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Local Solutions to Global Issues: Barramundi & Salmon Sustainable Fisheries - Noyna Roy

This series of articles is dedicated to identifying local solutions and efforts that take place on a small scale and can help solve global issues. I will be researching different ideas and innovations every 2 weeks. Please feel free to send us an email (angelanoynarhea@gmail.com) if you have any suggestions that have been carried out in your hometown that you would like me to research and share. We already have the knowledge, it is all about increasing our education and raising awareness! Check out the previous article in this series about Coir Bhoovastra.

World Economic Forum video via: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=og8N-EslUPQ

More than 3 billion people depend on seafood as a primary source of protein, and the commercial fishing industry contributes around $360 billion to the global economy. Overfishing is the depletion of global fish stocks due to excessive fishing. The fish stocks cannot reproduce and mature sufficiently, threatening the population numbers of many species. This creates an imbalance in marine food webs; removing one species has a knock-on effect on the other trophic levels and exacerbates environmental degradation. The marine ecosystem is on the verge of collapse. While we cannot reduce the demand for seafood, we can establish marine protected areas, and invest in aquaculture and sustainable fisheries to address Mother Earth’s diminishing spirit.

Fishing image via: https://unsplash.com/photos/yreiA2E6_a0

Sustainable Fishing

Fishing is the extraction of existing populations, whereas aquaculture is the breeding and harvesting of specific aquatic animals. Every year, around 77 billion kilograms of wildlife are cultivated from the marine ecosystem for seafood (e.g. fish for food) and for economic gains (e.g. oysters for pearls).

In the 1990s, the campaign for “sustainable fishing” was established to protect the existing fish stocks. A sustainable fishery must meet three standards:

1. Fishing below the maximum sustainable yield (overexploitation of fish stocks leads to reduced diversity, resilience and detrimental fluctuations in population), which will allow the fish levels to remain healthy and productive.

2. The fishing process must have a minimal impact on the environment. (Some fishing gear, such as dredging and bottom trawling, disturbs the seafloor habitat).

3. The fishery should have a certified management structure. (Usually certified by the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC)).

Smaller-scale fishermen can adopt and revive less destructive, traditional methods such as stilt fishing, spear-fishing and cast net fishing. By targeting specific fish species, sustainable fishing protects endangered species and avoids unnecessary waste (the excess fish are converted into fishmeal). The MSC works with local, national and regional communities to encourage companies and governments to purchase from environmentally-responsible fisheries. These sustainable options reduce pollution, limit waste and generate jobs, making this process beneficial to the economy and environment.

Spearfishing image via: https://unsplash.com/photos/0cCGQd1K5AM

Singapore and Norway invested in sustainable fisheries and aquaculture methods at two very different scales. Singapore produces the local preference, barramundi (Lates calcarifer), and Norway produces every sashimi fan’s favourite, salmon (Salmo salar).

“Reliable, Sustainable, Responsible”

Singapore imports over 90% of all food consumed by its residents, establishing a high dependence on other nations and a formidable carbon footprint. To bridge the gap and encourage local production, the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority’s (AVA) Agriculture Productivity Fund invested in a private limited company, Barramundi Asia. Occupying 7.5 hectares, the sea cage farms and eight 50m3 farms produce around 6000 tonnes annually, contributing to 9% of all fish consumed in Singapore. The “Recirculating Aquaculture System” treats and recycles the water in the tanks, and the “semi-automated fish grading” machine sorts the fish according to size. The investment in technology increases efficiency and reduces the cost of production, making the fish more affordable while decreasing waste. The fish are cultivated in conditions similar to the natural habitat and the water temperature and pH are tested every 10 minutes (yes!) to ensure quality. Barramundi Asia has the Good Aquaculture Practices for Fish Farming (GAP-FF) certification as they are hormone and antibiotic-free.

Barramundi Asia image via: https://www.sfa.gov.sg/food-for-thought/article/detail/our-local-farmers-series-ian-chen-barramundi-asia

In collaboration, with the German company Siemens, a new smart farm is set to open in 2020. Equipped with video surveillance, artificial intelligence will detect and predict the health and growth rates of the fish. The farm has a closed-loop system that recycles and prevents water waste and runoff and 50% of operations are solar-powered. This high-tech fish farm, that sounds too good to be true, is a highly productive technocentric solution, but it comes with a large price tag. By 2021, the company hopes to produce an additional 350 tonnes of fish annually, increasing the supply to 9.5% of the national demand.

Barramundi Asia as a sustainable fishery, meeting all three standards, by integrating technology and the limited resources, they produce high-quality fish at a large scale. This sustainable solution, backed by the government demonstrates the potential we have to produce fish for human consumption without drastically impacting other marine life.

Slippery Salmon

With over 51,000 miles of coastline dedicated to the farming of salmon, Norway is one of the largest exporters and contributors to the salmon market. To maintain high-quality standards, the government has extremely strict regulations. Salmon can only make up 2.5% of the aquaculture’s tank space and are fed an all-natural, raw vegetable diet through auto-feeding technology that prevents overfeeding and excess waste. Producing over 1.3 million tonnes of salmon annually, Norway is an expert in this field and has ambitions to increase production to around 5 million tonnes by 2050.

