Wild fish trapped: Wild Fish Trapped: Incidental Catch in the Salmon Farming Industry

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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. 

Wild Fish Trapped (report)Read the report here.

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.

3 Responses to Wild fish trapped: Wild Fish Trapped: Incidental Catch in the Salmon Farming Industry

  1. Don Boyle says:

    Open net BC fish farms must be eliminated on our coast.

  2. Edward Gardner says:

    The shocking and alarming evidence that large numbers of wild fish are being trapped in open net pen fish farms adds to the many reasons why British Columbians are pushing to get fish farms removed from the migration routes of wild salmon. The Wild Salmon Defenders Alliance is in solidarity with many individuals, organizations and Indigenous agencies who do not want what Justice Cohen warned – fish farms pose a risk of doing irreversible harm to wild salmon. We now know they are also threatening herring that get caught in their nets. Stricter regulations is simply not the answer. What is required is that Canada follow our USA neighbours and initiate a rapid phasing out of ocean fish farms.

  3. Arthur M Dick says:

    It was well known in the past that lights turned on at night attracts everything that swimming the ocean. So deadly to the herring fishing industry they themselves outlawed pit lamping as it was called back then. When the farmers were allowed to use the lights at night all the old time fishermen were appalled. The lights used to be on the decks of the system and was a hazard to navigation. DFO in their great WISDOM decide toallow them below the surface of the water. Now nobody sees them at night anymore. This practice is a huge reason why wildstocks are in HUGE decline. The predators are waiting for the young fish to come to the light and a feeding frenzy starts. The young fishare not aware of what is going on and are easy prey.

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