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During our foray into the world of Seaweed trawling we’ve had a number of contacts with FMC – both personally through a chat with Ole Damm Kvilhaug who is responsible for FMCs operations here in Norway and second hand through actions my little group has undertaken.
Its almost like fencing – you work at your opponent hoping they will show a weakness.
For a while we concentrated on illegal trawling – we got one prosecution through but any more were heavily thwarted – so we tried overloaded ships – we filmed the trawlers overloaded and went to the Norwegian maritime authorities – yes they said, they do appear overloaded. We were given to believe that there had been an immediate prosecution – the ships were suddenly much less loaded – but that only lasted a little while.
So we filmed the ships again – we were told by the Sjøfartsdirektoratet that they had a visit from FMC and that the quality of our videos were now too poor to pick out any details. As i said fencing.
It brings to mind Monsanto cheerily causing devastation through court rulings against farmers and others – little realizing that it was kicking up a storm of massive proportions – one that is costing them dear.
With all this in mind there is a document produced by the eu on seaweed harvesting problems – essentially i think it says – if you want to start commercial seaweed harvesting and come across any environmental or local governmental problems we will have a team ready that can ease any problems. This is the document –
Here are some snips
I have spoken to a number of colleagues about this and it seems to be a major ramping up of mechanical seaweed harvesting everywhere – roll on – the sooner the damage is visible the sooner it will be stopped. NEVER?
We’ll find out!
We sent Net Algae a question on their question form –
Possibly one of the most influential documents on seaweed harvesting has been produced by the Northern Ireland Environmental health services. The document is an assembly of information from every angle – with a view to enabling the industry, that is a sustainable industry. Apparently this is a very important document for the industry.
It is possible the Norwegian model is based on the idea that there is so much that it is not possible to damage or change the ecology significantly using current harvesting methods – unfortunately historically in other countries this is clearly not true. We note that the intensity of the industry here in mid Norway has considerably slackened in the last few months with greater efforts further north in unharvested areas – the information we have that the plants grow back only so many times appears to be true.
This is a snip from the EHS document
It says quite clearly that MECHANICAL HARVESTING could threaten the marine ecosystem –
Here is the document in full
Many seabird colonies on Norway’s coast are experiencing a massive downfall in population, some as much as 2/3rds – many of these colonies are in areas where seaweed trawling occurs.
The various ornithological organizations we have spoken to say this is due to the ecology being changed by a massive invasion of mackerel – it seems logical to assume that if the habitat for most of the food for the birds is removed, so will the “food ” go elsewhere. In fact the habitat does not even have to be removed for there to be a change in the ecology of the seaweed beds – the plants have a chemical defence against predation – the destruction of some of the plants by dredges would be enough to trigger this.
There is currently a great deal of interest in this matter in Bergens Fylkestingret with questions being asked about who gave permission for trawling in the bird reserves?
Here we can confirm that there is trawling in 97 bird reserves – 35 are open for trawling all the time and the others are supposedly closed during the hatching season.
259148-kongelig_resolusjon_om_taretraling this is the document concerned
and here are some snips
This is the front page with the bird colonies listed
This mentions the 97 bird reserves
http://www.aftenposteninnsikt.no/klimamilj/oppdrettsn-ringen-reddet-av-vannspeilet The way things are done in industry in Norway is usualy direct and no fuss.
Thus we have companies and scientists from the uk finding it easier to install wave energy test equipment here than in the uk because one phone call fixed it.
This is enviable for profit but what is the cost of this type of business to the environment?
Norway’s Government clearly relies on the small population and the difficulty of any organized and linked opposition – strict laws are bent or avoided altogether – so while on paper the country looks fine the reality is very different.
In our fight against FMC corp and in particular FMC health and nutrition the company that is commercially harvesting seaweed on the Norwegian coast, we have had several successful prosecutions – but each time some state organization has tried to stop our actions and protect the company concerned – this includes the police and a number of the state regulatory bodies who should know better. Norway, you should be ashamed about this!!
This article came from a friend in the area – she was very distressed at reading this – and so was i – it is quite unbelievable – but our experience seems to bear this out – something dreadful is being allowed to happen on our coast and it is being largely ignored.
When seaweed dies a natural process of bio degredation begins.
This process naturally produces https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hydrogen_sulfide
among other chemicals. This gas is rated as being of a similar toxicity to cyanide gas.
In other words being near decomposing piles of Seaweed could kill you.
In fact due to the vast influx of seaweed in summer months on the coast of Brittany there has been a recorded death from this very same factor in the last few years – numerous wild and domestic animals have also died.
This is from the Telegraph Newspaper
To be able to handle large amounts of harvested seaweed Formalin has been found to be the only usable chemical capable of preventing the production of this gas. However formalin has problems of its own.
