Salmonbusiness.com reported July 30 that Atlantic Sapphire of Homestead, Florida, was recently forced to destroy 200,000 salmon from its land-based salmon farm.
“The exact chain of events is still being investigated,” the company said, “however, disruptive construction work close to the operating environment, including loud sounds and severe vibrations, stressed the fish. Additionally, recent challenges of delayed construction and commissioning, in part because of the COVID-19 pandemic impact, have resulted in increased risk in the operation at this time.”
This follows a March 2 salmonbusiness.com report on Atlantic Sapphire having to destroy 227,000 salmon because of a nitrogen spike in its fish tanks.
On July 17, salmonbusiness.com reported that salmon prices plunged 43 percent from mid-June to mid-July.
And all this follows media reports of massive escapes from land-based fish farms.
Clearly industrial land-based salmon production is a risky proposition, financially and environmentally. Equally clear is that various things can cause or force the loss or destruction of large numbers of fish in land-based fish operations. If Nordic Aquafarms were to build its proposed industrial fish operation in Belfast and were to face such calamity, it would have to drain its massive tanks, clean them with highly toxic chemicals, dispose of those chemicals – presumably into Belfast Bay – and then refill its enormous tanks, putting further stress on Belfast's aquifer and watershed.
And if market circumstances were to force Nordic out of Belfast, who would restore the dozens of acres of destroyed mature forest, wetlands and wildlife habitat?
I look forward to Nordic's response that this could never happen here, that Atlantic Sapphire is a bunch of incompetents, that fish can't escape from land-based fish farms, that the world has plenty of water, that Atlantic Sapphire's construction and commissioning delays are nothing like the quite considerable delays Nordic has suffered in Norway and Belfast, and that Sapphire's noise problems are nothing like the noise problems that have caused neighbors of Nordic's Fredrikstad, Norway plant to fight a company that promised a silent plant.
Yes, I look forward to that.
Lawrence Reichard lives in Belfast