Rules about aqua­cul­ture waste too lax

The Compass - - EDITORIAL - Bill Bry­den writes from Lums­den

Dear Ed­i­tor,

I write re­gard­ing En­vi­ron­men­tal As­sess­ment project 1874. A new open-net pen aqua­cul­ture ren­der­ing plant is be­ing pro­posed in Har­bour Bre­ton to han­dle the dis­eased and dead fish and pro­cess­ing waste that will come from an ex­panded open-net pen aqua­cul­ture in­dus­try that dis­guises it­self as fish “pro­duc­tion” (it is re­ally fish re­duc­tion, but that is an­other story).

All current and fu­ture aqua­cul­ture waste pro­cess­ing in Canada should be re­quired to re­move the per­sis­tent or­ganic pol­lu­tants (POPs) that bind at rates four to 11 times higher in fish fat than in ter­res­trial an­i­mal fat. This re­moval of these dan­ger­ous tox­ins is now com­mon prac­tice in Nor­way and in­cludes all the ma­jor play­ers, such as Marine Har­vest, that re­cy­cle aqua­cul­ture fish trim­mings and co­pi­ous dead dis­eased fish. While the list of POPs re­moved can and should be ex­panded on by the aqua­cul­ture feed pel­let, fish­meal and fish oil com­pa­nies glob­ally, Canada should be re­quir­ing at least the min­i­mum that oth­ers are do­ing.

In­stead, Canada has ig­nored reg­u­lat­ing many POPs, and of the few we do reg­u­late, like PCBs, gov­ern­ment has con­tin­u­ally in­creased the al­low­able lev­els of these POPs to in­sane lev­els in aqua­cul­ture­made fish and ren­der­ings. For ex­am­ple, the Canadian Food In­spec­tion Agency al­lows the ren­der­ing of aqua­cul­ture fish that con­cen­trates PCBs at one mil­lion times higher than al­lowed in, say, pork. These re­cy­cled ren­der­ings are most of­ten re-fed to the fish, leav­ing the tox­ins in our food chain, de­spite the fact that the tech­nol­ogy to re­move them has ex­isted for many years.

The in­sane prof­its these open­net pen com­pa­nies run off with are at our ex­pense and due to our ig­no­rance and gov­ern­ment in­ac­tion and, more im­por­tantly, co-in­vest­ment.

The gen­eral pub­lic has no clue that the fatty aqua­cul­ture fish, namely trout and salmon, dra­mat­i­cally ac­cu­mu­late tox­ins in their fat, nor how in­dus­try is al­lowed to com­post and dump these tox­ins on our fields, or silage/ren­der/dry the aqua­cul­ture waste and refeed the tox­ins to the open-net pen aqua­cul­ture salmon and trout.

The ac­cu­mu­la­tion and then re­cy­cling of these POPs, like PCBs, dioxin, etc., in the aqua­cul­ture in­dus­try is the crit­i­cal bot­tle­neck in our food sec­tor where we have an op­por­tu­nity to re­move POPs. The small added ex­pense and ex­tra equip­ment that would be re­quired in our waste-pro­cess­ing plants to re­move the POPs must be de­manded by gov­ern­ment and the pub­lic made aware of why it is nec­es­sary.

The in­sane prof­its these open­net pen com­pa­nies run off with are at our ex­pense and due to our ig­no­rance and gov­ern­ment in­ac­tion and, more im­por­tantly, co-in­vest­ment. I would in­vite in­ves­tiga­tive jour­nal­ists to get in­volved in this is­sue as, af­ter all, they eat here, too. The ma­tur­ing of the so­cial and eth­i­cal re­spon­si­bil­i­ties of this in­dus­try is only go­ing to hap­pen if we make it hap­pen.

Happy new im­proved year.

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