Nancy Greene Raine - Fish Farms - What About Wild BC Salmon

Nancy Greene Raine: Fish Farms? What About Wild BC Salmon?

Nancy Greene Raine - Fish Farms - What About Wild BC Salmon
Senator Nancy Greene at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics (Photo: Wikipedia)

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, 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:

  • 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.


About DC Reid

DC is a poet, novelist, sport fishing and fisheries policy writer, who has won numerous awards over the years. His houses some 15,000 pages of science on the environmental damage caused by open-net fish farms in BC and around the world. He reads up to 100 pages of global fish farm news every week to stay informed. DC won the Art Downs Award for 2012 for sustained, outstanding writing on environmental issues with respect to fish farms. The award was based on 10 columns on fish farm issues in the Times Colonist newspaper, three submissions to the Cohen Commission on Fraser sockeye and his blog,

17 thoughts on “Nancy Greene Raine: Fish Farms? What About Wild BC Salmon?

  1. What’s is really missing about fish farms is where it obtains it’s protein base.this is derived from various sources..moreover it is the krill fishery in b c that provides this biomass in unprecedented volumes .stolen from the natural biomass in British Columbia ocean waters.robbing the nutrients of life from naturally raised species..there is a comerciAL fisheries licence for this product that must be stopped

  2. Closed containment good -but where is the fish food going to come from? The small fish depletion starves those who usually eat them -and our food chain crashes . Keep the ecosystems intact, repair the ecosystems that are damaged, help the wild salmon survive. They deliver marine nutrients to the inland forests. Such a miracle, that most are ignorant of. Raine comes from Columbia River country, the largest salmon run of 16 million salmon used to spawn in its’ tributaries until the Grand Coulee Dam was built to power the smelting of aluminum and Hanford Nuclear plant for war on the Japanese. This utterly stupid culture traded death for life-giving salmon, now Raine perpetuates this cultural stupidity and ignorance thru fish-farm dead-end folly.

  3. Land-based fish farms do not “solve virtually all problems” of open-net fish farming—they solve a lot of the problems but not the approximately five-to-one feed-to-product conversion which, as the article recognized with regard to Chile’s disastrous experience, is one of the biggest problems of producing carnivorous fish species, regardless what type of containment, land-based or open-net.

    It doesn’t wash that wild-harvested protein, the main source of fish-farm food, doesn’t deplete the species of protein that people’s palates prefer because virtually all of this haul is essential to the ocean food-chain. The commons tragedy in this case consists of not only depleting food sources for wild fish stocks, but also of forcing the human palate to refocus on these very same basic food-chain species as alternatives to the very species higher on the feeding chain that depletion of basic species depleted in the first place—a double-whammy that excellerates the disintegration of productive ocean ecosystems. This problem isn’t academic: stocks of preferred, larger fish stocks are largely fished out but enforcing reduced catch limits, as difficult as that tactic is, still can’t strategically remedy stock-depletion if the protein sources on which any recovery depends has been diverted to fish-farm feeding.

    The only solutions are to stop carnivorous fish-farming altogether, both land-based and open-net; find another carnivorous fish-farm food source that doesn’t deplete wild fishes’ natural food supply; stop farming carnivorous fish species and replace them with non-carniverous fish like tilapia—land-based, of course, to prevent polluting natural ecosystems with point concentrations of fecal matter, growth hormones, antibiotics, pesticides and sanitizing chemicals.

    Putting fish-farms on land is only half the battle: finding fish-farm food is the other half.

    1. Every morning I’d flip over the rotten old boards laying on the ground in my chicken pen—and the hens would be ready, as they’d trained themselves, to eagerly gobble up the couple pounds of sow-bugs exposed.

      Then, while reading the label on a seven-dollar container of tropical fish-food about the size of a shot-glass, I wondered if the seemingly endless supply of sow-bugs could be turned to profit as fish food. Seemed simple at first.

      My friend who’s a tropical fish aficionado and I grabbed some sow-bugs (they’re virtually everywhere) and threw them into his big aquarium. The little crustaceans (that’s what sow-bugs are) attracted immediate attention as they floated down to the bottom (where they walked around looking for a way out—they have gills instead of lungs which is why they are always found near moisture) but every species of fish in the tank turned their noses up at them. My buddy broke one in half and threw it in—it was devoured in a wink. Further research revealed that sow-bugs’ carapaces have a bitter smell which protects them from predators but for some reason broken open ones are irresistible to some species of tropical fish.

      But here’s the thing: wholesale harvesting of wild sow-bugs, which are obviously part of they ecosystems they inhabit, could not help but impact on that ecosystem in some way. If I was to take a page from the fish-farm industry, I’d respond to any concerns about depleting sow-bug stocks, founded or not, with a declaration of self-interest rights, foreign trade agreements or even a rhetorical “who needs ecosystems anyways?” If my million-dollar sow-bug operation was located in BC, I’d contribute money to the BC Liberal party to protect my investment. Might even demonize sow-bugs, already not much loved, by convincing the public—who’ve lived intimately with sow-bugs since the dawn of humanness—that these little devils spread disease and destroy the economy—maybe even eat babies.

  4. I believe that her expertise is/was skiing?

    She should leave it at that and leave the fish farms on land and non- polluting and non-injurious to wild salmon and all the animals who live upon them.

  5. I hope everyone knows our fisheries minister tried to give openings on stocks of herring that were not big enough this year…they strip the eggs out of the female fish to ship to Japan,and use the males and female carcasses for fishfarm feed….nice

  6. This woman is annoying. She wins a olympic medal (eons ago) and everyone goes lollypops over her. She can do no wrong. Her and her developer husband have wreaked massive destruction on pristine areas of BC. All in the name of healthy outdoor fun, mind you!
    Now a senator. Is there any job in this country that has a lower expectation than this? I wish they would all just go away!

    1. Total agreement.
      Is there any politician lower on the evolutionary scale than a Canadian Senator?
      Appointed not elected.
      Accountable only to the Prime Minister.
      Sock puppets for the govt in power.
      A $100 million dollar a year exercise in pork barrel politics.

      An elected Senate? You’ve got to be kidding me.

      Abolish the Senate and not one person other than the snuffling hogs that infest that Capital hill chamber will shed a single tear……….

  7. Raines is being ‘used’ by the harpercons, just like they ‘tried’ to use other psuedo celebrities like Wallin and Duffy, as well as the ‘apple’ Indian Brazeau, to give an ‘appearance’ of credibility to their perverted anti democracy agenda.

    These pseudo celebs are so enamoured of their historical fifteen minutes of fame that they actually believe they are ‘chosen’ for their knowledge and intelligence when in fact they are behaving like cowed sheep hoplessly bleating to their perverted master’s beckoning, all the while leading Canada to slaughter at the hands of the corporate controllers of our bought and paid for governors.

  8. Senator Raines did a cute dipsy-doodle around and between regulations in order to build her ski facility on land claimed by First Nations. Her support for the fish feedlot industry isn’t surprising, but it is disappointing. Such a shame when people put money and ego ahead of the health of the ocean and the wild fish which live in it. Get those septic messes out of the ocean, put them in closed containment on land, and make sure they have their own sewage treatment plants.

    1. anne cameron said:

      “Senator Raines did a cute dipsy-doodle around and between regulations in order to build her ski facility on land claimed by First Nations”

      Not so. The resort the Raines attempted to develop never got off the ground. Nippon Cable is the money behind Sun Peaks. The Raines built a hotel there, but had no involvement in the legalities which preceded the development.

Comments are closed.