Salmon farmers have earned suspicion

by Mike Price
Times Colonist August 29, 2009

Raincoast Conservation agrees with Clare Backman that caution should be used before laying blame for the Fraser River sockeye collapse on salmon farms (“Don’t blame fish farms for sockeye decline,” Aug. 27).By the time salmon farms began producing fish in B.C., wild salmon were already in a state of decline as a result of widespread mismanagement on every level. However, this does not exonerate salmon farms from responsibility for the impact to wild stocks that has occurred since they began using our ocean as a dump for waste and disease. The reason so many are quick to point the finger at salmon farms, and Marine Harvest specifically, is because of the aquaculture industry’s track record. Every country hosting salmon farms has experienced sea lice infestations and disease transfer that have left local stocks on the brink of extinction. And while this has occurred, time and time again, the industry has denied its role in the ensuing catastrophe. When Backman lectures about irresponsibility, he should look first at theNorwegian owned company he represents and the ecological disruption it continues to cause. In the Broughton Archipelago, they are finally beginning to find ways to lower lice levels and reduce disease outbreaks, though this is the result of numerous independent scientific studies and years of public pressure. But in the Discovery Islands region south of the Broughton, where the majority of Fraser stocks out-migrate, it’s still business as usual for the industry. At Raincoast, we hope our Discovery Islands sea lice research will shed some light on the Fraser sockeye issue. Michael Price Conservation biologist Raincoast Conservation

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Coastal wolf with a salmon in its month.
Photo by Dene Rossouw.