A new study published in ICES Journal of Marine Science estimates that that up to 1.5 million farmed Atlantic salmon escape from Norwegian netpens into the wild every year – far more than acknowledged by the industry.
The study was led by Ove T. Skilbrei of the Institute of Marine Research in Bergen, Norway, assisted by researchers at the University of Bergen and the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis in Austria.
The risk is that escaped farmed salmon mate with wild fish, impacting survival rates.
After tagging and simulating some 90,000 escapes in various near-shore and marine environments on the coast of Norway at different times throughout 2005, the researchers followed these fish over the next five years, observing how many were recaptured by fishermen.
According to the study:
[quote]Post-smolts that escaped during their first summer were capable of rapid migration towards the open sea. A small fraction returned to spawn and were recaptured after 1–3 years at sea (0.4%, range 0.0–1.1%). A total of 13% of the post-smolts that escaped during autumn were reported in nearby fisheries during subsequent months, partly because they had grown large enough to be caught in the gillnets used, but more importantly because migratory behaviour diminished towards the end of the year. The mean recapture rate of adult salmon was high after releases in fjords (7 – 33%), lower after coastal releases (4 – 7%), and zero on the outer coast. [/quote]
Based on mathematical probabilities for recapturing escaped fish, the researchers predict that up to 1.5 million farmed fish escape from Norwegian farms each year, evading recapture.
“Importantly, our analysis suggests that the total numbers of post-smolt and adult escapees have been two- to fourfold as high as the numbers reported to the authorities by fish farmers,” the study concludes.
According to a 2008 report by the World Wildlife Fund, escapees can be far ranging – “usually recorded within 500 km of the escape site, but [they] have been recorded up to 2,000 – 4,500 km from the escape/release site.”
An earlier study led by UVic scientist Dr. John Volpe, published in Conservation Biology, also reported that escaped Atlantic salmon (the vast majority of farmed salmon in BC are also non-native Atlantics) have been discovered in more than 80 wild salmon spawning streams (Conservation Biology 14: 899-903).
“Farmed salmon grow very fast, are aggressive, and not as clever as wild salmon when it comes to dealing with predators,” says Professor Matt George of the University of East Anglia, who led a study on the subject released earlier this year.
[quote]These domestic traits are good for producing fish for the table, but not for the stability of wild populations…The problem is that farmed salmon can escape each year in their millions, getting into wild spawning populations, where they can then reproduce and erode wild gene pools, introducing these negative traits.[/quote]
In light of these new statistics from Bergen, the problem may be far more serious than perviously thought – and especially cause for concern with embattled wild salmon populations in places like British Columbia.
Several weeks ago I received reports that salmon in your Skuna Bay farms were dying in large numbers. I visited these farms in Nootka Sound and confirmed the reports were accurate. I wrote a letter to your CEO, Morten Vike asking what the fish are dying of, who made the diagnosis and the actual test results so that I could repeat the tests and verify.
Mr Vike did not answer my questions, instead he went to INTRAFISH and called my “allegations” “utter nonsense.” Mr Vike went on to say there had been an algae bloom and that “the fish in Nootka Sound are healthy.”
One week later, I returned to your farms called Concepcion Point and Williamson and filmed large hoses sucking hundreds of dead salmon out of your pens into rusting dumpsters. They were not “healthy,” they were dead and they were apparently garbage. I wrote to your CEO, Morten Vike a second time, but he has still refused to answer. This makes it appear that Grieg Seafoods is hiding the true reason the salmon in your pens are dying.
Large amounts of dying farmed Atlantic salmon not only present a risk to the wild salmon of Nootka Sound, they also pose a risk to the most important Canadian salmon stock, known as the Fraser Sockeye. Your company is taking the fish that are still alive amongst the dead, rotting fish, trucking them across Vancouver Island and getting them processed on Quadra Island where the outfall pipe pours into the migration route of the Fraser sockeye.
I have co-authored a scientific paper on this outfall pipe and the risk it poses to the wild salmon of western Canada.
You can see the film of the mort suckers and the details at: http://alexandramorton.typepad.com
I recognize that the governments of Canada and British Columbia are weak and ineffective in protecting wild salmon from the impacts of the Norwegian salmon farms that are sitting in every wild salmon migration route of southern BC, but that does not mean the Canadian people feel the same way.
Can you address the citizens of Canada in a manner fitting of a Norwegian company raising Norwegian salmon in the Pacific Ocean and give us the truth about why the salmon in your pens are dying? As you must know it is very unclear in Canada as to who owns the fish in your pens.
I await your reply,
Independent Biologist – See more here
The David Suzuki Foundation and others have run ads over the past decade decrying British Columbia’s open net-cage salmon farm industry. With significant expansion planned for the West Coast, the question remains: Has B.C.’s salmon farm industry improved?
Salmon farming threatens some of the planet’s last remaining viable wild salmon — a keystone species that touches all our coastal ecosystems. The issues in dispute include feed ingredients, disease transmission between farms and wild salmon, bird and marine mammal deaths, pesticide and antibiotic use, and the effects of multiple farms in concentrated areas.
More than 90 per cent of migrating juvenile salmon die before returning to freshwater to spawn, most in the first months after entering the ocean. Pathogens may be a significant factor, although not all specifics about diseases are fully known. Justice Bruce Cohen’s Commission of Inquiry investigating the decline of Fraser River sockeye included pathogen risk — along with habitat loss, predation and contaminant exposure — as a factor in the 2009 sockeye collapse. Disease from salmon farms is one risk to wild salmon that can be controlled.
Salmon-farming shouldn’t be done at the expense of wild salmon. Both wild- and farmed-salmon industries provide fish and create economic activity, but the province’s sports and commercial wild salmon fisheries and marine tourism contribute more to B.C.’s economy and quality of life than salmon farming. Employment, revenue generation and food creation are important, but so are preserving wild salmon and protecting the environment for our children and grandchildren.
