Marine Harvest, a Norwegian multinational corporation, is trying to recapture more than 680,000 factory-farmed salmon from Chilean waters, according to a news report.
The factory farm sustained “serious structural damage” during severe weather conditions at the beginning of July, the company’s Punta Redonda site states. After workers were able to return to the site safely two days later, they recaptured about 250,000 salmon, but more than 680,000 remain missing.
The escaped salmon, treated with a veterinary antibiotic called florfenicol, can devastate surrounding ecosystems and indigenous marine species, leading Chilean authorities to call for the closure of the factory farm.
Because factory farms are so filthy, they are the perfect breeding grounds for parasites, such as sea lice. In 2016, fish factory farms saw a widespread outbreak of sea lice ranging from Norway to Chile. The parasites had infested nearly half of Scotland’s salmon farms as of last year. These sea lice and other parasites could effectively wipe out native fish populations.
And this isn’t the first time fish at farms have escaped. Thousands of nonnative Atlantic salmon fled when an anchor broke loose and the floating metal walkways collapsed on a factory farm in Washington last year. Of the 305,000 Atlantic salmon being held in the pen, officials were unsure of the exact number who swam free.
Kurt Beardslee, director of the Wild Fish Conservancy Northwest, called the incident an “environmental nightmare,” stating:
The Atlantic salmon bring with them pollution, virus and parasite amplification, and all that harms Pacific salmon and our waters of Washington. The majority of our salmon migrate through the straits when they're leaving as juveniles. You start having a viral or parasitic outbreak there, when our juvenile fish are moving through—it could be a disaster.
Just this month, researchers at the University of Washington found that fish farming has one of the greatest environmental impacts when it comes to animal-based protein production.
After a diver’s disturbing video showed blood and guts from a fish slaughterhouse pouring into waterways in British Columbia, an audit conducted by the BC Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy found that a whopping 70 percent of fish slaughterhouses failed to comply with environmental regulations.
The many fish slaughterhouses operating under older regulations way below contemporary standards not only cause massive pollution but could infect wild salmon with a disease called piscine reovirus.
If that’s not terrifying enough, fish bred and raised at factory farms live a nightmare every day.
Farmed salmon are forced to grow at such an accelerated rate that more than half are at least partially deaf due to an inner-ear deformity that also affects their balance. This deformity is found in more than 95 percent of fully grown factory-farmed fish globally, including in Norway, Chile, Scotland, Canada, and Australia.
Going deaf is just one problem for salmon and other fish living at factory farms. A study published in Royal Society Open Science found that many farmed salmon suffer from severe depression and float lifelessly in filthy tanks.
In these “drop-out” salmon, scientists measured significantly higher levels of the stress-response hormone cortisol and observed increased activity in the serotonergic system, a key regulator of sleep, respiration, and mood. Interestingly, studies of humans suffering from poverty and other socioeconomic hardships have revealed similar physiological changes.
And after living in misery, fish are brutally slaughtered.
Fortunately, vegan seafood options are abundant and don’t contribute to the cruel commercial fishing industry that decimates the environment and wild fish populations; keeps fish in filthy, lice-infested conditions; and raises fish to suffer deformities.
Check out some of our favorite vegan seafood recipes.