Marine Environmental Research Institute (MERI) Lecture to Discuss Salmon Aquaculture Threats
After a two-year investigation that linked massive lobster kills near Cooke Aquaculture salmon farms to the company’s illegal use of the pesticide cypermethrin, Environment Canada brought 33 charges against company executives that could result in millions of dollars in fines and several years in prison. Cypermethrin, a neurotoxin that is lethal to fish and shellfish, is approved for use in Maine’s salmon farms for treating parasitic sea lice.
Inka Milewski, marine biologist and science advisor to the Conservation Council of New Brunswick is the featured speaker at the 2012 Ocean Environment Lecture Series: Rachel Carson Lectures, hosted by the Marine Environmental Research Institute (MERI) on Thursday, March 8 in Blue Hill. Milewski will discuss the issues that plague large-scale aquaculture enterprises, most notably their use of toxic pesticides and antibiotics, pollution that turns seabeds into virtual “dead zones” where nothing can live, and the threat of spreading diseases to wild ocean species. Milewski’s lecture, ‘Dirty Bottoms: The Industrialization of Aquaculture,’ begins at 7 p.m. and is preceded by a reception at 6 p.m. All lectures are free and open to the public.
“Salmon farms operate like industrial feedlots in coastal waters,” says Milewski. “They generate large quantities of wastes and the cost of waste disposal is paid by the environment and not the industry.” Milewski has spent more than a decade investigating and reporting on the ecological impacts of aquaculture in the Bay of Fundy. She has published multiple scientific papers and articles and has testified several times before Canadian authorities. According to Milewski, a study by scientists at Canada’s Department of Fisheries and Oceans found that fish farms in New Brunswick’s L’Etang estuary alone released almost 50 times more waste than a sewage plant servicing a community of 1,200.
Earlier this month, a possible outbreak of infectious salmon anemia (ISA) was reported at a Cooke salmon farm in Nova Scotia. Two cages of farmed salmon, equal to thousands of fish, were destroyed as a pre-emptive measure. The facility is now under quarantine. ISA is an incurable and destructive virus that affects both wild and farmed salmon and could kill up to 90 percent of infected fish. Of immediate concern is that the virus could show up in already depressed wild salmon stocks along the eastern Canada coast.
Milewski, a proponent of stricter regulation of the industry, proposes a radical solution to industrialized fish farming: transition them from sea to land. Says Milewski,“Since there is nothing natural about fish being trapped in netpens, fed food pellets laced with chemicals or being bathed in pesticides, it’s time to move these operations out of public waters and stop the salmon industry’s ecological and economic free-ride.”
MERI’s 2012 lectures celebrate the life of Rachel Carson, marine biologist, author and conservationist whose 1962 book Silent Spring galvanized public response to the dangers of pesticides and launched the global environmental movement. The 2012 Rachel Carson Lectures are sponsored in partnership with Cornerstones of Science, the national science literacy initiative based in Brunswick, Maine.
The Marine Environmental Research Institute, located at 55 Main Street in Blue Hill, is a nonprofit organization dedicated to protecting the marine environment and human health through scientific research and education. For more information, please call 207-374-2135, send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit MERI online at www.meriresearch.org.