Salmon farms dump waste on ocean floor
Aquaculture must stop using the ocean as a free waste-treatment system. Closed-containment — in the ocean or on land — is better at controlling water and removing feces and chemicals like antibiotics and pesticides used for sea lice. One B.C. open net-cage company lost over $200 million in one year because of disease, enough to build 10 closed-containment farms. Yet the industry claims closed alternatives cost too much.
Although the salmon farm industry has decreased pesticide use, improved parasite management and reduced feed waste and wild fish used for feed, it hasn’t eliminated the problems. Continuing threats to wild salmon and the environment prevent us from supporting expansion of the industry or advising people to eat ocean-farmed salmon.
As Justice Cohen said, more federal research into the effects of fish farms on wild salmon stocks is critical. We need to address this research gap, along with the lack of availability and transparency of data from farming operations, before allowing the industry to expand.
Research project zeroes in on aquaculture diseases
A promising partnership between Genome British Columbia, the Pacific Salmon Foundation and Fisheries and Oceans Canada to discover the microbes that may cause disease in B.C.’s wild salmon and hinder their ability to reproduce could provide answers. But those answers don’t yet exist.
The fish farming industry is making efforts. In 2013, a farm in Norway was the first to be certified by the Aquaculture Stewardship Council. Although certification doesn’t fully address the risk to wild salmon, it indicates which farms are best operated and includes requirements to consider cumulative impacts. It is not a signal that the entire industry is free to expand.
Closed-containment: a positive alternative
Closed-containment systems, which have fewer impacts on the environment and wild fish, are also growing. The Namgis First Nation on northeastern Vancouver Island recently starting shipping its first closed-containment “Kuterra” Atlantic salmon to Safeway stores in B.C. and Alberta. The aquaculture industry could also improve environmental performance by producing food such as scallops, mussels, tilapia and seaweed that are a lower risk to the environment and use less feed and chemicals.
Our coastal waters are rich in opportunity. They can contribute to food security and community resilience without open net-cage salmon farms. Unless we chart a sound course, salmon will lose — but so will we, and the bears, eagles and magnificent coastal forests that support so much life.
With contributions from David Suzuki Foundation B.C. and Western Region director-general Jay Ritchlin.
Part 2 of DC Reid’s appeal to Canadian Senator and Olympic hero Nancy Greene Raine, who recently came out in support of a massive increase to open net pen salmon farms on BC’s coast. Read part 1 here.
While Nancy Greene Raine has taken a stance to push in-ocean fish farms, there is a lot of science that she likely does not know. And I doubt she realizes she is taking a stand against wild BC salmon. The bullets from my earlier article are discussed further here, with links for readers to go and read the documents and come to their own conclusions.
Alternate solutions are real and available
Just yesterday, the Namgis First Nation announced it has just changed the entire game for fish farming in BC and around the world. What terrific timing – just as DFO was throwing open our pristine ocean for in-ocean fish farms and their huge environmental damage, land-based Atlantics are now on stream and selling for a premium as an environmentally safe product.
Our aboriginal friends are standing up for wild salmon and our environment. This is one fish farm system that I, Nancy Greene Raine and the citizens of BC can support. Well done Chief Bill Cranmer and the Namgis First Nation, Port McNeill, BC.
Cohen Commission highlighted DFO’s conflict of interest
It would be good for Raine and the other senators to get a more balanced look at the issues than what DFO and fish farms present. Nancy, please look at these issues more closely, and then stand on the side of wild BC salmon.
DFO is conflicted in supporting the industry over wild salmon. In his $26 million Judicial Inquiry, Justice Bruce Cohen told them in bold face recommendation 3 of his 1200 page report, Vol 3, Chapter 2 page 12, that DFO had to be stripped of supporting farmed fish and get on with the priority of protecting wild Pacific salmon:
[quote]The Government of Canada should remove from the Department of Fisheries and Oceans’ mandate the promotion of salmon farming as an industry and farmed salmon as a product.[/quote]
This is clear and unequivocal. Nancy Greene Raine and the other senators on the fish committee need to read what Cohen said. His 75 recommendations are in Volume 3, Chapters 2 and 3.
Governments, scientists and testing are in conflict
Staff and resources circulate from the companies to governments and monitoring systems deal with farms as clients rather than being adversarial like police. Fish farms fund lots of research, conflicting scientists. And Cohen evidence showed clearly that fish farms, governments, both provincial and federal, and scientists are in conflict of interest with one another.
This compared with the other parts of the fishing sectors – sport, commercial, processing – contribute 600% more at $605.5 Million, a full 90% of the contribution to GDP.
When you consider that the commercial sector has dropped 1,400 jobs since fish farms set up shop, and wild salmon are down 50%, this strongly suggests that fish farms don’t result in increased employment at all. Wild salmon disappear and fish farms jobs replace those lost in other sectors.
Let me add that the real number of actual jobs in fish farms is far below the econometric analysis, with its multipliers, suggests. I was astonished to sleuth out there are only 795 actual jobs in BC fish farming. That’s all – nowhere near 6,000 – in fact there are only 13.35% of what they claim.
And, once fish farms set up lighting and feed machines, employment drops, and herring and wild salmon have been lured into the nets at night, some eaten, and some in the presence of disease and the ever-present lice. These are the public’s fish, and they are the ones we care about. Lights out.
Fish farms a net job loser
The Stats BC report says all of aquaculture (including shellfish and other fin fish) provides only 1,700 jobs. Add the loss in the other sectors together, 840 + 240 + 1,400, and the total realistic loss is 2,480 jobs in the rest of the fishing sector. This strongly suggests that fish farm replace jobs they eliminate rather than adding anything to the province’s job numbers. And do remember this is not the actual number of jobs in fish farming – only 795, less than half. We would have more than 300% more jobs in the other parts of the fishing sector if fish farms were eliminated and DFO took substantial action on the Wild Salmon Policy as Cohen told them to.
