Rob Walker, director of development for the Middle Bay Sustainable Aquaculture Institute, said the escapes occurred Monday after waves, kicked up by recent storms, snapped off a fastener that secures a waste trap to the bottom of a large bag used to grow chinook.
He said the organization is basing the count of two on reports made by divers and the amount of feed consumed by the chinook after the escape. “It looks like we had a loss of two fish,” said Walker. “It looks like a couple made it out.”
The MBASI is a private, not-for profit aquaculture organization, currently developing a closed-containment system of its own in Campbell River.
The organization has received public support from the Coastal Alliance for Aquaculture Reform, an alliance of nine environmental organizations and First Nations.
CAAR has written letters of support and mentioned the institute on its website.
CARR’s members include the David Suzuki Foundation, Friends of Clayoquot Sound, Georgia Strait Alliance, Living Oceans Society, Musgamagw Tsawataineuk Tribal Council, Raincoast Conservation Society, Raincoast Research, T. Buck Suzuki Environmental Foundation and Watershed Watch Salmon Society.
Currently, the institute is using a 1,000-cubic-metre bag, about 15 metres in diameter, to grow chinook. The bags, which float in the water and are moored to pilings by rope and wire, are manufactured by Nanaimo’s Future SEA Technologies Inc.
Walker said the institute sent down divers around 10 a.m., immediately after it became aware there was a problem with the system. By Tuesday morning, he added, the institute notified the Ministry of Agriculture and Lands.
Walker said while the institute has not counted the remaining fish, it doesn’t believe more than two chinook escaped because of feeding patterns.
Walker said the company plans to have a prototype of its own closed-containment system in the water by the spring of 2008. “It looks like the bags aren’t going to create the solution we’re looking for,” said Ruby Berry, a salmon aquaculture campaigner for the Georgia Strait Alliance, a member of CAAR.