The eec has become so concerned about this chemical that it has produced strict controls of its use – its use in animal feeds for instance will be banned from june 2015.
The main concern is its particular connection with various types of cancer, in particular leukemia.
This from Wikipedia.
To enable the Norwegian alginate industry to function it needs to use a lot of formalin
This is a report of the use of formalin from Fmc in the industry
Essentailly it says that before 2000 Fmc released into the sea over 700 tons of formalin per year – fortunately they now have it under control and the release is down to about 100 tons per year.
Apparently this is the only industry that is allowed to do this.
The building at Smørholm used to store the seaweed looks poor repair – from the outside it looks as if the walls are composed of timbers slotted into place – if there is any proper jointing or plastic lining it is impossible to ascertain from the outside.
One question which has disturbed us considerably is how is the formalin dealt with after use?
Is it washed out and re used? What happens to the waste that must be contaminated with formalin?
How much formalin does the finished alginate contain? Are there any measures for this – has anybody measured this?
We know there are serious health issues associated with carrageenan http://fodmaplife.com/tag/health-issues-with-carrageenan/
Nearly every month there seems to be a new exciting project aimed at seaweed cultivation – perhaps this video may explain why there untimately seems to be so little of it.
It also explains why it is important to have as few animals as possible attaching themselves to the plants – Commercial harvesting on the Norwegian coast is done in such a way as to minimize “fouling” or the attachment of animals, unfortunately this is in wild seaweed forests which cover most of the coast. The effects are very noticeable to those who fish in the zone but so far our polititians have ignored this
Here is a rather long and complicated paper from Imr on Carbon capture and food production in the fjords of Norway.
There is a great deal here that speaks loudly against the destructive harvesting of our seaweed beds, however the most definitive is this snip – essentially it says that an estimated 150 million tons more co2 would be bound up in our ecology if the seaweed forests in the north of our Norway had not been destroyed by sea urchin predation – the 150 million tons would be over a period of 40 years .
This initially is not a attack on the seaweed harvesting industry but a careful look back in time tells a slightly different story.
Verbal history from my colleague in stopptt tells me that he has plenty of people from as far north as the Lofoten islands who tell him that in the early 1980s seaweed dredging was a major activity all the way up the coast.
We have papers clearly revealing that the removal of seaweed – by trawling or other mechanical means leads to the opening up of those areas for population explosions of sea urchins.
So in other words it is entirely possible that the plague of sea urchins costing our fisheries so dear has been brought about by Taretråling – further still if this paper is right then it has led to a significant increase in carbon in the atmosphere.
To cap that there has been recent “test trawling” above Trondheim and islands out to sea with the removal of a declared 30,000 tons of seaweed – this of course would mean a destruction of approximately 5 times that amount because that is the official figure for waste.
So If the plague was introduced by taretråling why in the world is there no investigation and why in the world are they allowed in such a fragile area.
It makes no sense.
This little article is about an investment from Fmc food and nutrition in their plant at Karmøya.
It also gives information on how much the best alginates are worth – we knew they were worth a lot some time ago but this takes our breath clear away – the stated harvest is 5,000 tons plus – the best alginates sell for 3,000 nkr per gram – GRAM
No wonder our polititians are prepared to sacrifice so much – ON OUR BEHALF –
The big question is – is it right to destroy millions of animals for this profit?
worse still to allow and trust an american owned company from a corporation with such an appalling record.
The reason this industry is allowed on the Norwegian coast is because scientists say it is safe.
We can only suppose that this is the case – because we really dont know.
All indications are that it is not.
What we do know is that this industries activities are an experiment – that is insofar as the Norwegian state knows –
what we do know is that FMC biopolymer has more knowledge on how this works worldwide than any government or scientific organization – why?
Because theyve been harvesting and observing worldwide since the 50s.
In that time we know that many countries have had their seaweed beds destroyed by overharvesting. Information is well buried.
We found some from our state run Niva.
Here is the paper concerned
This says that after taretråling – seaweed dredging – 2% of the original animal life is left
Further reading shows puzzlement from the authors as to why FMC health and nutrition needs the entire coast to harvest
when the actual area needed according to the figures is only 87 square kilometers.
We suspect it is to do with the first snip – animal life reduced to 2% of its original. We know that the alginate extract requires minimal animal life and that marine organisms spread from unharvested areas so they are very simply trying to destroy as much animal life as they can – with of course the permission of our politicians and ably abetted by various state run marine protection organizations – this is wholly unacceptable. Essentially it means that millions of animals/seabirds are starving to death because there is no food.
Because harvesting occurs every 4 th year and the animals take between 5 and 9 years to return to their former population levels it is estimated that only 8% of the original life returns.