Wild fish trapped: Wild Fish Trapped: Incidental Catch in the Salmon Farming Industry
We all know salmon farms are breeding grounds for parasites and viruses that put wild fish at risk. However, we don’t know a lot about how wild fish are actually attracted to B.C. salmon farms, or how many get trapped inside fish farms. These unknowns got us thinking that we need to dig deeper into the available information, to shine light on this aspect of industrial farming. We were so shocked by what we uncovered, we decided to produce a report.
Some highlights we uncovered include:
- Wild fish, such as herring, are likely attracted to fish farms because of lights coming from the facility. They may also be attracted by the fish farm feed and the shelter provided by the farm.
- The number of wild fish caught in salmon farms has been increasing every year with nine times as many caught in 2017 compared to 2011.
- Approximately 13.2 million wild fish may be held within 65 B.C. salmon farms at any one time.
- An additional 663 tonnes of wild fish may be attracted to the vicinity of the farms where they can be exposed to fish farm viruses.
Our research also revealed the federal government only requires fish farms to monitor wild fish caught in fish farms when it is convenient for the industry to do so, when they harvest or transfer their own fish. At any other time, even if there are thousands of herring inside the farm, the industry doesn’t have to do anything about it. The wild fish may be exposed to viruses or parasites, yet, the industry can just keep farming their fish. There’s something wrong with this picture.
We know some are up in arms about the number of wild fish caught in fish farms, particularly British Columbians and First Nations representatives in the Discovery Islands, the west coast of Vancouver Island and the Broughton Archipelago. We must look south of the border for inspiration, where the State of Washington voted to ban open-net Atlantic salmon farms. The tide is turning and there is no reason why we can’t do the same in B.C.
And if you have not already, please sign our Safe Passage petition calling for the removal of open-net pen salmon farms from wild salmon migration routes.