Thursday, August 13, 2009

Disappearing Fraser River sockeye salmon vs fish farms

Of the eight to ten million wild sockeye salmon predicted by Oceans and Fisheries Canada to return to the Fraser River this year, only about 7% are returning, leading to the closure of all sockeye fishing on the river for the third year in a row.

Fisheries and Oceans Canada scientists are expressing surprise. Alexandra Morton isn't surprised - she's been warning for 20 years that salmon fry passing through lice-infested open net fish farms become infested and up to 80% fail to return. She notes that both the provincial and federal governments have failed to apply existing Fisheries Act regulations to industrial salmon feedlots in B.C. :

The solution is so simple: Apply the laws of Canada contained in the Fisheries Act. If the Norwegians can’t comply they should leave. Give Canadian fish farmers who want to revamp their industry in closed tanks a break in getting set up. Market wild and farmed fish to raise the value of both. And restore wild salmon in a way that has never been tried by adhering to their biology—the natural laws that have caused them to thrive in the first place.

Fisheries and Oceans Canada rejects sea lice infestation as the cause of the collapse, preferring the climate change theory for which they cannot be held responsible. Meanwhile Fisheries Minister Gail Shea is heading a Fisheries and Oceans Canada delegation to an aquaculture conference, Aqua Nor 2009, in Norway later this month. Norwegian-owned companies control more than 90% of British Columbia's salmon farming production.

How can FOC adequately regulate and promote fish farming at the same time?

Morton also advises that new fish farm licences are being quietly granted and existing ones expanded. Map of factory fish farms operating in BC in 2008 here. As she said back in 2007 :

"Some see wild salmon as just too costly to protect - they require a long corridor of protection from the tops of the rivers all the way out to the ocean and this would "force the politicians to say no to all the hands that feed them."
As a result, "big industry [including logging and offshore drilling] fit well with salmon farms."

I guess once the wild salmon are gone, there will be no good reason to halt Campbell's off-shore drilling and private run-of-river projects.



Oemissions said...

How frustrating for Alexandra, not to be heard. Maybe she will be slightly listened to now.
I remember over the years people declaring her science to be bunk, and one of them was the guy who used to be with Greenpeace and then went corporate, but forget his name.
Global was reporting tonight that Port Alberni area, pedder bay and other areas were having a great return, including sockeye. How does this correlate with the farms, I wonder?

yetti_trapper said...

The run of Fraser river Sockeye collasped and was closed in 2009. The return was 10,000 out of an expected 10 million. Again Sea Lice expected. The pro development gov appears to be contrary to local sentiment. They recently approved both funds and permits for more farms in the Johnston Straits.

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