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Campaigner Attacks Salmon Farm Plans

Salmonids Health Welfare +8 more

CANADA - Anti salmon farm campaigner, Alexandra Morton has launced a new attack on the industry following the siting of a new farm on the coast of British Columbia.

The self trained biologist said the Strathcona Regional District rural directors opened the door to fish farming on the jugular of the B.C. coast.

Every other fish farm has been sited among braided waterways, but this Grieg application is for the biggest fish farm on the B.C. coast to be lodged where 1/3 of all Canadas Pacific salmon pass on their voyage back to us through Johnstone Strait she says.

"Sensing some public opposition to this decision the board did consider the risks and asked Grieg to compromise," Aleandra Morton writes.

"But the concessions Grieg responded with are worthless tradebeads of deception as they are either impossible or irrelevant. The media reports they offer to harvest their fish before the wild salmon migrations, but they know their fish need to be on our ocean for 22 months and ours migrate every 12 months.

"They say they will have zero lice, but they know this is impossible with the drugs we allow in Canada. And they say they will turn off their growlights in the spring, when they never use them anyway. I know the fish farmers and I know the governments, in fact they are often the same people. And most of all I know the fish.

"There are things you cannot know when you are 20, 30, or 40 years. Every second we are alive we draw from deeper pools of experience. I know where this compromise will take us. This is how we got all the fish farms in my home-waters in the first place. Greig did what it took to get past the regional directors. They also told me tourism operators love them, that in Nootka Sound they had consulted with the operators and won their approval, but when I wrote to Nootka Sound tourism operators, the ones who answered not only had not been contacted, they did not like the farms there.

"A Norwegian corporation has become gatekeeper to the Fraser, East Vancouver Island, and south coast Mainland rivers and our fish are their market competitors."

Alexandra Morton adds: "I have tried to bring reason to the BC fish farming industry for 21 years. My community has been lost. The science is done. The courts ruled the way it has been regulated is unconstitutional. The people of the BC coast are aware of the issue now. Wild salmon are failing and sea lice, diseases and massive schools of salmon predators parked in pens every few km along their migration routes are clearly not helping. Anyone who looks can see that. And yet every level of government from federal to regional favours farm salmon over wild salmon. Since this is a democracy I have to assume at this point that BC has made its choice.

"There are many places on this coast that government could play with this risky business, so when I see one of the biggest farm applications ever, being handed B.C.s primary wild salmon artery by the most local, on the ground-level of government I have to think 'this is OK with B.C. This is what B.C. wants'.

"The next day I watched farm smolts pour through a hose from a truck. I could see the Atlantic salmon in the translucent tube swimming above black pavement falling into the farm boat and I thought, 'This is what BC has chosen.'"

In testimony at the 29 May public hearing in Sayward (Grieg Seafood application for new salmon farms at Gunner Point and Yorke Island) Peter Gibson, representing the applicant, states that farm fish would enter the ocean between 15 March and the end of May beginning next year, and that the roughly 22-month long production cycle would be completed with harvesting by 1 March 2012, prior to the annual outmigration of juvenile wild pink and chum salmon.

Unfortunately, completion of harvest by March 1 will not have the desired protective effect for two reasons. First, BC salmon farm regulations forbid the use of chemical therapeutants during the forty-day interval prior to harvest. During that interval, farm fish are large, sea lice proliferate on them, and large numbers of lice larvae are released into the ocean.

Second, during harvest many adult sea lice escape death by detaching from farm hosts; those adults easily remain alive in the ocean for periods over thirty days, some up to 60 days. Therefore, in order to protect outmigrating wild juveniles it is probably necessary to complete the harvest by 1 January at the latest.

In Japan, which also has a large salmon aquaculture industry, transfer of sea lice from farmed salmon to wild chum salmon is effectively reduced by shortening the growing cycle, and by culturing coho (which are much more resistant to sea lice) instead of Atlantic salmon.