Farmed Salmon Rejected Over Huge Spike in Antibiotic Use Due to Bacterial Outbreak
Costco is in the news again for its food purchases. Last month, 300,000 people demanded that Costco commit to not selling GMO salmon and in the last few weeks Ryan Gosling, Brad Pitt and Bill Maher have all called out the retail giant for selling eggs from caged hens. But when it comes to Chilean salmon pumped up on antibiotics, Costco is saying enough is enough.
The recent spike in antibiotic use in Chilean farmed salmon has caused Costco to decrease its reliance on the South American country's farmed salmon, opting instead for farmed salmon from Norway, whose farmers use far fewer antibiotics. In fact, Norway’s use of antibiotics in aquaculture is at the lowest level since the late 1970s, according to a recent report from the Norwegian Veterinary Institute.
Up until a few months ago, Costco was sourcing 90 percent of the 600,000 pounds of salmon it purchases every week from Chilean salmon farms, reports Reuters. But antibiotic use among Chilean farmers has increased 25 percent from 2013, due in large measure to a bacterial outbreak in Chile's coastal waters. In response, Costco has begun to source 60 percent of its salmon from Norway and drop down to only 40 percent from Chile.
To battle Piscirickettsiosis (or SRS) bacteria, which causes lesions, hemorrhaging and swollen kidneys and spleens, and ultimately death in infected fish, Chilean farmers are using ever increasing amount of antibiotics to try and keep their fish stock healthy. But concerns about drug-resistant superbugs have led many American consumers to seek out antibiotic-free products.
A former executive at a Chilean salmon producer worries that the move "could hurt the local industry's reputation and spur other retailers to follow suit," says Reuters. But Costco is not the first to make such a switch. Retailers such as Whole Foods and Trader Joe's have gradually phased out Chilean farmed salmon in favor of wild-caught, antibiotic-free fish. Even Target has eliminated farmed salmon from its shelves.
“The whole industry is starting to shift,” Costco told Reuters. “If I was to ask you your biggest concern on produce, you might say pesticides. When we ask people in protein, generally it’s going to be hormones or antibiotics.”
Chile, the second largest producer of salmon in the world, produced close to 1 million tons of fish last year and used about 1.2 million pounds of antibiotics to raise those fish, according to Reuters. In comparison, Norway, the world's number one producer of salmon, produces more salmon (around 1.4 million tons) and uses far fewer antibiotics (2,142 pounds of antibiotics in 2013, the latest year for data). And The Seattle Times reports that "Costco was able to nudge Norwegian salmon farmers toward offering salmon raised without antibiotics."
Industry executives insist that the fish treated with antibiotics are safe for consumption. "The final product consumers eat has no antibiotics," Ricardo Garcia, chief executive of salmon producer Camanchaca, told Reuters. "The Chilean salmon go through a detox period before being harvested" and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration "says its inspections since October 2014 of these fish have not turned up any unapproved drug residues," reports Consumerist.
Still, many worry about the larger issue of developing drug-resistant pathogens. "In 2014, a Chilean government report noted antibiotic-resistant strains of SRS turning up in the country’s salmon farms. And they will likely continue to pop up so long as farmers keep using the same antibiotics," says Consumerist.
"The bacteria will respond for a few years to the antibiotics treatment but afterward will become stronger and resistant," Alex Munoz, vice president for South America at Oceana in Chile, told Reuters.
There's also the issue that Chile uses a family of antibiotics in its salmon called quinolones, which "are not approved for use in aquaculture in the U.S. or other countries due their negative effect on the human immune system," according to Oceana, who is working to persuade the Chilean government to ban the antibiotics.
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By Jeff Masters, Ph.D.
