Salmon Farming or Virus Farming?

The more scientists look at the environmental impact of salmon farming, the more grim their assessment. Now it seems that only massive amounts of antibiotics can control the spread of viruses that infest salmon farms, even in remote regions like the Chilean coast. Add this to the general inefficiency of salmon production — 7 to 11 pounds of fresh fish are required to produce 2 pounds of farmed salmon — and you get a recipe for environmental abuse.
As Pascale Bonnefoy writes in The New York Times, the companies running these huge salmon farms have an easy answer to the local disasters their aquaculture causes: they simply abandon the contaminated areas and move on. “Since discovering the virus in Chile last July, Marine Harvest has closed 14 of its 60 centers and announced it would lay off 1,200 workers, or one-quarter of its Chilean operation. Since the company announced last month that it would move south, to Aysén, the government has said the virus has spread there as well, in two outbreaks not involving Marine Harvest.” (Thanks to readers Bill Klyn and Kyle Moppert for this link.)

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  • jdubya

    Umm, antibiotics don’t do shit for viruses. The antibiotics are to control the bacteria (usually vibrio species) that infect penned fish. And they also use anti-fungals to fight fungus and other parasites, but for the viruses, they have no treatment except death. If that is a treatment…..

  • Ricky Ricardo Hirsch

    I have just received a 108 page report by UBS (huge Swiss bank) on salmon farming. The bank has decided “to cover” 6 companies in the biz, so that means the report is probably fairly pro-farming. I haven’t read it all yet. There are lots of charts, graphs & descriptions of each company. I suspect this is a great reference/overview of the industry. Feel free to send me your email if you want a copy. Don’t get depressed, get active!

  • Vin Gannon

    This is what an abalone virus that escaped from an abalone aquaculture farm in Australia did to the wild abalone industry and resource.
    The virus which has never been seen in Australia before is now killing 60 to 95 % of the abalone in the wild, and we don’t know yet if it will return.
    Governments allowed the virus to escape, and now standby saying they can do nothing, now it is in the wild.