Impact of Aquaculture on Commercial Fisheries: Fishermen’s Local Ecological Knowledge
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The Bay of Fundy along the southwest coast of New Brunswick, Canada is one of the most densely stocked finfish aquaculture areas in the world. An inshore multi-species fishery that dates back to the earliest European settlement shares these waters, and has been the economic mainstay of coastal communities. These inshore fishermen are increasingly displaced by the expanding aquaculture industry. A recent study conducted among fishermen in Southwest New Brunswick recorded their observations about the environmental impact of finfish aquaculture and the consequences for their commercial fishery. Fishermen all reported significant environmental degradation around aquaculture sites. Within 2 years of an operation being established, fishermen reported that gravid female lobsters as well as herring avoid the area, scallop and sea urchin shells become brittle, scallop meat and sea urchin roe becomes discolored. The use of chemicals to control sea lice on farmed salmon has also caused lobster, crab and shrimp kills. These and other concerns suggest that more comprehensive and detailed studies are required to establish the environmental and economic interactions of aquaculture and the inshore fishery, as well as on the stocks on which that fishery rely. The study also points to the need for more effective use of fishermen’s knowledge in designing such studies.