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Fraser River Sockeye not at Risk From Fish Farms

CANADA - Marine Harvest has retaliated to claims that Fraser River sockeye are at risk from salmon farms, saying that their practises ensure that the effects are kept to a minimum.

What Marine Harvest say they do

  • Sea lice numbers on farmed salmon are monitored and managed to minimise possible transfer to wild populations. This work is audited by provincial authorities.
  • BC salmon farms can only be sited in areas where water currents provide optimal conditions for fish well-being and environmental sustainability. This includes avoiding sensitive wild salmon habitat, such as coastal fish spawning and nursery areas.
  • To limit nutrient pollution, salmon farmers employ state-of-the-art feed monitoring systems that use real-time technology, such as underwater cameras and sensors, to detect uneaten feed and adjust feed delivery to the appetite of the salmon.

What you should know about sockeye and other Pacific salmon species-

  • Research shows that, except in their extreme infancy when first leaving their natal rivers, Pacific salmon are resistant to damage from sea lice.
  • Sockeye salmon spend much of the first year of their life in freshwater and have fully developed immune systems by the time they migrate to saltwater.
  • Sockeye fry linger in the Fraser Delta for up to 5 months until they (as underyearlings) emerge from the Fraser River plume in late July. Since wild salmon populations are either collecting in the delta or beginning their migration up the Fraser during this time, these adult wild salmon returns are a likely source of sea lice on juvenile salmon emerging from the river.

As the closest salmon farm is 110 km away from the Fraser River's mouth, there is no opportunity for outmigrating Fraser River salmon fry to come into contact with farmed salmon during the early stages of their life cycle.

Further Reading

- Go to our previous news item on this story by clicking here.
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