Changes to Broughton Area Monitoring Program (BAMP)

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For the past five years, the Coastal Alliance for Aquaculture Reform (CAAR) has pursued a four pronged strategy:

  1. prevent an increase in the number of open net salmon farms and the risks they pose to wild salmon,
  2. expose specific ongoing impacts on wild salmon and other marine species from existing net pen salmon farming operations
  3. support the development of closed containment technology and the transition of farmed salmon production to closed systems; and
  4. engage with the salmon farming industry to identify and implement interim measures to reduce the impacts of net-cages on wild salmon and advance joint research into sea lice on farms and their impact on wild juvenile salmon.

 

A significant portion of this work has been done with the Canadian division of the world’s largest salmon farming corporation, Marine Harvest with whom we have undertaken specific projects to increase common scientific knowledge, change existing farm management to reduce risks to wild salmon and to investigate the benefits and costs of closed containment aquaculture.

More recently, the collaborative lice monitoring between CAAR and Marine Harvest expanded to include Fisheries and Oceans Canada scientists, Dr. Martin Krkosek from the University of Otago, N.Z., Mainstream Canada and Greig Seafoods. The Broughton Archipelago Monitoring Program or BAMP has now completed its second successful year of joint field monitoring.

CAAR’s work has met with unprecedented advances in some areas, and frustration in others. Marine Harvest has implemented (to the extent possible given regulatory hurdles and jurisdictional transfer) an alternating fallow route in the Broughton Archipelago during the wild salmon outmigration. They have enacted proactive lice treatment to control and minimize lice levels on farms during the wild salmon migration. While CAAR cannot support the continued use of toxic pesticides in our oceans as a way to achieve long-term industry survival, these combined interim measures appear to be reducing lice levels on wild juvenile salmon in the Broughton.

Meanwhile, the Broughton Area Monitoring Program (BAMP) hired Dr. Crawford Revie of the University of Prince Edward Island as joint project coordinator and negotiated a data-sharing agreement between the companies, DFO and Dr. Krkosek that will allow all parties to fully share farm and wild fish data and undertake the

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most comprehensive analysis of the relationship between farmed salmon, sea lice and wild juvenile fish to date—an incredible step forward in information sharing.

As a member group of CAAR and our representative in BAMP, Watershed Watch Salmon Society has made a tremendous contribution to advancing this work. Dr. Craig Orr of Watershed Watch states “we believe BAMP has made history in monitoring lice and pursuing science in a collaborative manner, and we look forward to the published science from those efforts”.

Nonetheless, Watershed Watch, along with all CAAR groups, has been enormously frustrated by the slow pace of that progress and by ongoing communication challenges that have stood in the way of answering questions and speaking publicly about some of the important outcomes of this work.

As non-profit environmental groups we are all faced with a pressing array of program and ecological priorities, and tough choices on where our resources and capacity can best be allocated. Sadly, Watershed Watch has decided that the industry’s inability or unwillingness to move expeditiously on progress within BAMP and the other joint research projects with Marine Harvest, and the need for Watershed Watch to deal with other pressing conservation issues, has put them in a position where they are no longer able to support continued staff time and resources engaging those efforts. Thus, Watershed Watch Executive and staff are withdrawing from both projects.

Watershed Watch Salmon Society supports the continued work on collaborative salmon aquaculture science, technology and economics by the David Suzuki Foundation, Living Oceans Society, Georgia Strait Alliance and T. Buck Suzuki Environmental Foundation. Dr. Orr—Executive Director of Watershed Watch—believes that BAMP and the formal research agreements with Marine Harvest have accomplished several valuable objectives and could accomplish much more if the will and resources of the industry can be more expediently brought to bear on the timely completion of the proposed projects. Watershed Watch wishes CAAR well in securing agreements with industry and government to proactively communicate all elements of the work and advance the pace of all ongoing projects.

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