At present, there is no international cooperation to provide scientific advice on issues related to aquaculture. To provide advice to Norwegian authorities in 2010, the Institute of Marine Research (IMR) assembled available information into the report "Risk Assessment - Environmental Impacts of Norwegian Aquaculture Operations" that is updated annually. Among other conclusions, the report pointed out knowledge-gaps in certain areas.
Providing International Advice
Through ICES, researchers from many countries determine scientific advice on how best to manage fisheries in various countries. A number of scientists from IMR participate in this process which ultimately leads to setting appropriate fishing quotas. As leader of IMR’s program to research and provide management advice on aquaculture, Boxaspen proposes the establishment of an international equivalent.
- Aquaculture operations are conducted within a single country’s territorial waters and are, therefore, a national issue. However, we see that many countries are contending with the same issues related to the effects that aquaculture operations may have on the environment surrounding fish farms. This means that we can help each other to ensure adequate research and monitoring nationally to provide advice for efficient and effective aquaculture production, says Boxaspen.
Monitoring Programs Needed
In order to document possible effects of aquaculture operations over time, it is necessary to understand what is normal for a given area. Often, such knowledge is either lacking or insufficient both in Norway and internationally.
- Here in Norway, we need additional long-term monitoring programs similar to those now established to monitor rates of infection with sea lice and escapement for fish-farming facilities. The government's strategic document to ensure an environmentally-sustainable aquaculture industry states that natural fish stocks should suffer no negative effects. However, in marine environments with multiple influencing factors — including natural fluctuation and variation — it is particularly difficult to distinguish between cause and effect. Therefore, long-term monitoring is essential. Currently IMR has particular focus on the effects of sea lice on farmed fish, the effects of escaped farm-raised fish on natural populations, and the effect of organic matter (fouling) from farming operations on the hard and deep bottom, says Boxaspen.