26 February 2010


I came across a report on Channel 4 News about a plan to open a lobster farm in the TCI. The report indicates that the top person at the DECR (Department of Environment and Coastal Resources) is in support of the idea and enthusiastic that the research is being fully funded by Darden Restaurants (which includes Red Lobster, Olive Garden, and others).

Watch the video here:

The Director is quoted as saying:
The DECR only has one scientific officer responsible for fisheries, so collaborating with Darden saves us money and time and provides us with expertise. I cannot over emphasize the benefits of research. We can ask the scientists to collect information on additional parameters and use the data for modeling the TCI Fishery.

I'm stunned. Did this guy ever question this corporation's motives? The Darden Group has a direct interest in seeing that aquaculture is implemented, so I'm sure we can count on their "scientists" to find that it will have no detrimental impacts on the environment.

Fish farms are notorious for being environmentally disruptive. It's logical to assume that raising captive animals for consumption would be better than catching them in the wild - you are in a sense protecting the "natural" ecosystems by only consuming the captive animals. But these farms have all sorts of problems, such as breeding disease that can affect wild populations, polluting surrounding waters and destroying habitat, and reducing available prey in the wild. This is the case for farmed Salmon and I assume much of it would apply to lobster too.

I won't take the position that lobster farms should not be opened here though. Not without first seeing a study (an honest study) that says it shouldn't be. The current industry is struggling and something needs to be done. There are serious concerns (both social and ecological) for the way things are being done now. The amount of the catch and the size of the lobsters is lower every year, and the South Caicos community is entirely dependent on the fishing industry. If farming could be done with minimal environmental impact and deliver real social benefits to the community, I would be in support of it. But just I don't trust somebody like the Darden Group, which is so blatantly interested in one outcome, to conduct an honest study.

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