Evaluation of the extent, technical and operational causes and cost of escape events
WP Leader: Dr Dave Jackson, Marine Institute, Ireland
- Consult with industry and relevant agencies through a confidential questionnaire and follow up interviews to gather information on methodologies and technologies currently used in on growing finfish in the marine environment
- Gather available existing information on the extent, size and knowledge of the causes of escapes
- Conduct detailed assessments of the explicit technical or operational causes of escapes at sea-cage fish farms throughout Europe by direct assessment of known escape events at industrial fish farms
- Establish the total economic cost of escape events through a cost evaluation
The overall goal of the MAP Escape WP is to assess how and why escapes occur and to determine the full economic cost of escape events to farmers. By consulting with industry and state bodies the MAP work package will provide knowledge that will advance our understanding of the extent and causes of escape. Such knowledge is essential to develop technological and operational measures to prevent escapes and strategies to mitigate the environmental effects of escapees.
Knowledge of the extent and causes of escape incidents from sea-cage fish farms varies greatly from country to country across Europe. Several countries, such as Norway, Ireland and Scotland, have mandatory reporting requirements whereby farmers are obligated to report escape incidents, their size and cause when they occur. In contrast, Mediterranean countries have no such requirements, thus no statistics are available on the number of escapes or the underlying causes of escapes (Dempster et al. 2007).
Technical improvements to aquaculture facilities and operations are essential for preventing escapes and for curbing economic losses due to lost production volumes. As a first step towards preventing escapes, knowledge of how, why, when and where fish escape is critical for improving farm equipment and operations.
Through questionnaires, in 6 countries throughout Europe (Ireland, Scotland, Norway, Spain, Greece, and Malta) where sea-cage fish farming takes place, the methodology and technology presently used in on-growing at sea, the incidence of escapes and their underlying reasons will be documented. Following the questionnaires, a series of detailed one-on-one interviews with fish farmers and visits to farms that have recently experienced an escape event will be conducted. This initial knowledge base will be important for subsequent work plans involving experiments on behavioural patterns and testing of technologies and methodologies in field studies. In this regard, outputs from other work packages in the project will feed into the final MAP WP
Results of preliminary questionnaires to assess the extent and causes of escapes
From the 83 questionnaires which were completed across the 6 countries, there were 72 reported escape incidents. This data will be added to the official data which is available from Norway, Ireland and the UK. The next step will be to conduct a series of detailed one-on-one interviews with fish farmers through visits to farms that have recently experienced an escape event. The number of interviews will vary in each country depending on the number of escape incidents in farms for particular species (Ireland and Scotland: salmonids (5) cod (up to 5); Norway: salmonids (5), cod (5); Spain, Malta, Greece: sea bream and sea bass (5)). In total, approximately 45 escape incidents will be investigated in detail across Europe. A standardised format for the assessments will be documented and qualified aquaculture engineers and aquaculture operations specialists from the Marine Institute and SINTEF Fisheries and Aquaculture will oversee the process to ensure standardisation of results.