Seeing is Believing

Juvenile sockeye infected with sea lice as they migrate past fish farms in the Discovery Islands

Juvenile sockeye infected with sea lice as they migrate past fish farms in the Discovery Islands

A personal understanding of the places we are trying to protect is requisite for working as a Raincoaster. In this spirit, members of our salmon aquaculture team climbed aboard the SV Achiever last month and embarked on a journey of the Great Bear Rainforest.

Under the wing of Alexandra Morton, we skirted the shores of Tribune Channel in the Broughton Archipelago collecting “loners” – juvenile salmon bristling with lice that are flailing on the surface.  It felt like we were collecting casualties in the wake of a bloody battle.

To the north, Ian McAllister took us by boat to the Ocean Falls Atlantic salmon hatchery near Bella Bella, that is embroiled in legal challenges with the Heiltsuk. Large green tanks chock full of Atlantic salmon now cover what was barren ground just one year ago. This hatchery could grow to be the largest in North America, supplying 20-30 salmon farms in BC’s Great Bear Rainforest and bringing with it the risk of disease, waste, and escapes into the local ecosystem.

After a day of sampling, we rounded the entrance to Mussel Inlet and entered the magical scene on the cover of Raincoast’s Great Bear Rainforest book.  Tiny rainstorms sent thousand-foot trickles down steep granite faces.  Patches of snow skirted the edges of a lovely estuary where two grizzly bears were munching on sedges and roots.  It was clear that they call this place home.

Lastly, we visit the Nutreco Kitasoo Aquafarms salmon tenures near Klemtu.  Nutreco and Pan Fish (owners of the Ocean Falls hatchery) are set to dramatically expand salmon farming in the Great Bear Rainforest.  Pan Fish has identified 19 salmon farm sites they will be applying for on the north coast near the Skeena River.  BC’s Liberals lifted the moratorium in 2002 and have promised to double the number of farms in the next decade.  There are currently 132 salmon farm tenures in British Columbia.

Raincoast and others are fighting to support solutions that will reform the salmon farm industry. Visit www.farmedanddangerous.org for more information and to get active!

Theresa Rothenbush
Salmon Aquaculture Specialist
June 2, 2004
From Bella Bella, BC

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