COAST Policy on Aquaculture
COAST supports aquaculture if it can be shown to be sustainable. We believe that shell fish farming such as mussel farming has far less impact than salmon farming and that land-based closed containment tanks are preferable to open cage fin fish farms at sea.
What are the problems with aquaculture?
Unsustainable aquaculture can devastate our seas and the environment and impact on local people's livelihoods, food and security. For example:
- The extraction of marine species from oceans, including wild juveniles vital for future stock growth, increasing the burden on wild fish stocks and having major food security implications;
- Fishmeal and so-called 'trash fish' used for feed production - often the main food for local people - taken for use in aquaculture. Plus the food miles that involves.
- The release of organic wastes (that, for instance, act as plant nutrients for harmful algal blooms) and toxic effluents into the oceans;
- The destruction of coastal ecosystems, displacement of other coastal stakeholders such as fishermen and tourism in coastal communities.
- Open Pen Salmon Aquaculture look like large industrial plants, devaluing scenic sea lochs, devaluing tourism potential for coastal communities.
Could aquaculture be sustainable?
The sustainability of a species depends on its feeding and lifecycle habits, as well as the farming operation. Only fin fish species that are plant eaters, who can breed in captivity, and whose farming does not produce high levels of nutrient output can be cultivated sustainably.
There are a number of conditions an aquaculture operation must adhere to in order to be sustainable. Among other things, an aquaculture operation can only be regarded as sustainable if it:
- Is continually moving towards plant-based feeds originating from sustainable agriculture;
- Does not use fishmeal or fish-oil-based feeds from unsustainable fisheries and does not represent a net loss in fish protein yield;
- Does not use wild-caught juveniles; Including Wrasse as cleaner fish
- Does not result in negative environmental impacts in terms of discharges and effluents to the surrounding areas;
- Moves to on land closed containment to contain discharges, chemicals, effluents.
- Does not have impacts of important Carbon Stores such as Maerl, Seagrass and Kelp.
- Does not result in negative effects to local wildlife (plants as well as animals) or represents a risk to local wild populations; Especially Wild Salmon and Sea trout;
- Does not use genetically engineered fish or feed;
- Uses stocking densities that minimise the risk of disease outbreaks and transmission;
- Does not affect established marine protection areas or the long term scientific monitoring of established areas such as No Take Zones (e.g. Lamlash NTZ) or MPA networks (e.g. South Arran MPA and Scottish MPA network);
- Does not threaten human health;
- Supports the long-term economic and social well-being of local communities in a sustainable way.