Fish farms are not about jobs and revenue. They are a boom bust industry. Most importantly, it is the workers who suffer the job losses – the very people Raine seeks to employ. 13,000 to 26,000 workers lost their jobs in Chile circa 2008 from its ISA outbreak (63 workers were killed working at fish farms, too). And what do you do with a quarter billion dead fish? Here in BC, Marine Harvest let staff go just before Christmas a couple of years ago. The problem? A disease called Kudoa, which turns farmed salmon flesh to mush. Marine Harvest lost $12 million last year to Kudoa – in fact, BC has way more of this parasite than Norway.
Farms want expansion without using the space they already have
Fish farms want to expand by 19,140 metric tonnes (mt) right now but they don’t use what they already have, putting out a max of 83,000, even though they have 280,000 mt authorized. They have never used their current capacity, so why do they want more? This does not make sense, unless these will be sold off as quota on a spot market, as they are in Norway at 10 million crowns, or it improves share prices, sometime in the future.
The big fish farm companies say land-based closed-containment can’t be done because of the high cost of land, electricity, etc. This is not true – they just want to continue using the ocean as a free, open sewer. On-land recirculating systems use one tenth of the electricity by using a heat pump. They use less land because fish tanks can be stacked one on top of the other. And the fish are protected from all ocean diseases and their own diseases are isolated from other fish, a huge improvement.
With tank covers, the sewage methane can be collected, used to make electricity or heat, and the excess put back into the grid to make money. Water temperature can be set to maximum growth, unlike the ocean that varies all over the place, hardly ideal. Same with optimal photo-period. The sewage can grow hydroponic vegetables for cash. Or be composted and sold for cash.
Recirculating the water saves up to 98% of it. Putting in a current makes the fish line up and thus more fish can be put in the tank, making even more money. In fact, I have a list of 66 different on-land systems comprising more than 8,100 on-land fish farms around the world.
In-ocean fish farms are old-tech dinosaurs compared with on-land systems. See my list. The last major conference on closed containment was held in Shepherdstown, Virginia, in September, 2013. Tides Canada has the more than 50 presentations here. Even Norway, where the BC industry is from, is doing closed-containment studies, for Pete’s sake.
Fish farms dump sewage costs on public, environment
And the senators want to triple the size of the industry? Nobody wants to pay for the current sewage dumped into our ocean, let alone triple the tripled cost of fish farm sewage. I have looked at sewage treatment in North America and Europe, and it’s clear that no one wants to pay a bean for anyone else’s sewage. Why would we pay for fish?
Fish farms produce more sewage than the entire human populations of many countries, Scotland and Norway included. It’s pretty even in BC, too.
Fish farms kill seals, sea lions and other animals
My estimate for sea lions killed by the fish farm industry is 11,469 up to 2011 – at least the ones they count. Greene may not know that many of these sentient creatures drown and realize they are drowning when they are caught in the nets. The rest are humanely dispatched with a bullet through the head – if you think that’s humane.
And in Skuna Bay, where Norwegian giant Grieg tries on the “we are sustainable, organic” spin, 65 sea lions were killed and they got a fine for so doing of $100,000. So a sea lion is worth $1,538 to DFO and fish farms. Many would say that should have been the day all fish farms came out of the water. And, get this, they don’t count otters, seagulls, eagles and so on. Watch this seagull die in a fish farm net.
DFO’s own report shows that harbour seals are basically extirpated where there are fish farms. As seals don’t migrate more than 10 km, when the kill stats go down, it means local extinction, not ‘nuisance’ seals moving on and fish farms not killing as many – you cannot kill what you have already killed.
There are several dozen fungal, microbial and viral diseases. Because the fish are packed together, which stresses them, cortisone is released, which is an immune system depressant. They then pick up any old infection and among the million fish, it gets reproduced so many times that it changes to a virulent strain and the fish die. Then taxpayers pay for them – $5.56 million for dead diseased fish in BC last year – $50 million across Canada, last year. Government paid $135 million of our tax money on the east coast since 1990. We don’t want to pay.
But we do care about wild fish. Here is an example: Dr. Kristi Miller, on the Cohen record, showed that 25% of farmed chinook in Clayoquot Sound had both HSMI and ISA (both are Norwegian diseases that should not be in the North Pacific – DFO let them in on eggs). That is roughly 125,000 per farm. There are 22 farms in Clayoquot Sound, and it is a UN biosphere reserve.
How many wild fish are there? DFO’s number is a pitiful 501 chinook in six streams in 2012 and the Kennedy Lake sockeye run was wiped out in the early nineties and has not come back. Little wonder why. Same outcome for those Owikeno sockeye in Rivers Inlet, where the first two ISA positives for wild sockeye fry came from.
In Chile, ISA resulted in Cermaq reportedly losing $323 million, while Marine Harvest lost 1.4 billion Euros. A quarter of a billion dead salmon. ISA is only one disease. There is also IHN IPN, kudoa, SLV PRV, HSMI. The list goes on.
Cohen on fish diseases
When the two Routledge Owikeno sockeye fry came back with a weak positive, and inconclusive from the Gagnon lab in Moncton; with a positive, with more work needed from Dr. Are Nylund in Norway; and, a positive on the same fry From Dr. Fred Kibenge in PEI, DFO and the CFIA were rocked.
Then, thankfully, someone leaked a DFO report – the Kibenge report – showing ISA in BC waters. DFO saddled Cohen with 500,000 documents but missed its own report on the worst fish farm disease – they considered all results for ISA were false positives – but should have sent the document to Cohen anyway. They did not.
Incidentally, Minister Ashfield, changed the Gagnon finding to negative – perhaps on the semantic issue of having a virus does not mean having a disease. In other words he mis-spoke, saying something he knew not to be true. He should have reported his own lab’s words, and DFO ignores, in public, the Miller evidence and the two world class labs of Nylund and Kibenge, finding the same thing.
BC is no place for fish farms
Here is the point: the North Pacific is the worst place in the world to have fish farms. That is because there are 10 species of wild salmonids from California, up through BC, Alaska and all the way down the west north Pacific shore to Korea, perhaps a billion fish. Fish farms should not have been let in the water here as now all those wild fish could be lost. More fish farms means Greene’s support could help result in the biggest manmade fish disaster in history.