Norwegian salmon farms via: https://www.intrafish.com/aquaculture/from-the-archive-december-2018-norwegian-salmon-farming-costs-jumped-5-in-2017/2-1-504230

Unfortunately, climate change is a significant threat to the industry as salmon thrive in waters of 14˚C. Rising water temperatures will increase salmon mortality by causing lice infestations, harmful algal blooms, and decreasing dissolved oxygen levels. As a result, aquaculturists are identifying alternative farm locations and investing in selective breeding programs to cultivate stronger fish that will thrive in a rapidly changing environment.

A Peek into the Future

The overexploitation of our marine habitats will only cause ecosystem imbalances and immense destruction to our terrestrial habitats and the health of the planet. This is a peek into the future of fish production that is sustainable and equitable, benefiting the economy, society and environment. Singapore and Norway are two such examples that use technology to produce at different scales. As a consumer, you can commit to purchasing from marine certified suppliers.

One solution to many issues, this is sustainable fishing, the future of our food production.

Works Cited:

Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority of Singapore. "Our Local Farmers Series: Ian Chen, Barramundi Asia." Food for Thought, 27 Feb. 2020, www.sfa.gov.sg/food-for-thought/article/detail/our-local-farmers-series-ian-chen-barramundi-asia.

---. "Singapore’s Modern Farms Series: Barramundi Asia." Food for Thought, 27 Feb. 2020, www.sfa.gov.sg/food-for-thought/article/detail/singapore-s-modern-farms-series-barramundi-asia.

Barramundi Asia. Barramundi Asia | Reliable, Sustainable, Responsible, barramundi.asia/.

Brooks, Geoff. Pole fishermen are still seen occasionally around the Sri Lankan coastline. Photograph. Unsplash, 26 Aug. 2019, unsplash.com/photos/0cCGQd1K5AM.

The Fish Site. "Singapore Opens "smart" Barramundi Farm." The Fish Site | Your Seafood Knowledge Hub, 18 Feb. 2020, thefishsite.com/articles/singapore-opens-smart-barramundi-farm.

---. "Adaptation to Climate Change: Lessons from Norwegian Salmon Aquaculture." The Fish Site | Your Seafood Knowledge Hub, 8 May 2020, thefishsite.com/articles/adaptation-to-climate-change-lessons-from-norwegian-salmon-aquaculture.

Great New Places. Barramundi Asia. 2019. media.kuhlbarra.com/wysiwyg/MediaPDF/_2019.02.28_Great_New_Places_-_Barramundi_Asia.pdf.

Iberdrola. "The Survival of Marine Fauna Depends on Sustainable Fishing." Iberdrola, 4 Mar. 2020, www.iberdrola.com/social-commitment/sustainable-fishing.

IntraFish Media. "From the Archive December 2018: Norwegian Salmon Farming Costs Jumped 5% in 2017." Intrafish | Latest Seafood, Aquaculture and Fisheries News, 13 Nov. 2019, www.intrafish.com/aquaculture/from-the-archive-december-2018-norwegian-salmon-farming-costs-jumped-5-in-2017/2-1-504230.

Lecatompessy, Rio. Fishing boat. Photograph. Unsplash, 13 Feb. 2020, unsplash.com/photos/yreiA2E6_a0.

Marine Stewardship Council. "Sustainable Fishing." Sustainable Fishing | MSC | Marine Stewardship Council, www.msc.org/home.

---. "What is Sustainable Fishing | Marine Stewardship Council." Sustainable Fishing | MSC | Marine Stewardship Council, www.msc.org/what-we-are-doing/our-approach/what-is-sustainable-fishing.

Seafood From Norway. "A Sustainable Solution for Feeding the World." Seafood from Norway, seafoodfromnorway.us/origin/Norway-the-worlds-leader-in-aquaculture/a-sustainable-solution-for-feeding-the-world/.

---. "The Truth About Norwegian Farm Raised Salmon." Seafood from Norway, seafoodfromnorway.us/origin/Norway-the-worlds-leader-in-aquaculture/the-truth-about-norwegian-farm-raised-salmon/.

Singapore Goverment Singapore Food Agency. "The Food We Eat." Singapore Goverment Singapore Food Agency, 30 June 2020, www.sfa.gov.sg/food-farming/singapore-food-supply/the-food-we-eat#:~:text=With%20little%20farming%20land%2C%20Singapore,13%25%20of%20all%20the%20vegetables.

Teh, Cheryl. "Local barramundi farm scales up with $2 million nursery extension." The Straits Times, [Singapore], 27 Feb. 2019, www.straitstimes.com/singapore/local-barramundi-farm-scales-up-with-2-million-nursery-extension.

Wiki2. "Sustainable Fishery." WIKI 2. Wikipedia Republished, Wikimedia Foundation, Inc, 17 June 2020, wiki2.org/en/Sustainable_fishery.

World Economic Forum. "David Attenborough Explains What We Need to Do to Stop Over-Fishing." YouTube, 8 Oct. 2019, www.youtube.com/watch?v=og8N-EslUPQ.

World Wildlife Foundation. "Overfishing." World Wildlife Fund, www.worldwildlife.org/threats/overfishing.

---. "Working for Sustainable Fishing." WWF Conserves Our Planet, Habitats, & Species Like the Panda & Tiger | WWF, wwf.panda.org/our_work/oceans/solutions/sustainable_fisheries/.

Edited by Aman Majmudar

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