast, it's clear we're nowhere near farming fish in a
sustainable way."
    Aquaculture, one of the fastest growing sectors of the food industry,
already provides nearly half of all fish consumed by people. As wild fish
stocks continue to decline, the demand for farmed shrimp, salmon, tuna,
tilapia and other finfish has risen. However, cheap, abundant seafood has come
at a price. The report, which was prepared by the Greenpeace research lab at
the University of Exeter, gives an overview of some of the harmful
environmental and social impacts aquaculture. These include destruction of
habitat, the effects of escaped farm fish on wild species, depletion of wild
stock caught for feed, disruption to the natural food chain, and the threat to
food security.
    Human rights abuses, which are often forgotten in the aquaculture debate,
plague shrimp farming with reports finding abuses in 11 countries. In
Bangladesh alone about 150 murders linked to aquaculture have been reported.
    The report highlights the devastating impacts nutrient pollution from
fecal matter and wasted feed has on whole ecosystems. A salmon farm of
200,000 fish releases roughly the same amount of fecal matter as the untreated
sewage of 65,000 people. Many salmon farms in the Pacific Northwest have four
to five times that number of fish. Because few species can survive the
oxygen-deprived environment created by waste feed and feces, biodiversity in
such areas has decreased. Research near finfish farms in the Bay of Fundy,
Canada found that diversity decreased significantly up to 200 meters away from
the cages after five years of operation.
    To address these problems, the report offers specific recommendations for
the industry to move towards sustainability and calls on retailers to buy only
from sustainable aquaculture operations.
    "Retailers also have a role to play by refusing to support destructive
fishing practices including unsustainable aquaculture. By removing these fish
from their shelves, they can be part of the solution and help clean up the
problem," said King.
    Greenpeace believes that aquaculture and industrial fisheries can only be
sustainable if a truly ecosystem-based management approach is adopted, within
a global network of fully protected marine reserves that incorporate
40 per cent of the oceans.

    The report can be obtained at

For further information:

For further information: Jane Story, Greenpeace Canada communications
officer, (416) 930-9055; Sarah King, Greenpeace Canada oceans campaigner,
(778) 227-6458

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