In Chile, they use antibiotics by the tonne, literally. During the climax of the ISA crisis in 2007, the industry used 385.6 metric tonnes of antibiotics. In 2010 that fell to 143; and in 2012 it climbed again to 337.9.
To put such use in perspective, that is: 743,380 pounds of antibiotics. Disease follows fish farms. ISA has pretty much been constant in Norway since the industry fish changed a freshwater ISA virus to a virulent saltwater form in the 1980s. If you read global fish farm news, you find that Chile is on the edge of another ISA disaster which they don’t report on much – remember those strict laws, well, they tend not to mention those in the same breath as the reports of ISA come in – but the antibiotic use is the evidence of tonnes of disease.
Global public opposition
There comes a point everywhere in the world when the people realize fish farms kill wild fish, trash the ocean and the people want them out of the water. This has happened in BC, NS, NB, Scotland, Ireland, Norway itself, the Faroe Islands and will, shortly, in the USA, in Maine. In Denmark they have already moved 50% of fish farms onto land. I just received a request for my research from a newspaper in Tasmania, Australia.
We need – and our wild BC salmon and all the species that depend on them – need us to get fish farms out of the water. If they want to set up shop on land and control their problems, that’s fine; if they want to go home that would be better. The Norwegian coast, is like BC, with long fjords, and the genetic damage has ruined the wild Atlantic salmon in rivers. The sewage is so bad it is more than all the people in Norway. Just as it is in Scotland and pretty much in BC.
In fact, the public being against fish farms has become a global movement with citizens reaching out to find each other around the world and become better informed. This is how I found out that in Atlantic Canada taxpayers paid $135 Million to fish farms for their dead diseased fish – including BC, the past year’s payment was over $50 million. No one wants to pay a dime of our tax money on fish farms that kill their fish with disease caused by too high density. They need to be on land. And the bigger the farms, the bigger the problem,
In the first week in April, 2014 Marine Harvest in Norway announced that it was forgoing putting in smolts because it feared a full $4 billion loss with all the fish dying from sea lice. This article was pulled from the internet in less than a week (I know because I query other people who follow global fish farm news and they confirmed this); then CEO Aarskog announced that sea lice were the biggest problem in Norway, and for anybody with a solution to get in touch with him asap. This is right now in 2014, the CEO of Marine Harvest, the same Marine Harvest that operates in BC in 2014, right now.
In Norway, sea lice are resistant to lice chemicals and it lobbied the EU to accept an endosulfan limit in fish that is one hundred times higher than before. And the PCB, dioxin, and PCB-like cancer causing chemicals, level is also a factor of ten above all other meat type products in Europe. See the graph – it is not pretty.
Back in Canada, in Nova Scotia, Cooke Aquaculture was caught using the illegal lice chemical, cypermethrin, for two years. When the news hit – facing a $33 million fine and up to 99 years in jail – Cooke said it wanted to study the case evidence, and within a few months of silence, the NS government gave Cooke $25 million for aid.
After receiving the $25 million, Cooke ultimately paid a $500,000 fine from Kelly Cove farms for using illegal chemicals for two years. This kind of behavior, and money from government, is all too common in fish farming in Canada. Read on.
Cermaq sees big losses in Chile
But first, in Chile, Cermaq lost 15% of its Atlantic salmon crop to lice in 2012-13. And Chile is openly acknowledged as the dirtiest fish farm country in the world – increasingly moving south to operate largely within the pristine Patagonia UN biospheres. In main production areas to the north, the limiting factors are: disease, lice and fish farm pollution. When production hits 650,000 mt, no more fish can be grown because ‘nature’ kills them all.
At its peak level of 650,000 mt that means they lose more than the entire harvest, and largest output ever recorded in BC, to lice. That is how bad sea lice problems are. But the people of BC don’t really care about fish farm fish deaths – we care about wild salmonids, and there are 10 species that can be killed by lice – and other non-salmonids like herring.
Chemical restriction gutted for BC farms
So what is happening in BC? Here, DFO has announced that it will drop from the already environmentally gutted Fisheries Act, S 36 – for releasing deleterious substances into water – to give the fish farms the right to try any chemical they want.
The annual Norwegian cost to treat sea lice is $170 million and world wide over $300 million. Cypermethrin kills lobsters – and that was how it was determined that Cooke had been illegally using it in its Kelly Cove farms – as well as other crustaceans, for example, crab and shrimp. Krill, shrimp-like crustaceans, are the step above plankton in the wild salmon food chain in BC. We don’t want them killed.
Do note that the article shows that cypermethrin causes gene mutation, organ abnormalities and cancers in mammals. The chemical is suspected to be carcinogenic in humans.
The strictest laws in the world?
You will find that governments and fish farms around the world repeatedly use the phrase: ‘fish farms operate under the strictest (or among the strictest) environmental laws in the world’ in the country in question, (when anyone complains about their environmental damage). The claim is not true because, in the past year, fish farms have said this in Chile, Scotland, Norway and Canada. As the laws are different in each country, the claim cannot be true.
And, of course, Chile is acknowledged as the dirtiest fish farm country in the world, euphemistically referred to as having ‘sanitary problems’. Not to mention that it may have laws, but that is a different thing from enforcing the laws. For example, read fish farm news in Chile and you will find, that though its chemical use is high, Chile does not report most cases of ISA.
In Canada, the claim is even more untrue because the laws don’t apply all the way across the country. There are different jurisdictions operative on the west coast and on the east coast, both federal and provincial.
Furthermore, in Canada, the claim is more untrue because the Fisheries Act and the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act were both gutted a year ago in a federal omnibus bill (an egregious occurrence in itself). But it is even worse than this.
Minister Shea and the DFO ADMs state in the senate video noted in this article, that S 36 of the Fisheries Act, already gutted a year ago, will be further gutted so that fish farms will be able to use whatever deleterious substances they want – say, SLICE, cypermethrin, endosulfan, hydrogen peroxide – on lice and for other reasons.
