I came across an article in a newspaper yesterday that is quite disturbing. The article related to Cleanseas, a publicly listed company in the
business of fish farming that is based in South Australia.
A bit about the company -
Cleanseas experience and understanding of the premium Japanese sashimi markets encouraged the development of a fish farming operation which could
deliver the highest quality fin-fish to the most discerning markets in the world. By focussing our efforts on three indigenous local species;
Yellowtail Kingfish, Mulloway and Southern Bluefin Tuna, we have been able to develop a family of fish which are not only produced by world’s
best-practice methods, but which are also undeniably delicious.
Cleanseas farm fish in open water sea cages and their entire Kingfish stocks have recently been almost completely wiped out by a mystery illness they
describe as 'Gut Enteritis'.
A MYSTERY illness causing the death of its yellowtail kingfish will add at least $17.5 million to Clean Seas Tuna's full-year loss.The company said
yesterday the gut enteritis problem affecting its kingfish had worsened since February and had so far wiped out 38 per cent of its 2012 stock.To make
matters worse, experts had found that fish that survive the illness were being hit by secondary infestations due to their weakened health
This is disturbing for a number of reasons-
- Farmed fish are prone to developing new exotic deseases and the fact that these fish are farmed in open water in the middle of prime natural habitat
for Kingfish means the entire species could be in danger.
- Alternatively, if this desease has come from outside the farm, the fact it is described as enteritis is concerning because in humans a major
triggering factor for enteritis is radiation exposure.
- Most concerning of all is the fact this article appeared in the business section of the Newspaper and its focus was on the concern for profit write
downs and falling share prices rather than on the potential enviromental/ecological disaster. Not to worry though, the company is going to try
manipulate the spawning season to bring it forward and hopefully lessen the impact of losses. It does admit though that there are some biological
risks involved in doing this but these risks are apparently worth taking.
Like many other fish farmers, their product is sold under trademarked Japanese names to appeal to the market in Japan and after looking at the global
trade in fish and fish products its easy to see why. It is also easy to see why there is silence on the mounting evidence of widespread contamination
of the Pacific Ocean from the Fukushima Nuclear Disaster.
Based on 2010 figures-
*The fisheries industry supports through direct employment and their dependants approx 540million people or 8%of the worlds population
*The Global fishing fleet is made up of 4.3million vessells with the majority based in Asia
*International Trade in fish represents a significant source of foreign currency earnings. The export value of world trade in fish is more than the
value of net exports of rice, coffee, sugar and tea
*53% of fish stocks are now considered to be fully exploited, 32% are over exploited, and there is only 3% which is considered under exploited. The
remainder is classed as various degrees of depleted
*Since the 1970's, Japan has been the world’s largest single national importer of fish and fishery products with 15% of world trade going to Japan.
Fish provides an average of 15.7% of the animal protein in our diets but this figure is much, much higher in many developing countries. If the oceans
are contaminated as badly as many reports are suggesting then the result will be catastrophic to say the least. The only question will be whether the
biggest killer ends up being starvation or radiation poisoning.
This from Nicholas Fisher, an aptly named marine scientist if ever there was one..,
"I would probably be hesitant to eat a lot of those fish," said Nicholas Fisher, a marine sciences professor at the State University of New York at
Cesium was especially prevalent in certain of the species:
• 73 per cent of mackerel tested
• 91 per cent of the halibut
• 92 per cent of the sardines
• 93 per cent of the tuna and eel
• 94 per cent of the cod and anchovies
• 100 per cent of the carp, seaweed, shark and monkfish
Some of the fish were caught in Japanese coastal waters. Other catches were made hundreds of kilometres away in the open ocean.
There, the fish also can be caught by fishers from dozens of other nations who fish in the waters of the Pacific.
Yet, Japan is the only country that appears to be systematically testing fish for radiation
This raises certain questions about Japan. One thing you will never see Japan winning is an international awards in recognition of the efforts in
conservation, especially when it comes to the Ocean, There main contribution to the conservation of our oceans is their annual scientific expedition
down to Australian waters where they slaughter large numbers of whales including the endangered humpback. Despite widespread condemnation, Japan is
allowed to continue this annual slaughter because they claim it is scientific research. Unfortunately, this research has so far failed to produce one
single bit of useful data except maybe which method of harpooning is quickest and most accurate to secure the beast before Greenpeace gets in the
There is nothing in the Ocean that the Japanese do not eat. Whales, Jellyfish, Eels, Raw fish (sashimi) wrapped in sea-weed, Cooked fish of any kind
including the extremely toxic puffer fish served in Japan as Fugu. Nothing goes to waste.
If it were proven beyond all reasonable doubt that the contamination from Fukushima truly is as bad as it possibly could be, worst possible is a
worst case scenario the world does come to the realisation that the nuclear disaster in Japan is responsible for turning half the Ocean into a toxic
Fugu soup, who should be held responsible and what should be done to protect the remaining fish stocks? Should the commercial fishing industry be shut
down so fish stocks could be managed and a 'fair share' be rationed to nations that rely on it for survival? Would Japan have exceeded its fair
share? Given that there is already evidence of contamination, does Japan now have a moral obligation to cease activities such as whaling humpacks and
start showing a more conservative approach.
What do you think?
As a start, I think Tepco should have its assets seized, sold off, and the profits used to help people in Japan and around the world affected by the
disaster. In the interest of fairness, the same goes for BP.
Of course, none of these questions will ever need to be addressed because there is nothing to see here. Fish have always had three eyes, two heads and
a green glow. Move along...