Workshop on the Faroes Ecoregion Aquaculture Overview (WKFaroesAO)
The Workshop on the Faroes ecoregion Aquaculture Overview (WKFaroesAO) was established to assemble and synthesize data and information for the Faroes ecoregion aquaculture overview.
Marine aquaculture production within the ecoregion is dominated by Atlantic salmon farming, but seaweed farming is an emerging industry and there are plans to allocate sites for shellfish farming in the near future. Today three fish farming companies produce Atlantic salmon and two companies farm seaweed.
The dominance of salmon farming is also reflected in the aquaculture legislation. The aim of the Faroese legislation on aquaculture is to promote profitability and competitiveness in aqua-culture within a sustainable framework with regards to animal health. In the legislation there is great emphasis on biosecurity, environment, and salmon lice. Management of salmon lice is-sues at aquaculture sites has a direct impact on the production of allowed number of smolt.
Environmental licenses are required for all aquaculture activities. These impose conditions for operations, which are aimed at minimizing pollution from aquaculture production and the impact on the surrounding environment. Aquaculture practices may be ordered to adaptations and implement necessary measures in order to minimize pollution.
The authorities have an IT-system, where all operators are obligated to report fish health and welfare data once a week, such as number of fish, weight, feed use, use of chemicals, mortalities etc. Salmon lice on farmed fish are counted biweekly by a third party and reported via the IT-system no later than one day after counting.
Environmental threats of aquaculture include emissions of dissolved nutrients, particulate organic matter, pollutants, and chemicals. In general, knowledge is scarce on the potential far-field ecosystem effects from aquaculture. Coastal environmental monitoring is connected to monitoring of fish farming activity and there is a need for time-series in order to detect possible environmental changes due to aquaculture and other anthropogenic activities, including climate change.
Since 2012, the aquaculture industry has experienced large profit rates and is now a well consolidated industry able to self-finance most of its investments. Today the aquaculture industry is one of the most important industries on the Faroe Islands, employing around 5 percent of the workforce and providing more than 25 percent of the income of the Faroese balance of payments. The aquaculture industry has large ripple effects on other industries and is a major con-tributor to the public revenue. There is generally a positive attitude towards the aquaculture industry, although there are some public concerns regarding pollution and interactions with wild fisheries.
One of the major developments in the aquaculture industry in recent years has been the large investments into on-land smolt farms to shorten the production time at sea to diminish salmon lice problems. Continuous efforts are also being made with closed systems and moving further offshore.
In future, aquaculture in the ecoregion is likely to diversify both regarding farming low trophic species and diversification in farming methods. There are significant uncertainties related to the effect of climate change on the sector. Evaluating the expected impacts of climate change on the Faroese aquaculture industry should therefore be prioritized and is a prerequisite to enabling the development of climate change adaptation plans for the sector.
Published under the auspices of the following ICES Steering Group or Committee