Norway want laws to ‘deal with Aboriginals in Canada’
And there has been a call for an Aquaculture Act, presumably to eliminate the provincial laws, further weaken laws against the use of chemicals and permit fish farms to use the ocean as a free open sewer, as they do now around the world. Here’s another Canadian nuance: from time to time you will see the Norwegian CEOs saying in the press that there need to be rules to deal with aboriginals in Canada, meaning they don’t want to have to deal with each individual First Nation. They want them rounded up, I suppose.
Industry wants laws gutted even further
There is another issue: as soon as fish farms claim the laws are the strictest in the world, they then use that as an excuse to argue that the laws are too strict and to keep jobs and revenue in the country in a competitive world, the laws need to be relaxed. Or they will move on, which they do anyway because fish farms are a boom and bust industry. Marine Harvest operates in 22 countries, and disease takes one third to one half of all aquaculture animals, as noted above in the Kibenge presentation.
And as I have said, the enforcement staff in BC are swamped with duties and few in number. I may see one every five years or so in the field. And, of course, laying off scientists means that other duties with respect to fish farms also do not get done.
Advice for Senator Greene Raine
I suggest that someone who knows Nancy Greene Raine sit her down and tell her that it is wrong to stand against wild BC salmon. And her name is going to be badly tarnished by associating herself with fish farms.She should be on the side of these up to 90% of sockeye dying from PRV on some Fraser tributary spawning beds, too diseased to spawn. Ask DFO to stand by wild BC salmon, and eliminate fish farms from our pristine waters. They sure don’t stand by wild BC salmon right now in 2014.
As BC’s First Nations are showing with their on-land, closed-containment operation, there is a better way.
We want fish farms out of our pristine ocean and put on land, or they can go back to Norway. More than 100,000 British Columbians have signed a petition urging Premier Clark to refuse any expansion leases in BC.
I doubt Nancy Greene Raine knew this and probably needs time to gather independent information and think things over. As it is, she is out of step with the entire province. And I doubt she has considered how soiled her name will become if she gets on the fish farm side of this issue rather than standing with wild BC salmon.
Fish farms tied to wild salmon die-off
There are only 50% of wild salmon left in BC since fish farms set up shop here. Does she want to be the name associated with the loss of wild salmon? I wouldn’t think so. This is the science.
In all fairness, I think she, and the other senators on the committee are just innocents and believe what DFO and fish farms tell them about jobs and revenue, rather than looking at the science themselves. See Gail Shea talk to the senators, Feb 25, 2014.
Jobs over science, environment
In the senate video, the three DFO ADMs make the case that the only thing that stands in the way of expanding the fish farm industry, is that the regulations on sea lice drugs need to be rationalized. And the Senators agree there should be nothing in the way of new jobs and revenue.
It also came clear that Swerdfager/Beven/Gillis have little knowledge of BC salmon. They suggest salmon are milling about in the ocean in any old place and when it comes to spawning time, they go to any old river. Only someone in Ottawa could be so out of touch – too bad it is DFO. And they ignore the many problems with fish farms.
Thriving salmon run doesn’t pass by fish farms
For the record, salmon have set out-travel routes, grid like precision in the open ocean where they feed and set return-routes, and they not only come back to the same river, but spawn within 100 yards of where they hatched. And so on with succeeding generations.
That is why, for instance, that the Harrison component of the 100 subcomponent Fraser sockeye run is coming back in record numbers. Historically they returned at about 38,000, but now are nearing 400,000. This is because, unlike other Fraser sub-components, they migrate out to sea through Juan de Fuca Strait where there are no fish farms, rather than Johnstone where there are. They don’t get killed by fish farm diseases, or lice and ocean survival has been good.
I took the bait too…until I read the science
Now, back to Swerdfager et al. They suggest the only wrinkle is that lice chemical thing, and the senators agreed – it’s about jobs after all. But the ADMs didn’t let on that the Harper Government has already gutted the Fisheries Act and the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act and let go 200 scientists, many in BC. And they didn’t say what a huge problem that sea lice really are. The most recent example of many is Norway where lice are so resistant to pesticides, SLICE etc., that chemical use has gone up 80-fold in a decade. That’s how bad lice can be.
To be fair to Nancy Greene, in the beginning, I thought saving wild salmon in the ocean and feeding a hungry world sounded good, too. But then I started finding holes in the arguments. Instead of saving wild salmon, the science shows that fish farms kill them. And fish farm salmon will never feed a hungry world. That is because they cost too much, and can only be sold to first world consumers. In fact, in Chile, the industry destroyed the small fish in the ocean such as anchovies and jack mackerel, to feed their fish.
Farmed salmon gobble up other fish species
The anchovy should have been the protein for the poor mouths of the world, say Chileans, but they were fed to fish farm fish. Today, fish farms say they are moving on to ‘improve’ their feed, but do not acknowledge their role as important contributors to the massive declines – in other words they have no choice but to move on from fish-based feed. Today, boats are scouring the Antarctica, and down the food chain to catch krill for fish feed, if you can believe it. And off Chile the Asian fish farms are still scooping up what wild fish remain and taking them to Asian fish farms, largely prawns – the only industry dirtier than Chile’s fish farms. Read global news on www.thefishsite.com, for a while.
A deceptive industry
I am a citizen of BC and make no money out of this, but I became aghast at the deceptiveness and intransigence of fish farms around the world. I realized how bad fish farm companies were when I read an article on how they neutralized an article by Albany, New York, scientists – Hites et al, in Science, January 9, 2004 – on the cancer causing chemicals in farmed salmon – PCBs, dioxins, POPs and so on.
The article reads like a Hollywood movie, and it came clear to me that every claim fish farms make has to be ground proofed. Read this Spinwatch article. It leaves you feeling you would not have believed corporate citizens could sink so low. See if they don’t remind you of tobacco CEOs.
