Authorities have launched a EUR 5.3 million subsidies scheme to encourage fish farms investments in new environmental technologies.
Last month, it was reported that Denmark’s Environment Minister Lea Wermelin is putting forward two new bills that will put “an end to the expansion of marine production”.
Land-based fish farms
The new law, expected to enter into force on 1 January, will halt increases in the country’s rainbow trout production, which is around 60 per-cent of Denmark’s total aquaculture output.
“The aquatic environment is cramped in several places, but with the right technology that is constantly improving, environmentally friendly fish can be farmed in land-based fish farms, focusing on both purification and recycling of water. This is the path we should take, instead of expanding marine farming at risk to the aquatic environment,” said Lea Wermelin at the time.
SalmonBusiness contacted the Ministry of Environment and Food of Denmark on the 29th of October for a follow up about the new bills to move production to land-based.
A spokesperson from Denmark’s Ministry of Environment and Food said that part of the driving force was the implementation of the EU Water Framework Directive, which sets water quality standards.
“In order for Denmark to meet the obligations under the EU Water Framework Directive, various policies have to be strengthened and adjusted. Since sea-based aquaculture emits nutrients and other pollutants directly into the sea without any treatment possibilities, an increase in sea-based aquaculture production will automatically further increase the pressure on the water environment. Thus, the Danish government is not supporting any further growth in sea-based aquaculture. Simply out of environmental concerns,” said a spokesperson from Denmark’s Ministry of Environment and Food.
The Water Framework Directive is an EU directive that commits all European Union member states to ‘good status’ for all ground and surface waters (rivers, lakes, transitional waters, and coastal waters). The EU has set a target of having 100 per-cent of the EU’s freshwater ecosystems in good health by 2027 at the very latest, up from 40 per-cent currently.
Not close but prevent growth
The spokesperson explained that the aim of the bills is not to close the existing sea-based aquaculture but “rather to prevent further growth in this part of the sector”.
“The first of the two bills removes the possibility of using mussel or seaweed productions as compensation for the nutrition emissions stemming from the sea-based production. In practical terms, this implies, that any new application for new or increased sea-based production will continue to be processed in accordance with the existing regulations, but without the possibility of using the compensation elements. By removing this possibility, the bill will minimise the chances for obtaining approval of such an application. The second bill addresses the identified need for strengthening the administrative procedures by placing the supervision task in a single authority,” the spokesperson added.
Despite many projects around the world in some stage of development, there are no sites that are close to producing Denmark’s total annual output for rainbow trout. The total annual production of rainbow trout is around 45,000 tonnes a year.
Compared to recirculating aquaculture, pork and chicken production appear to be a significantly better alternative for the climate, in terms of producing greenhouse gas emissions, according to a study in Nature.
Is this in line with Denmark’s climate law to cut emissions by 70 per-cent by 2030?
“Regarding the climate impact of land-based fish farming, the Danish government is currently working on a new sustainability strategy for the aquaculture sector. The aim of the strategy is to establish a framework for a green transition of the sector including a strong focus on sustainable land-based fish farming with a low environment and climate impact. In addition to this, the Danish government has recently launched a new DKK 40 million (EUR 5.3 million .ed) subsidies scheme to encourage fish farms investments in new environmental technologies,” said the spokesperson.