Tropical Storm Josephine Also No Threat to Land<p>Meanwhile, the season's record-earliest tenth named storm, Tropical Storm Josephine, was also struggling with high wind shear as it traced out a path over the open ocean.</p><p>At 5 a.m. EDT Saturday, Josephine was located about 310 miles east of the northern Leeward Islands, moving west-northwest at 15 mph with top sustained winds at 45 mph. Josephine is expected to bring one to three inches of rain over portions of the northern Leeward Islands, the Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico over the weekend. Josephine will encounter steadily rising wind shear through Monday, peaking at a very high 30 – 35 knots. This high shear is likely to destroy Josephine's circulation by Monday, before the storm can affect any other land areas.</p><p><em>Reposted with permission from <a href="https://yaleclimateconnections.org/2020/08/tropical-storm-kyle-forms-unlikely-to-affect-land/" target="_blank">Yale Climate Connections</a>. </em><em></em></p>
By Ute Eberle
In May 2017, shells started washing up along the Ligurian coast in Italy. They were small and purple and belonged to a snail called Janthina pallida that is rarely seen on land. But the snails kept coming — so many that entire stretches of the beach turned pastel.
The Ligurian coast has been swept by snails turning its color pastel.
A World Between Worlds<p>The neuston comprises a multitude of weird and wonderful creatures. </p><p>Many, like the Portuguese man-of-war, which paralyzes its prey with venomous tentacles up to 30 meters long, are colored an electric shade of blue, possibly to protect themselves against the sun's UV rays, or as camouflages against predators.</p><p>There are also by-the-wind sailors, flattish creatures that raise chitin shields from the water like sails; slugs known as sea dragons that cling to the water's surface from below with webbed appendages; barnacles that build bubble rafts as big as dinner plates; and the world's only marine insects, a relation of the pond skater.</p><p>They live "between the worlds" of the sea and sky, as Federico Betti, a marine biologist at the University of Genoa, puts it. From below, predators lurk. From above, the sun burns. Winds and waves toss them about. Depending on the weather, their environment may be warm or cool, salty or less so.</p>
Sea snails can make up the neuston.
Velella velella jellyfish living on the surface of the ocean.<p>But now, they face another — manmade — threat from nets designed to catch trash. A project called <a href="https://theoceancleanup.com/" target="_blank">The Ocean Cleanup</a>, run by Dutch inventor Boyan Slat, has raised millions of dollars in donations and sponsorship to deploy long barriers with nets that will drift across the ocean in open loops to sweep up floating garbage. </p>
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Waste collection in the Pacific Ocean heralded by The Ocean Cleanup.<p>The Ocean Cleanup says Helm's concerns are based on "misguided assumptions."</p><p>"It's true that neustonic organisms will be trapped in the barriers," says Gerhard Herndl, professor of Aquatic Biology at the University of Vienna and one of project's scientific advisors. "But these organisms have dangerous lives. They're adapted to high losses because they get washed ashore in storms and they have high reproductive rates. If they didn't, they'd already be extinct."</p><p>Helm says they just don't know how quickly these creatures reproduce, and in any case recovering from passing storm is very different from surviving The Ocean Clean Up's systems which could be in place for years.</p>
Communication Breakdown<p>The Ocean Cleanup invited Helm to a symposium on the topic in December, where both sides presented their points of views and didn't seem to find much common ground. Since then, direct communication between them has stopped, says Helm. "They're not interested in talking to me anymore."</p><p>Both sides agree that much is still unknown about the neuston. But one thing that has been established is that most of the oceans' fish spend part of their lifecycle in the neuston. "More than 90% of marine fish species produce floating eggs that persist on the surface until hatching," Betti says.</p><p>The Ocean Cleanup has undertaken one of the few studies into this ecosystem, collecting data on the neuston on the relative abundance of neuston and floating plastic debris in the eastern North Pacific Ocean during a 2019 expedition to the Pacific Garbage Patch, an area where plastic pollution has accumulated on a vast scale. But it is not yet sharing what it has found. The information was being prepared for publication in an as of yet unspecified journal, probably some time next year, an Ocean Cleanup spokesperson said. </p>
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