Farmed salmon and chemicals
And just so that you know, the Hites group has gone on to publish many more articles on chemicals in farmed salmon in the decade since. It’s become world news. In fact, the biggest story out of Norway, where the BC industry is from, in the past year, is doctors and scientists repeatedly warning Norwegians not to eat farmed salmon, particularly women, pregnant women, and children, because of the chemicals in the fish. For a collection of these articles, see here. Cancer causing PCBs, for example, take more than 50 years to be washed from the body.
So farmed fish is full of many kinds of chemicals, the cancer causing ones from feed, then SLICE, endosulfan and a host of other pesticides and antibiotics. The cancer causing chemical problem is currently causing big problems for the Scotland industry – they tried to maintain the fiction they were sustainable and organic. If they said it long enough perhaps people would believe it.
Closed-containment is the answer
The solution to this and most other problems is and has always been taking the farms out of the water and growing the fish on land in closed containers, like the Namgis project on Vancouver Island. I don’t think Raine has much acquaintance with the real problems, so here is a list I will send to her. You might want to contact her too: email@example.com.
DFO is conflicted with fish farms.
The Cohen Commission told the Harper government to remove the conflict and make DFO get on with saving wild salmon.
Fish farms are not about jobs and revenue. They are a net negative to the economy.
Fish feed has cancer causing, and other chemicals in it.
Diseases kill one third to one half of all aquaculture products around the globe.
Wild salmon decline more than 50% where fish farms are introduced around the world.
Fish farms already have triple the capacity than what they use in BC. They do not need expansions.
On land fish farms solve virtually all problems of in-ocean open-net fish farms.
Fish farm sewage costs are astronomical and no one wants to pay for them.
Fish farms kill seals, sea lions and other animals around the globe.
Cohen Commission reconvened over fish farm diseases, when ISA was demonstrated in wild salmon.
Aquatic animal disease is part and parcel of aquaculture.
Scientists and doctors tell Norwegians not to eat farmed salmon because of the chemicals in them.
Public opposition to in-ocean fish farms is growing around the world.
Sea lice chemical use grows dramatically.
Governments and fish farms like to claim they operate under the strictest laws in the world, which is not true, and then fish farms push for weakening the laws.
Tune in for my next article that discusses these negative impacts of fish farms.
I registered the first Environmental Petition (a protocol, not list of names) on the Cohen Report with the federal Auditor General late last fall, and have received the first reply from Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO). My request was specific, technical, and DFO was required to respond in 120 days – and it did! – on the last day, March 26, 2014.
Here is what I asked:
[quote]1. It is one year since the $26.4 Million Cohen Commission on Decline of Fraser River Sockeye delivered its report to DFO. One year later, I would like to know: What concrete results, and detail them individually, with associated timelines and funding that DFO has committed or expensed to resolve each of the 75 environmental recommendations in the three volume Cohen Report on the Decline of Fraser River Sockeye. The recommendations are pages 105 – 115, of Volume 3. I am speaking of the boldfaced recommendations and the concrete results DFO has taken to achieve each of the 75 recommendations that can also be found in a Cohen PDF of Chapter 2, Volume Three.[/quote]
You will note the important phrase: concrete resultsand the specifics in red above. I asked for concrete details, concrete funding commitments, concrete numbers of people committed, timelines achieved and individual responses to each and every Cohen recommendation. All 75.
It is non-specific mush designed to anaesthetize and give the impression of a potentially plausible positive possibility, while committing, not so much. I used to work for government and it was my job to generate the same milquetoast so everyone got the same story every single time.
So in ‘themes’, here are Gail Shea’s first words:
Related to Recommendations 1, 2 and 3
The roles and responsibilities of the Minister and the Department of Fisheries and Oceans with respect to decisions related to fisheries management and fish habitat within federal jurisdiction are clearly communicated to First Nations, other governments and stakeholders. This includes making conservation the first priority in the delivery of regulatory responsibilities.[/quote]
Really? Sorry, Gail, but on recommendations 1, 2 and 3, Cohen says that the weakening of the Fisheries Act and the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, removed a lot of the DFO minister’s ultimate authority (Volume 3, Chapter 3). I would add that if ‘conservation’, was a primary concern, DFO would have taken fish farms out of the water a long time ago.
Justice Cohen: Harper govt weakened fish protections
Cohen goes on to say the ‘omnibus’ bill changes weakened habitat restoration… and even if it hadn’t that DFO doesn’t have the money and people to do much, even though its Wild Salmon Policy says it must. Cohen notes that in seven years since generating the policy, DFO has gotten nowhere on implementation. Testifying, the western director could not confirm any action in the next 2 to five years, as in, the Wild Salmon Policy is off the table, even though Shea says it is not.
In the inconvenient evidence – Cohen evidence is that rare text where once on the record, it is there as incontrovertible fact forever – Cohen notes, among other things, that changes to the Fisheries Act took it from being very strong legislation for environmental protection for salmon and made it the weakest legislation.
DFO’s conflict of interest
Furthermore, DFO has (Volume 3, Chapter 2, P 11) internal confusion on doing conservation work. And its Science Branch spends too much time and resources on clients like the Canadian Food Inspection Agency that have no conservation need. So the legislation is bad, the money is bad, and the focus is bad.
Furthermore, he said DFO should not put any fish farm in the water – nor leave any farm in the sea – if it can’t eliminate risks to wild salmon beforehand. The task falls to that confused, poorly funded Science Branch.
Aquaculture industry nets tax dollars for dead, diseased fish
You may recall that in Clayoquot Sound there are 22 fish farms. We, the taxpayer, paid Norwegian derivative fish farms $5.56 million for their dead diseased fish last year in BC (over $50 Million across Canada). Near Tofino, there are only 501 wild chinook left in six streams and the Kennedy Lake sockeye run has been wiped out. This is where Dr. Kristi Miller found 25% of farmed chinook had the killer diseases ISA and HSMI. Little wonder there are no wild salmon left.
