Information in the reports will then be used to guide discussions about developing jointly acceptable global standards for salmon aquaculture. A discussion about the socioeconomic costs and benefits of salmon aquaculture globally and in Chile also will be on the agenda.
The meeting of the Salmon Aquaculture Dialogue Dec. 11-13 in Santiago will be the 10th meeting of the dialogue since the group was created in 2004.
"It is only by having a close dialogue with the society around us and accepting change and continuous improvement, that we can secure the future of salmon farming," said Petter Arnesen, group technical director of Marine Harvest and dialogue Steering Committee member.
The goal of the dialogue is to develop measurable, performance-based standards that minimize or eliminate the key environmental and social impacts of salmon farming. In addition to chemical inputs and nutrient loading/carrying capacity, the other key impacts identified by the dialogue participants are feed, disease, escapes, social and benthic inputs/siting.
"More than 60 percent of the salmon consumed globally is produced at salmon farms, many of which are in Chile, and the demand for farmed salmon is increasing dramatically" said Jose Villalon, director of aquaculture at World Wildlife Fund, which is coordinating the dialogue. "It is absolutely essential, therefore, to explore options for ensuring that salmon is farmed in an environmentally and socially responsible manner."
To learn more about each impact, the dialogue Steering Committee created technical working groups that drafted a series of "State of Information Reports." Each document will assess existing research related to an impact, identify gaps or areas of disagreement in the research, and suggest a process for addressing the gaps. The reports will be used as a basis for stakeholder discussion and, ultimately, as a framework for creating principles, criteria, indicators and standards for salmon aquaculture. The first report was published in 2005 and relates to salmon feed and the environment.
The second report, to be presented at the meeting in Santiago, addresses the current status of intentional chemical inputs, regulation and research in the salmon aquaculture industry in Chile, Norway, Scotland and Canada. Chemical inputs assessed include antibiotics, metals, anti-parasitic compounds, disinfectants and anesthetics. The report examines the extent to which these chemicals can be toxic and pollute the water. The authors of the report are Les Burridge, St. Andrews Biological Station; Felipe Cabello, New York Medical College; Jaime Pizarro, Universidad de Santiago de Chile; and Judith Weis, Rutgers University.
The third report, also to be presented for feedback at the December meeting, focuses on nutrient loadings by commercial salmon aquaculture in the major farming regions of the world and impacts on the pelagic marine and freshwater Chilean lake ecosystems. The authors of the report are Dr. Alejandro Buschmann, Universidad de los Lagos; Dr. Barry A. Costa-Pierce, University of Rhode Island; Dr. Stephen Cross, University of Victoria, Canada; Dr. Jose Luis Iriarte, Universidad Austral de Chile; Dr. Yngvar Olsen, University of Science and Technology, Norway; and Dr. Gregor Reid, University of New Brunswick, Canada.
"The salmon dialogue plays an important role in developing science-based information about the impacts of salmon farming," said Giuliana Furci, salmon farming program coordinator for Fundación Terram and a member of the Steering Committee. "These reports will provide a clear view of the global and regional impacts associated with salmon aquaculture and will identify the knowledge gaps that need to be addressed in the short term."