I almost fell off my chair when I read that former Olypmic ski champion and Canadian Senator Nancy Greene Raine wants to triple the size of fish farming in BC. Taking such a position is badly out of step with what British Columbians want.
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.