Fisheries, Aquaculture, & Sustainable Seafood

Chile’s salmon aquaculture benefits from fallowing – and so too could trout farmers

In Chilean salmonid farmers’ worst nightmares, Piscirickettsia salmonis must be a regular feature. This bacterium causes Salmon Rickettsial Septicaemia (SRS), a highly infectious disease whose symptoms include haemorrhaging, lesions, ulcers, anorexia, and many cases death.

SRS is an epidemic in Chile, costing the salmon aquaculture industry over US $300 million each year. Vaccines have been largely ineffective and antibiotics have given mixed results. Mandatory three-month fallowing, on the other hand, seems to routinely reduce the chance of reinfection.

The underlying principle behind fallowing is fairly straightforward. Net-pen systems commonly used by finfish farmers allow pathogens to spread into the wider environment. Some are carried away by currents, some remain suspended in the water column or on the seafloor under and near the farm. In all cases, they wait for a new host to come close enough for reinfection. Fortunately for the fish, and the farmer, pathogens can’t survive forever without a host – which is where fallowing comes in. Take the hosts away and all the equipment out of the water for disinfection, and the odds of contagion rapidly drop…

 

This article was written for The Fish Site – please continue reading here.

Climate Change, Acidification, & the Oceans, Fisheries, Aquaculture, & Sustainable Seafood

Climate Change Impacts on Kenya’s Fishery-dependent communities

 We now have a number of scientific studies that tell us how climate change is altering coral reef ecosystems, but how will these changes impact on communities that depend on them for their livelihood?  According to Joshua Cinner of James Cook University in Australia and colleagues from around the world, that answer depends more on the  community capacity for adaptation than its location.

Fishery-dependent communities in Kenya are not in a great situation.  Their reefs were heavily affected by a massive bleaching event in 1998 that has been linked to an extreme El Niño event and have not necessarily recovered as well as we might hope, and Kenyan reefs are likely to face increasing amounts of climate-related stress into the future.  Across three years, Cinner and co surveyed 15 ecological sites associated with 10 coastal communities along the Kenyan coast.  Using a range of ecological indicators of vulnerability of these reefs, they linked up the ‘health’ of the ecosystems with the vulnerability of the human communities that depend on them. Continue reading “Climate Change Impacts on Kenya’s Fishery-dependent communities”

Conservation & Sustainable Management, Fisheries, Aquaculture, & Sustainable Seafood, What The Oceans Do For Us

Marine conservation and the human equation

People are as much a part of this planet as any other species.  We are ecosystem engineers, modifying and creating new environments to suit our needs.  We are incredibly adaptable, and our ability to make tools – both simple and technologically complex – has allowed us to prosper and rise above many of the restrictions that limit other species.  This doesn’t mean we can now act completely in isolation from the rest of the world.  Many of our activities have altered ecosystems in ways that mean they are less likely to meet our current and future needs.  Conservation efforts are attempting to remedy many of the problems we have created, but conservation isn’t just about nature – it’s about people too.

Nathan Bennett has been actively researching the links between the environment and human societies for many years.  His work takes a perspective that historically has often been forgotten in conservation management; what about humans.  This isn’t about developing opportunities of industry – it’s about conservation initiatives that look to sustain environment and communities together.  This week he has shared three of his papers on his blog – one from 2013 and two from this year.  Thanks to Nathan, all three are now open access…all three very much worth a read.  Here’s a brief overview of each paper to whet your appetite.

The trouble with marine protected areas
So here’s the deal.  We can find an area of the ocean that is becoming heavily degraded because of human activities.  To try to reduce the damage and allow recovery we can place a boundary around that area and place restrictions on the sorts of activities that take place inside.  But what of those people whose activities have been displaced?  We aren’t just talking about recreational fishers here.  In some circumstances, communities which are heavily dependent on the marine environment can be affected.  In this paper, Nathan and his colleague Phil Dearden surveyed coastal resource dependent communities living on the Andaman Coast of Thailand – an area which boasts 17 National Marine Parks.  The perspective of these people makes for grim reading.  They saw little benefit in the parks for their community, they felt that fishing and harvesting was negatively impacted by the parks, and they felt little incentive to support let alone participate in conservation efforts.  What needs to happen, writes Nathan and Phil, is for managers to start including socio-economic development considerations within protected area management planning.  This won’t just be better for the communities, but better for marine conservation.