DFO likes to say it is following Cohen – that fish farm ‘moratorium’ in the Discovery Islands, for example – but it does not come clean that it set his terms of reference and limited him to only one species of salmon in only one river, the Fraser. What this means is that his report should be taken as applying to all of BC.
Cohen zeroes in on fish farms
In Cohen’s complete list of 75 recommendations, the first 22 regard fish farms, that’s how big a problem he considers them. And Shea has not instituted the western director general Cohen called for to cover wild salmon and habitat restoration. The rest of her answers are the same bland stuff that we spent $26 Million to get. Wild BC salmon deserve more.
The response to the Cohen Report in DFO’s Ottawa is zero, but in BC it is huge. The petition against allowing any new fish farms or expansions has been signed by more than 100,000 citizens. The people of BC have spoken – get the farms out of the water. The petition is going to Christy Clark who can prevent or eliminate fish farms by refusing or eliminating leases – in only sixty days. It’s that simple.
But 100,000 signatures is big time support for getting fish farms out of the water and sending them back to Norway – we the people of BC don’t want them. And DFO’s interest is hard to fathom. Perhaps it believes its own mantra that fish farms mean jobs and revenue. Well, its own report, put out by BC Stats, shows there is not much of either in BC, with only $61.9 million contribution to GPP from all parts of aquaculture, and only 1,700 jobs in all.
By comparison, the rest of the fishing sector – sport, processing and commercial – is ten times that size, with more than 90% of the sector’s $667.4 million toward GPP; and jobs are 87.8% of the 13,900 total. Fish farms are about 10%.
When you factor in that with wild salmon numbers down by 50% since fish farms set up shop in BC, those small number of jobs aren’t new, they simply replace jobs eliminated in other sectors. The commercial guys, for instance, are down 50% at 1400 jobs or nearly 83% of those fish farm jobs. They would like them back.
Environmental, economic cost of fish farms
It’s actually worse than it looks, and that’s pretty bad. I ferreted out there are only 795 actual jobs in fish farming. So it’s simply not true there are jobs and revenue in fish farms. It’s just not true. But don’t be mistaken, the cost to us is huge. The cost DFO doesn’t pay attention to – but we have to – is the sewage cost to our pristine ocean.
And just so you know, the industry already has in place a maximum of 280,000 metric tonnes of production. So why are they asking for more, when they have never produced more than 83,000 and could produce more than three times more than they actually do produce right now? Good question.
DFO’s fishy math
DFO’s numbers are: 83,000 annual metric tonnes of product; 19,140 metric tonnes of new fish farms; and, fish are 4.5 kg at harvest. And as we all know, the cost of treating sewage is huge. Why, in Victoria, the bill, as everyone knows is $783 million for 360,000 people. And that’s just building it.
The commonly accepted number of fish in the sewage department is: 3–10 fish equal the sewage of one human being. Hard to believe, but check it on Google. And our cost that we absorb and thus pay for, using the conservative 10 to 1 ratio, is:
1000/4.5 X 19,140 = 4.25 million/10 = .425 million human equivalents
$783/.36 = $X/.425 = $924 million.
So not only are multiplier jobs down, and the actual number of jobs is very very small, but the cost to British Columbians from expansion (when they don’t need it because they already have triple authorized more than what they produce now) is: $924 million in sewage cost alone. Do you want to pay for this?
Time to dump costly farms
My look around shows me the biggest problem encountered in treating sewage is that no one wants to pay a bean of anyone else’s sewage treatment cost. So why would we pay for fish, that aren’t even human? I don’t think so.
And then there are all the rest of the problems: exotic diseases like HSMI, ISA; killing of seals; reduction of oceans of fish that people should eat – even krill in Antarctica if you can believe it; killing wild salmon; and, chemicals in the fish. So many chemicals that the big news out of Norway the past year is that doctors and scientists are warning people not to eat farmed salmon.
Tell Christy Clark – firstname.lastname@example.org – to send farms back to Norway. We want DFO to work only on wild salmon. And let’s have the same $400 million DFO’s Gail Shea put into aquaculture on the east coast in NL and PEI spent on wild salmon here. But let’s get rid of the sewage first. No one wants to pay for anyone else’s shit. Tell Gail: Min@dfo-mpo.gc.ca.
Read this Feb. 26 story from the Irish Examineron the battle over open net pen salmon farms that has now reached the European Commission, with allegations of a buried report highlighting serious risks to wild fish from industrial feed lots.
A full-scale war under way between the Department of Agriculture and the Inland Fisheries Ireland is likely to determine the fate of Europe’s biggest fish farm planned for Galway Bay.
The European Commission is investigating why it did not receive a scientific report from the Department which showed the amount of sea lice likely to come from such a farm could devastate much of the country’s wild salmon and trout.
This report was drawn up by Inland Fisheries Ireland, responsible for protecting and developing inland fisheries and sea angling and protecting wild salmon under the EU’s Habitats Directive.
Instead, the Department sent a different study from another state agency, the Marine Institute, that said the danger would be small: about 1% compared with the 39% suggested by the Inland Fisheries report.
The Ombudsman is also investigating the issue and was told by the Department that the Inland Fisheries report had many inaccuracies and fundamental errors and that it “would have had disastrous results for Ireland’s reputation” had they sent it to the Commission.
They put forward a report from the Marine Institute, which provides scientific advice to the Department, and which painted a very different picture, suggesting the danger from such a farm would be small.
However, this report was questioned by four independent scientists when published in Journal of Fish Diseases, forcing the head of the Institute, Dr Peter Heffernan, to defend the work, saying the scientists had not considered the entire study.
The European Commission has reopened its investigation of the matter having received the Inland Fisheries study. Their spokesperson said they were investigating, but had just received the Department’s response on Monday and needed time to assess it.
Friends of the Irish Environment (FIE) want the issue of the Galway Bay farm investigated, saying the environmental impact study was largely based on the Marine Institute’s report, while the report from the body responsible for wild fish conservation, Inland Fisheries, was sidelined.
CAMPBELL RIVER, Canada – The federal government is giving $21,000 to British Columbia salmon farmers to research best practices around the world, more than a year after a $26-million public inquiry made a litany of recommendations.
