Top 3 Reasons Open Net-pen Salmon Farms Threaten Wild Salmon

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This June, many provincial salmon farm tenures on B.C.’s coast are set to expire. This presents a huge opportunity for the provincial government to protect our wild salmon from Atlantic salmon farms and their diseases by simply not renewing these tenures.

Recently, our neighbours in Washington State have banned open-net salmon farming and it is time for B.C. to follow suit. Here are the 3 top reasons open net-pen salmon farms threaten wild salmon.

#1. Fish farm diseases threaten wild salmon.

Viruses and disease in salmon farms can spread like wildfire. If one farm salmon is infected, its close proximity to hundreds of thousands of other salmon means it can spread fast. One highly problematic virus found within B.C. salmon farms is Piscine Reovirus (PRV). PRV is found in over 70 per cent of farmed salmon and, according to the latest science, can be transmitted from farms to wild salmon. PRV can infect the fish’s red blood cells, reducing oxygen absorption, and is the causative agent of a life threatening disease for salmon–Heart and Skeletal Muscle Inflammation (HSMI). HSMI can cause lesions on the heart, weaken the muscular system, and cause mortality rates between 20 and 100 per cent. PRV can negatively affect wild salmon and impede their ability to complete their spawning migrations.

#2.  Salmon farms can spread salmon lice to wild salmon.

Salmon lice naturally occur in the Pacific Ocean, but overcrowded conditions in salmon farms provide optimal breeding grounds for them. For the tens of thousands of adult farmed salmon in the pens, the contraction of salmon lice are not usually detrimental. However, problems arise for juvenile wild salmon as they migrate past the farms. On their journey, many of B.C.’s wild baby salmon will pass at least one salmon farm on their out-migration. If an opportunistic salmon louse latches onto a wild salmon it can be devastating to the baby fish. Research reports that one to three salmon lice can kill a juvenile wild salmon.

#3. Farm salmon can escape and out-compete native species for resources.

Unfortunately, large-scale escapes from open-net farms happen fairly frequently. For example, 300,000 farmed Atlantic salmon escaped from a farm in Washington in the summer of 2017. On the other hand, small-scale escapes, referred to as leakage, go under-reported. Scientists report that as much as one per cent of farmed salmon escape their pens each year via leakage. That means 160,000 farmed fish escape and go unreported each year in B.C. When farmed Atlantic salmon escape, they make the lives of wild salmon more challenging. They can compete with wild salmon for food and habitat, and they can spread diseases to wild species.

Despite the clear risks to B.C. wild salmon, fish farms continue to operate. But with Washington’s recent decision to remove open-net fish farms from coastal waters, pressure is mounting on provincial and federal officials to follow their lead and let the tenures lapse.

Help make this happen by adding your voice to the Declaration in Defense of Wild Salmon and calling for the removal of open-net fish farms.


One Response to Top 3 Reasons Open Net-pen Salmon Farms Threaten Wild Salmon



    And the new science on PRV and disease in wild chinook by Miller: Farmed PRV Infecting Wild Salmon – BC, Miller:

    And a new lice outbreak in Clayoquot Sound: Fish Farm Lice Kill Salmon Fry – Clayoquot Sound, BC:

    And the Council of Canadians has just come out against BC fish farms: Council of Canadians Against Fish Farms – BC:

    And some deeper comments on the PRV/Chinook story:
    Disease – PRV Causes Disease in Wild Chinook – Non HSMI – BC, Riddell/Miller: ”
    “Our study used novel molecular tools to show that PRV-1 was intimately involved in the development of jaundice/anemia in Chinook salmon,” said Dr. Kristi Miller-Saunders, Fisheries and Oceans Canada and lead scientist in the SSHI. “The study also reveals a difference in PRV-1 sensitivity between species that could easily explain why the virus causes inflammation in Atlantic salmon and cell death in Chinook salmon. Based on the results, we concluded that Chinook salmon may be at more than a minimal risk of disease from exposure to PRV occurring on salmon farms.” This is the link to the paper:

    “The findings in the most recent study add to the concerns of scientists, environmental groups and the BC salmon community that PRV is having negative effects on wild Pacific salmon in our coastal waters,” concluded Riddell. “I certainly hope that industry and regulators consider these findings seriously as they look at the future of the aquaculture industry in BC.””

    And, John, those classic videos of sick, deformed, clouded in fecal matter farmed fish: Emaciated, Sick Behaviour, Malignant, Deformed, Clouds of Fecal Matter – BC, Morton, 2017 fish farm video. This is the classic list of about a dozen fish farms with sick, malignant fish, sick behaviour and clouds of fecal matter: Jeremy Dunn in La La Land. This post has the poll results saying 75% of BC citizens want fish farms banned.

    And, the federal auditing commissioner who gave DFO a failing grade: DFO Not Protecting Wild Salmon – Commissioner, CDN:

    And, the BC Wildlife Federation has this to say about the big need to protect wild fish: ‘DFO Has No Timelines or Plans’ – to protect wild salmon and trout, BCWF, see report:
    “Dear Commissioner Gelfand and Auditor General Ferguson:

    RE: Request for an Examination of Canada’s Failure to Protect Endangered Pacific Salmon and Anadromous Trout Species under the Species at Risk Act.

    Please look into the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) and Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) ability to protect endangered Pacific salmon and anadromous trout species under the Species at Risk Act (SARA). 1. Make this request pursuant to s. 7(2), s. 21.1 and s. 23(1) of the Auditor General Act.

    DFO Science Woes – Stop Pretending There is a Scientific Debate on Fish Farms – BC: Stan P, good article:

    And rare glass sponge reef killed by fish farm sewage: Reef Smothered by Fish Farm Sewage – BC, glass sponge, ancient:

    And the Broughton Archipelago ‘Namgis opposition to fish farms: Aboriginals Against Fish Farms – Ernest Alfred:

    And, the chefs of BC are against in-ocean fish farms: Chefs Call for On-land – BC:

    And a major new study on on-land fish farms as the way of the future: On-land Aqua Way of Future – major study:
    The Blood virus water is still pouring out of the Atlantic Salmon Processing plants this must stop now.

    John, Lana,Doug, George et al, I think you get the point:
    BC wants fish farms taken out of the ocean. Give us what we want.
    Concerned Citizen,
    Jackie Campbell
    Pitt Meadows, BC. V3Y-2N7

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