Sustainabilty pressure is on for the aquaculture industry

aquaculture industry sustainability

Is the aquaculture industry capable of meeting the UNDP’s sustainable development goals?

One of the UNDP Sustainable Development Goals (SDG,) aim is to sustainably manage and protect marine and coastal ecosystems (aquaculture industry) by enhancing conservation and the sustainable use of ocean-based resources through international law.

The SDGs aim to sustainably manage and protect marine and coastal ecosystems from pollution, as well as address the impacts of ocean acidification.

There are 17 SDGs in the report regarding these three factors, but only 9 applies to ocean-based resources. The aquaculture industry sustainability guidelines.

Are the B.C. salmon farmers pulling their weight in this hefty demand to save our world?

Goal 1 of (17)

Put an end to poverty – eradicating poverty will always be one of the greatest challenges facing humanity. There are too many people still living in extreme poverty. They are still struggling for the most basic of human needs.

The B.C. salmon farmers currently employ 6,700. employees, many of them from coastal communities. As the aquaculture industry grows

Goal 2 of (17)

End hunger – Unfortunately, extreme hunger and malnutrition remain a huge barrier to development in many countries. 795 million people are estimated to be chronically undernourished as of 2014, often as a direct consequence of environmental degradation, drought and loss of biodiversity.

B.C.’s salmon farmers believe that without aquaculture, wild fish are at risk of overfishing, because the oceans cannot supply the increased demand for healthy seafood. Fish farming provides a healthy seafood for domestic markets, as well as growing exports to countries around the world.

Goal 3 of (17)

Good health and well-being – Every day hundreds of women die during pregnancy or from child-birth related complications. More than 6 million children still die, due to preventable diseases and under-nourishment, before their fifth birthday every year.

B.C salmon farmers’ farm salmon. Salmon are packed with essential nutrients like healthy protein, vitamins and minerals, including potassium, selenium and vitamin B12, and omega-3 fatty acids. The most beneficial omega-3 fats occur naturally in oily fish in the form of eicosapentanoic acid (EPA) and docosahexanoic acid (DHA). For pregnant and breastfeeding women EPA and DHA are important for their baby’s developing central nervous system, including the brain.

Salmon contribute to a healthy diet and overall well-being not only through improved nutrition and livelihoods, but also in the biocontrol of disease vectors. (pregnant women should always consult their doctor for diet guidelines).

Goal 5 of (17)

Gender equality – Ending all forms of discrimination against women and girls is not only a basic human right, but it also crucial to accelerating sustainable development. It has been proven time and again, that empowering women and girls has a multiplier effect, and helps drive up economic growth and development across the board.

B.C.’s salmon farmers employ women, without discrimination, in all aspects of salmon farming. SeaWestNews is currently running a series on “Women in Aquaculture” around the globe.

Goal 6 of (17)

Clean water and sanitation – Water scarcity affects more than 40 percent of people around the world, an alarming figure that is projected to increase with the rise of global temperatures as a result of climate change. Dwindling supplies of safe drinking water is a major problem impacting every continent.

BC salmon is raised in its authentic environment – for approximately half of their life cycle, farmed salmon are raised in an enclosed environment in freshwater hatcheries. For the remaining half of the fish’s life cycle, marine pens utilize ocean tides to move water and provide fresh oxygen to the fish.

B.C.’s fish farming industry is diligent about reducing their carbon footprint, and protecting the world’s 1 percent of accessible fresh water.

Goal 8 of (17)

Decent work and economic growth – We are seeing slower growth, widening inequalities, and not enough jobs to keep up with a growing labour force. According to the International Labour Organization, more than 204 million people were unemployed in 2015.

Salmon farmers currently employ over 6,000 in British Columbia. The aquaculture industry creates equal opportunity jobs in neglected communities, and lead community initiative programs by creating profitable businesses.

B.C.’s salmon farm aquaculture industry also contributes money from today’s industries to build better systems for an even more sustainable tomorrow.

Goal 12 of (17)

Responsible consumption and production – Achieving economic growth and sustainable development requires that we urgently reduce our ecological footprint by changing the way we produce and consume goods and resources. Agriculture is the biggest user of water worldwide, and irrigation now claims close to 70 percent of all freshwater for human use.

B.C.’s salmon is farmed in the ocean. Aquaculture is the most effective way to produce seafood without causing environmental damage. B.C. salmon farmers produced 92,800 Metric Tonnes of salmon (2016) with very low energy consumption and zero risk to arable land.

Goal 13 of (17)

Climate action – There is no country in the world that is not experiencing first-hand the drastic effects of climate change. Greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise, and are now more than 50 percent higher than their 1990 level.

In October 2016, Ottawa based RIAS Inc. released an Environmental Footprint Report presenting results from a life-cycle analyses of literature on the environmental footprint of B.C. farm-raised salmon compared to production of other food proteins.

Based on the valuation of greenhouse gases, land use, water use, and eutrophication (caused by runoff from the land), B.C. salmon farming has a lower total environmental cost than beef, chicken, or pork.

Goal 15 of (17)

Life on land – Human life depends on the earth as much as the ocean for our sustenance and livelihoods. Today we are seeing unprecedented land degradation, and the loss of arable land at 30 to 35 times the historical rate. Drought and desertification is also on the rise each year, amounting to the loss of 12 million hectares and affecting poor communities globally. Of the 8,300 animal breeds known, 8 percent are extinct and 22 percent are at risk of extinction.

The B.C. salmon farming community is pulling their weight and continues to innovate for a better tomorrow.

See below for some food for thought:

“The Global Salmon Initiative (GSI) was created by a number of salmon producers, who decided a model of pre-competitive collaboration and increased transparency was the best way to improve the sustainability of the aquaculture industry . Its members set ambitious targets of achieving the highest environmental and social standards – as set by the Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC) – sharing expertise and knowledge to promote accelerated change at speed and at scale, and sharing their progress via a publicly available and transparent reporting platform.

Jason Clay, Senior Vice President, Food & Markets, World Wildlife Fund (WWF) said, “In no other sector have we seen change at the speed and scale as we have done through the GSI, and it’s the GSI members’ visionary outlook that is making that possible.”

Related Links:

Sustainable Development

B.C. salmon farmers climate action

About salmon farming

Fish farming will play a bigger role in feeding the world’s population

Stable coastal communities because of salmon farming

B.C. First Nations tell eco-militants to stay away

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