Wary of aquaculture industry’s future

Dear Editor:

I believe that aquaculture is not only a great idea but that probably it is a necessity if the world’s burgeoning population’s food demands are to be met.

My big concern is that the industry will become like “big agra.” That is, feed lot beef that is full of chemicals, mass-produced chicken full of chemicals and antibiotics, etc., etc. For about 40 years I have been avoiding eating anything raised this way. I was feeling very unwell and there did not seem to be any reason for this. The docs said I should take a valium and get a job. I could not get a job, I could not think straight. I decided to eat only fresh fish and other seafood and fresh vegetables and fruit. We were not living in a place where I could have some chickens, but I found some a few miles away and we lived “au naturel.” After about two weeks, I felt much better, rashes had cleared up and I had lost about 15 pounds. I know lots of people can now relate to this and want to avoid “chem” disease.

We now live right where the Penobscot River empties into Penobscot Bay, on a cove to the east of the river, called Morse’s Cove. When I was a kid this cove was referred to as “stinky cove” because all the stuff from upriver, paper mills, chemical plants, saw mills and whatever came down river, some of it composted, some became part of the sediment and not all of it made out into the bay. Wind out of the southwest also pushes whatever is coming from down the bay from (west of us) up here and we get a fair share of that. When Belfast had chicken processing plants and sardine canneries, Penobscot Bay and all the inlets got feathers and an oil slick.

When the tide turns, the river has not emptied out totally and whatever is in the offing comes right back into Morse’s Cove before continuing up river. Consequently we have a mercury pollution problem. There are other pollutants down there in the sediment all of which make the clams dangerous to eat and the composting organics are smelly. Morse’s Cove is practically empty at low tide, but never reaIly flushes right through, that is, it does not have an inlet and an overflow, whatever sinks into the mud stays right here.

I do not plan to eat any of the farm-raised fish and I am wondering just how much of what they are fed and medicated with is going to end up in the river, the bay and ultimately the sediment in all the coves and inlets. Farmers went way too far with the chemicals raising beef, pork and poultry; are we going to do the same with fish? I have not been able to find out what they plan to feed the farmed fish and what kind of medications will be necessary to keep disease from overtaking these big fish tanks, or what sort of oversight will be in place. Are we going to let history repeat itself, or are we going to learn from past mistakes and be careful what is used and how much, since it winds up in somebody’s else’s body and down river in the sediment?

Ruth Basile


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