The Best Attempts to Improve Ocean Fish Farms Fail Sustainability

Gary Haggquist - Fish Farm editorial cartoon

Get Fish Farms out of the BC Coast!

Three Norwegian companies own close to 98% of the fish farms on the migration routes of Fraser River wild salmon. These companies use the fundamentally flawed feedlot technology, as they are floating sewers, essentially a free waste-treatment system. Although this aquaculture industry decreased pesticide use, reduced feed waste and wild fish used for feed, the problems remain. The Multi-billion dollar global fish farm industry continues to deplete feed fish, removing species on which other species depend. They are still forced to use antibiotics and chemicals to fight off mutating viruses. And now we see the federal government removing Section 36 of the Fisheries Act, the prohibition against the release of substances harmful to fish, because the fish farmers need more chemicals to fight sea lice. This industry is aggressive in its pursuit to continually expand at the expense of the marine environment and wild fisheries.

Here in Canada, the Harper conservatives is supporting and enabling a 41% expansion of the fish farms along the migration routes of Fraser River sockeye salmon. This is being done in a crass disregard to the Cohen Commission recommendations related to fish farms, and there are no plans to view fish farm location in relation to inward/outward migration of wild salmon. The federal government has, for all intents and purposes, shelved the Cohen Commission report. This does not serve the best interest of Canadians who depend upon the wild fisheries for a living.

What would be a good solution to open-net feedlots used by the Norwegian aquaculture industry occupying the BC coast? Moving into containment on land is a viable way. Kuterra Aquaculture owned by the Namgis First Nation, created a closed containment, land-based Atlantic salmon farm. Kuterra Aquaculture uses a re-circulating water system, and manages its waste responsibly. Kuterra operations do not need chemicals or antibiotics, so the fish are healthy. The David Suzuki Foundation pointed out that one BC open-net cage company lost over $200 million in one year because of disease, enough to build 10 closed-containment farms. This also takes away their argument that land-based fish farm alternative is economically unfeasible. . Kuterra Aquaculture is proving this is feasible, and their farmed Atlantic salmon are now in Safeway stores.

The David Suzuki Foundation, Salmon Are Sacred, Living Oceans, Watershed Watch, health experts around the world see open-net feedlots used to farm fish continues to threaten wild fisheries and the marine environment and support a halt in expansion of this industry, in addition to advising people to avoid consuming ocean-farmed salmon. Instead of expansion, the weight of evidence is enough to justify the removal of open-net farms.

Tell your supermarket or sushi restaurant to stop selling farmed fish grown in open-net feedlots. Every farmed salmon that is not sold: helps to save wild salmon, promotes the protection of the marine environment and protects human health. For more information, go to www.salmonAlert.com, or www.alexandramorton.com, or www.farmedsalmonboycott.com.

Eddie Gardner
Net-Pen Farmed Salmon Boycott Coordinator