Conservative MP John Duncan says the funds will allow the B.C. Salmon Farmers Association to review international standards and practices in fish farming in order to identify potential improvements in the province.
The association will then develop a plan for the B.C.’s farmed salmon industry to maintain world-leading standards.
But critics says the federal government has done little to implement the measures already identified by the federal public inquiry into the collapse of the Fraser River sockeye run in 2009.
The Cohen commission made 75 recommendations in its October 2012 report, which raised questions about the effects on wild salmon from salmon farming in nets in the open ocean.
Duncan says the funds will help the B.C. fish farming industry improve confidence in its products, attract investment and increase exports.
I now have reliable figures on slaughtered fish payments of your taxpayer dollars to billion dollar Norwegian derivative fish farms in BC, and others across Canada. Cermaq Mainstream, Marine Harvest and Grieg Seafood may be happy to hear I will eat some crow, as the BC figures are much lower than my earlier estimate.
The reason for having to make estimates is that fish farms typically do their best to prevent the public knowing how much taxpayer money they receive from us for diseased fish that foul our pristine oceans. Behind the scenes, they often have lawyers trying to keep such numbers, and in the BC case, the disease records for testing of their farms, from the public, as happened during the Cohen Commission. He didn’t buy it.
Industry injunction kept taxpayer subsidies from public
In this case, a fish farm legal injunction made my request wait 10 months before our taxpayer dollars were put in a table and sent to me. My estimate of $35 million in BC is incorrect. The payments to Cermaq Mainstream’s IHN diseased Clayoquot Sound farmed salmon are: $2.64 Million for 959,498 diseased salmon (report date: Nov 2012); and, $201,000 for infected equipment and supplies (report date: Jan 2013). The total is $2.8 Million, or $3 per fish, not $30 per fish.
What has not made much news is that the Grieg Seafood open net operation in Sechelt also received payment for slaughtered IHN diseased fish: $1.61 Million for 312,032 diseased salmon (report date: Nov 2012); and, $152,000 for infected equipment and supplies (2013), or $5.60 per diseased salmon.
Aquaculture industry in Canada nets $50 million public dollars
Here’s the bottom line: in little more than a year, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency paid fish farms almost $50 Million taxpayer dollars for diseased slaughtered fish across Canada.
You see, in addition to the figures I received, I noticed the St. John’s Telegram newspaper reported $33 Million of taxpayer money given to fish farms in Atlantic Canada for slaughtered diseased fish. Their table shows a bunch of handouts pretty close to the often-quoted CFIA $30 per fish.
Some East Coast farms get over $20 per dead fish
In July 2013, Manuel’s Arm, a Kelly Cove Salmon farm, was paid $23.96 per fish for 100,000 diseased fish, and its Pot Harbour/Hermitage Bay site was paid $8,232,000, or $23.52 per fish for 350,000 diseased fish in December 2012. In fact, the big story from the east is that at the same time fish are dying of ISA and other diseases and we’re paying for it, DFO is giving NL almost $400 million more taxpayer money to put in more open-net fish farms! What a waste. And one of the firms we gave money to, Gray Aqua, has been sliding in and out of bankruptcy proceedings since last summer.
The reasonable British Columbian has to ask: where is the money for BC’s wild salmon? We want $400 Million for habitat restoration. What is DFO actually spending here? DFO’s community habitat program for Vancouver Island is so small it is almost non-existent: $200,000. For all of BC it is $.9 M this year or .45% of the NL money. DFO: we want $400 Million for wild salmon here. Not simply the $1.8 M salmon licence money given to the Pacific Salmon Foundation, where the $400 M should go so BC once again takes control of its own fish with a made-in-BC program.
Solution lies in closed-containment
The real solution to fish farms is to get the old-tech dinosaurs out of the water, which the BC government can do in 60 days by cancelling leases. Even though fish farms say it can’t be done, I have a list of 65 different closed systems comprising more than 8,000 actual on-land farms around the world.
The most recent symposium on closed containment was in Virginia this past September. Tides Canada maintains a link to the plus fifty presentations. They are even doing closed containment science in Norway, for Pete’s sake.
You may wonder why DFO backs in-ocean fish farms in BC at all. I sure do. And we all remember the Cohen Report recommended DFO be stripped of this conflict of interest and deal solely with wild salmon – the 2005 Wild Salmon Policy and 1986 Habitat Policy, with a new west coast director general for bringing back Fraser sockeye. None of these have happened since Report date of October 31, 2012.
Jobs, public revenue from salmon farms overstated
It’s hard to fathom DFO’s interest in fish farms. Perhaps they believe what they and fish farms like to say: fish farms create employment and revenue. Well, I waited five years for the best source of info to update their numbers, and they show decisively that fish farms don’t contribute much of either.
In BC all aquaculture comprises a measly $61.9 Million of Gross Provincial Product, meaning only 9% of the fishing sector’s total of $667.4 M BC GPP contribution. Sport fishing is miles above at $325.7 M or 48.4%. And the employment that they talk of is similarly small at 1,700 or 12.2% in multiplier terms that include spin off jobs. The entire fish sector is 13,900 jobs, with sport fishing 60.4% at 8,400 jobs. The $400 Million for wild salmon restoration would do wonders for processing, commercial and sport fishing employment, not to mention the entire wild BC province.
Sharp wild salmon decline coincides with arrival of farms
So, I did some sleuthing and found that the actualnumber of real fish farm jobs in BC is a very small 795. Commercial job losses in the same period are 1,400 jobs due to the loss of wild salmon. So fish farm jobs likely eliminate jobs in other sectors, resulting in a net employment loss. The same can be said for revenue.
This does not add in losses in processing, and the sport sector from DFO allowing wild salmon to decline 50%. Little wonder the Cohen Commission said DFO is in a conflict of interest. His recommendation was that fish farm support needs to be eliminated and DFO should concentrate solely on the Wild Salmon Policy and its Habitat Policy.