It’s not just about how vulnerable you are, it’s what you can do to adapt
We’re back to the Andaman Coast of Thailand again, this time to consider their vulnerability and ability to adapt to climate change.  There are a whole host of different factors that can affect a community’s ability to adapt to climate change – and indeed any other sort of stressor.  Some of these are biophysical – climate change related impacts such as coral bleaching, or increasing number of storms, as well as environmental impacts such as marine pollution and overfishing.  Some of the factors are economic – like increasing costs of fuel, social – like increasing immigration, and some are related to governance, like corruption, policies, or illegal fishing.  Nathan and the team wanted to find out how communities felt about stressors.  They surveyed 237 households across 7 coastal communities to ascertain which of the 36 stressors identified in the region were considered having highest impact on the communities.  The results were a bit of a mixed bag, and despite the communities being just 10 km apart, differed between each community.  There were a few common factors though.  Many of the stressors were heavily intertwined.  Climate change impacts like more extreme storms and changes to rainfall were rated highly in the stress-rankings.  Economic factors – particularly rising costs – also came out as a major concern among all the communities.  Interestingly somewhat in contrast to the study above, marine protected areas were not really felt to be causing too much trouble.  What about overfishing?  Not a concern either… but then again the fish populations declined long ago, so overfishing isn’t really an immediate concern any more.  The thing about these sorts of stressors is that they aren’t really something that the community can deal with themselves.  They are part of wider regional and global problems.  From an adaptation perspective, this raises a number of issues.  There is not a ‘one adaptation plan to fit all’, but there are common factors that need to be looked at beyond the communities themselves.  Equally important, if we want to help communities to adapt, we cannot treat one stressor as separate from another.  A more integrated approach is vital for the success of any adaptation plan.

The eco-social economy:  How conservation can aid social and economic development
In this final paper the focus is turned to the Northwest Territories Canada and the Lutsel K’e Dene First Nation.  There have been plans afoot for their traditional territory…plans for a national park/protected area.  This is an old idea, and one that back in 1969 when the Government of Canada (Federal Government) tried to implement met with the opposition of the local people, who were successful in preventing the creation of a park.  In 2006, the First Nation and the Government of Canada signed a Memorandum of Understanding to look at implementing a park on those very same territories.  So what happened?  This new proposal has come from the local people themselves – a bottom up rather than top-down approach to conservation.  Through this collaborative process the park is taking an eco-social perspective to conservation.  Here, people aren’t just seen as the cause of degradation, but are seen as part of the ecosystem, impacted by the degradation.  The national park is not yet set up but is moving forward.  When it is, it is hoped that the park won’t just protect nature and the Lutsel K’e Dene First Nation culture, but work to meet social and economic development goals.

If you want to follow more of Nathan’s work head over to his blog http://nathanbennett.ca.  There is a follow option which will automatically update you of any new posts.  Now there’s some emails worth getting.

Image:  The Lutsel K’e Dene on  Great Slave Lake, Northwest Territories, Canada.  Credit:  Leslie Philipp/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

Climate Change, Acidification, & the Oceans

Pacific Islanders to face climate change challenges

Ahh the Pacific Islands…white sand, warm water, sun shining down….it sounds wonderful (especially for me – I’m having a ‘year of winter’ with my moving about).

But things are changing, and perhaps nothing is quite changing on a global scale quite like the climate.  If your a Pacific Islander, climate change is likely to be a huge problem.  It all comes down to reliance on local resources, and in many cases these resources come from local marine waters.  From a food perspective, Dr Johann Bell of the Secretariat of the Pacific Community and colleagues from around the globe predict things are going to change a fair bit….here’s some highlights from the paper: Continue reading “Pacific Islanders to face climate change challenges”

Fisheries, Aquaculture, & Sustainable Seafood

Move over beef production – aquaculture in the new kid on the block

Farmed fish and shellfish is becoming increasingly common in our supermarkets, but did you know that global aquaculture production has now overtaken beef production?

In this short article, Professor Kenny Black of the Scottish Association for Marine Science gives us an overview of the environmental impacts of this huge industry.  It’s not all doom and gloom though.  For example, he explores the role of genetically modified seeds to provide an alternative food-source for many aquaculture species that currently rely on dwindling wild-fish populations.

Ultimately, Black says, we will need aquaculture to feed our growing human population.  It has a lower carbon footprint than some of our intensively farmed beef, but the problem of feeding carnivorous fish like salmon from wild-caught fish may remain a substantial issue.  The solution?  Lets start eating sea cucumbers.

Image: Fish for sale at Gold City Supermarket.  Credit Wally Gobetz/Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)