Review of environmental impact assessment and monitoring in salmon aquaculture

Averil Wilson, Shona Magill, Kenny Black

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

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This report compiles and reviews environmental impact assessment (EIA) and
environmental monitoring procedures and practices in salmon cage aquaculture in Canada, Chile, Ireland, New Zealand, Norway, the United Kingdom and the United States of America.
The regulatory process for pre-development EIA in each of the 7 countries is
described. For existing farms, environmental monitoring regulations and practices are described and differences of approach noted. Weaknesses are highlighted and some suggestions for improvement are given.
All the countries studied have a regulatory system in place for a systematic study of the environmental costs and benefits of a proposed new salmon farm (EIA). The EIA system highlights potentially negative environmental impacts but socio-economic costs and benefits are generally not part of the EIA process. However, in some countries, e.g. Scotland, a brief socio-economic analysis is often included. A more rigorous and explicit approach to assessing socio-economic costs and benefits would be very helpful in allowing decision-makers to balance these against any environmental costs.All countries have regulations regarding the monitoring of existing salmon farms to ensure compliance with a variety of environmental standards. In most countries there is a perception that regulation does offer protection to the environment. However, in most cases farmers regard the regulatory process as relatively slow and bureaucratic. This is
particularly the case in the United States of America where responders to a questionnaire indicated that development was stifled by the complex regulatory regime. In Chile, while regulations and standards exist, there is a perception that regulatory authorities have insufficient resources to adequately monitor performance and police compliance. In all countries, but particularly in North America, greater dialogue between all stakeholders in a non-litigious arena would be highly beneficial, as there appears to

be considerable mistrust between the industry, the regulators and NGOs. Interchange of scientists and regulators between salmon growing countries and the willingness to learn from regulatory developments in other countries, must be strongly supported. All countries need to put greater effort into determining impacts at the waterbody rather than site scale. This requires modelling approaches backed up by long time-series measurements for validation and calibration
Improvements in technologies for preventing escapes and in regulation should follow the Norwegian example where escapes of farmed fish must be reported on a statutory basis, particularly in Atlantic areas. Sea lice are a threat to wild populations so compulsory delousing should be implemented in all jurisdictions (following Norway) and a robust framework of basin-scale cooperation between farmers and wild fish interests regarding synchronous stocking and treatment should be encouraged to minimize medicine use. There is a clear need for environmental data collected at farms to be placed in the public domain to increase confidence in the regulatory process.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publication FAO Fisheries and Aquaculture Technical Paper. No. 527.
Subtitle of host publication Environmental impact assessment and monitoring in aquaculture.
Place of PublicationRome
PublisherFood and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO)
Number of pages82
Publication statusPublished - 2009

Publication series

NameFAO Technical Paper


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