Undercurrent News, 10 Feb 2014: Disease, including AGD, to remain key in 2014 salmon market

Disease, including AGD, to remain key in 2014 salmon market

Undercurrent News, 10 Feb 2014

Disease issues including AGD and listeria will continue to define salmon supply and quality issues in Europe in 2014, believes fish health and processing hygiene specialist Elvin Bugge, CEO of Aquatic Concept.

Amoebic gill disease, or AGD, is the most important issue facing salmon in 2014, he said, speaking at Marel’s Salmon Showhow in Copenhagen, Denmark, on Feb. 5.

After harming the Scottish industry over the past few years, AGD is making its way to Norway, where it is a new problem, he said. A comparatively warm Norwegian winter has meant the amoeba has likely survived in the seas, and the disease it brings is expected to affect supply out of the country from as early as August.

During his talk later that day, Rabobank analyst Gorjan Nikolik said he had re-evaluated the expected impact of AGD on Norway’s salmon supply this year, changing his outlook from nothing to worry about, to “something to worry about”, based on recent information.

Water temperatures have been warm over the winter, and remain so in early 2014. When this happened in 2012 there was a real boost to feed consumption and biomass, but Nikolik warned AGD could counteract that effect this year.

However, it is worth noting the disease did not have that effect in 2012, and remains only a possibility, he said.

Though salmon prices are sliding from the all-time high they were at, AGD could keep supplies limited this year, said Bugge. Addressing a room of salmon processors, he warned customer satisfaction, as well as making money, would be tricky with prices so variable.

As for listeria, automation in processing plants is helping to reduce the amount of hands-on contact needed with salmon as it is prepared, he said.

“A listeria-free plant is possible. These days half are, but that means half are not,” he said. He recommended CIP (cleaning in place) systems which, after being adopted by four plants in Norway, have resulted in the elimination of listeria since.
The future for salmon processors depends on high quality delivered at competitive prices – and, of course, making money doing it. The best advice he could offer on this front was shifting mentality from a fixed set of regulations for running operations, to more flexibility, combined with automation that will clean and document itself.

With farmers making fantastic profits, and retail growth in Europe at an all-time low, processors were trapped in between at the moment, said Bugge.

Tesco’s processed salmon sales have seen 0% growth since 2011, while it has been years since Carrefour saw growth of more than 1%. The picture was the same in Scandinavia, he said.


One thought on “Undercurrent News, 10 Feb 2014: Disease, including AGD, to remain key in 2014 salmon market

  1. Diseases and parasites, generally speaking and in intensive farming specifically, are usually seen as problems. In reality, from the perspective of the health of life on earth, they are the opposite: they avoid or remedy problems. What does that say about the practice of intensive farming, where chemical warfare against parasites and diseases is ever escalating?
    Chemical storage for or after use on salmon farm.

    Chemical storage for or after use on salmon farm.

    From the perspective of the fish farming industry, sea lice and diseases such as Amoebic Gill Disease (AGD) and Infectious Salmon Anemia (ISA) are absolute disasters. In 2006, the costs of sea lice control in the United Kingdom was estimated at more than 33 million Euros. That seems to be the costs excluding those for salmon lost to sea lice, their disposal and the resulting losses in profit. And that is just about sea lice. In February 2013 Rob Edwards reported that:

    “The number of salmon killed by diseases at Scottish fish farms leapt to over 8.5 million [13,627 tonnes] last year, sparking fresh doubts about the sustainability of the £1 billion industry.

    “New figures released by the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (Sepa) reveal that losses from all salmon farms have reached nearly ten per cent of their production.”

    Despite more new farms and increased size of some existing ones, The Guardian reports that “Scottish salmon production is expected to fall by 10,000 tonnes this year […], the largest annual fall in nearly a decade, after being hit by a series of disease outbreaks“.

    Because diseases and parasites are seen as problems, the industry looks for solutions. Unfortunately, like Eric Sevareid said, “the chief cause of problems is solutions”. Especially if problems and solutions are incorrectly defined.

    Contrary to popular belief, parasites and diseases are not problems; they are solutions to problems. The problem in the case of salmon farming is unnaturally high numbers of salmon held under unnatural circumstances in unnaturally high densities for unnaturally long periods of time, fed unnatural food and forced to behave unnaturally, all leading to stress of the salmon and the area and community where they are held. In such a case, it is not a question of whether or not parasites and diseases will hit, but a question of how soon and how bad it will be. Their appearance is the clearest possible sign that you’re doing something wrong, and not a signal that it is time to declare chemical warfare. Parasites and diseases are part of the natural immune system of the Community of All Life (ecosystem if you will), moving in to avoid or remedy the problem before the whole area is damaged, and ‘treating’ diseases with chemicals is the suppressing of that immune system. If successful, the treatment will leave the community immunocompromised, after which things will truly spiral out of control. Usually, however, the parasites and diseases can adapt to the ‘treatment’ faster than vice versa, which means that the immune system becomes overactive and overeffective, after which things will also truly spiral out of control. Sea lice, for example, are notoriously good at developing resistance against chemical treatments more quickly than new treatments can be developed.

    Naturally this principle doesn’t only go for farmed salmon, but for all species. That certainly includes humans, as a list of infestations of diseases which have periodically significantly reduced human populations proves.

    Similar to what is happening with almost all major intensive farming methods, be it on land or in the water, the escalating chemical warfare the salmon farming industry wages on ever more prevalent and resistent parasites and diseases affecting their overpopulated and unbalanced salmon has not been able to avoid production losses, even though the industry is working hard to increase production, and the chosen approach is doing great damage to Scottish waters and sealife.

    There is no right way to do the wrong thing. This kind of aquaculture is wrong. It cannot be done right. At best it can be done slightly less wrong.

    There is a solution; a truly sustainable alternative. It’s not large scale closed containment, although that is potentially a lot less wrong than the currently accepted method. It would not only benefit people and local human communities, but also the land and water and all that lives. It would not benefit big business. The answer is ages old. I will try to post an article about this within two weeks.

    From: http://www.skyemarineconcern.org/241/

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