PortandTerminal.com, March 7, 2020
A cargo ship in the Aegean Sea had a steering failure, lost control and struck a fish farm fence. An estimated 2 million fish were released in the accident which took place in Gulluk Bay, southwest Turkey, Aegean Sea. The precise date the incident took place is unknown – sometime late in February.
Incidents such as these, when farmed fish are released into the wild, are called “Genetic Pollution” by scientists. Genetic pollution occurs when wild populations mix with or are affected by genetically modified organisms, such as farmed fish.
For example, farmed salmon are bred to be less aggressive than farmed salmon. When farmed salmon escape into the wild and breed with wild salmon they put the offspring at risk when they inherit their less aggressive parent’s genetics. Less aggressive salmon don’t survive as well in the wild.
In December 2019 an estimated 21,000 Atlantic salmon escaped when from a Vancouver Island fish farm pen that was damaged in a fire.
Scientists in that accident are concerned that the farmed Atlantic salmon could compete for habitat with wild salmon. There are also fears that the farmed fish could spread a sickness called piscine reovirus to wild salmon.
“It’s incredibly problematic to be growing these fish in open-net pens, and then to have them escape,” said Tavish Campbell, an advocate for wild salmon in the region.
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