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Riley Kooh | June 10th, 2022
With global populations increasing exponentially over the past century, the demand for food production is also growing at a rapid pace. As a response, sustainable food production from aquaculture is rising in popularity due to its resource efficiency. From 1990 to 2018, worldwide aquaculture production increased by 527%. However, with fisheries facing pressure for consistent year-over-year growth to match demand, illegal operations can arise as an effort to increase production.
Common examples of illegal aquaculture operations include:
Breaching legal guidelines not only places substantial risk on internal staff, but also the surrounding natural environment and end consumers. Without regulation, fish farming can result in unsafe working conditions, habitat destruction, food scarcities, water pollution, and health concerns from consumption of contaminated fish.
The Global Seafood Alliance lays out a number of aquaculture best practices for their members to follow. Organizations like this allow for fisheries to receive certifications to highlight their safe and sustainable practices. With dedicated guidance, farm operators can be sure that they are optimizing operations for environmental responsibility, food safety, animal health, and social responsibility, while avoiding legal complications.
Associated costs can include paying dive teams for consistent inspections, conducting regular maintenance tasks, and using only approved materials, chemicals, or feed. Although short-term, an illegal operation may avoid some upfront costs, potential fines can be catastrophic. Under s. 40 of the Canadian Fisheries Act, corporations will face a between a $500,000 - $6,000,000 fine for first offenses.
Underneath the federal level, oftentimes provincial/state governments assist in many capacities of regulation. Breaking into the province/state level allows industry regulations to be more specific, making for more appropriate enforcement for each region.
The farming of illegal species introduces a major concern of escapes resulting in invasive species. Without consistent monitoring and maintenance of net pens, escapes can be unpredictable. Depending on the species, even minor breaches can cause irreparable damage to natural populations or spread foreign disease. This example from an illegal Nile Tilapia farm in Ghana shows what can happen in these circumstances. After opening prior to legal approval, Nile Tilapia began escaping, causing an invasive take over, with up to 10% of the local fish population being replaced after only 3 years of operation. Long-term, this can carry irreversible consequences to historical fishing patterns and wreak havoc on natural environments.
Observation or micro class ROVs can quickly and easily be deployed by officers to evaluate and record the status of nets, mortalities, parasite outbreaks, stock species, or other submerged assets. When equipped with a sonde or sampling tool, ROVs can also be effectively used to record environmental data to ensure safe chemical levels. All of these operations can be effectively performed while an officer remains safely on shore.
Ask us about ROVs and get your fish farm a convenient inspection option on hand
The intuitive handheld BRIDGE controller resembles the controls of a video game, shortening the learning curve for use. Robust features combined with simple controls results in a powerful inspection tool that most officers will immediately be able to operate.
As always, our team of experts is available to answer any questions you may have. If you’re looking to streamline aquaculture inspections, rely on the ROVs trusted by Fisheries and Oceans Canada. Reach out to get your customized quote today.
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