Ottawa's new aquaculture rules would permit harmful dumping

CBC
August 27, 2014

The federal government is proposing new aquaculture regulations that would permit the dumping of harmful substances on the ocean bottom beneath fish farms.

Ottawa says the proposed rules resolve a contradiction — some say an impediment — to the growth of the industry in Canada.

"We are providing more clarity to Canadians on how we manage the sector," says Eric Gilbert, director general of aquaculture for the Department of Fisheries and Oceans.

Canada's Fisheries Act bans the deposit of "deleterious" substances unless authorized by regulation.

The proposed regulations released Saturday would allow the deposit of unused feed, fish feces, pest control chemicals and organic matter from anti-fouling measures. All are part of fish farming, but are considered deleterious substances.

"There is tons of human activity that generate deleterious substances that at the end of the day end up in the sea and could have a negative impact," says Gilbert.

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Posted August 27th, 2014

B.C. sockeye salmon return in doubt after Quesnel spill

Vancouver Sun
August 6, 2014

This was supposed to be the year of a rebound, a great return for B.C. sockeye salmon. A turnaround. Now, at least for sockeye in the Quesnel waterways, that great return is in doubt.

“The timing of this spill couldn’t be worse in terms of the return of the sockeye,” said Craig Orr, executive director of Watershed Watch Salmon Society.

The peak migration of sockeye in the Quesnel system — which includes the Horsefly River, Quesnel River and Mitchell River, all waterways potentially affected by the Polley Lake tailings pond spill — is expected in about two weeks.

The pre-season forecast for the return of the sockeye salmon in the Quesnel system is 845,000 to 2.95 million, according to Dan Bate, communications officer for Fisheries and Oceans Canada Pacific Region, a good chunk of the 23 million Fraser sockeye forecast for this year.

Quesnel sockeye have traditionally been a strong sockeye run and a major contributor to the sockeye fisheries, said Pete Nicklin of the Upper Fraser Fisheries Conservation Alliance.

However, for the past two seasons (eight years), returns have dipped dramatically.

“Quesnel sockeye have been a conservation concern according to DFO’s Wild Salmon Policy Status assessment,” said Nicklin.

This year, with a boom season predicted, all the careful management and nurturing of the Quesnel sockeye was supposed to pay off.

“The Quesnel sockeye travel up the Fraser River, turn into the Quesnel River, swim up Quesnel Lake, pass through the exact area of the toxic debris field (left by the tailing pond breach) where Hazeltine Creek meets the lake, turn up into the Horsefly and Mitchell rivers,” said Gord Sterritt, executive director of the Upper Fraser Fisheries Conservation Alliance.

The arrival of a healthy sockeye run, millions-strong in the Horsefly and Mitchell rivers, said Sterritt, would normally be spectacular and noisy. “Fish everywhere, in the water, spawning, digging their nests in the gravel, pairing off, preparing to lay their eggs, you hear them slapping around, protecting their territories.”

Now it’s anyone’s guess as to how this spill will affect the fish. “The fish could be poisoned and it could impact their spawning success rate, or they could make it back to spawn but we wouldn’t know what the cumulative impacts will be,” said Sterritt.

Read the full article in the Vancouver Sun.

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Posted August 24th, 2014

‘End the secrecy over seal deaths’ [Scotland]

August 24, 2014
Sunday Times

MINISTERS are on course for another clash with Scotland’s information tsar after refusing to disclose how many seals have been killed by salmon farmers.

The Scottish government has refused to publish the latest data on seal killings, including naming farms where the mammals have been shot, citing concern it could jeopardise the safety of salmon farmers, their families and animal rights campaigners.

Ministers deployed a similar defence last year but were overruled by Rosemary Agnew, the information commissioner, who forced them to publish the secret data.

It emerged 300 mammals were shot inside 18 months.

Since the disclosure, eco-activists have staged protests at salmon farms and netting stations on the east and west coasts of Scotland.

Read more in The Sunday Times

Posted August 24th, 2014

Fraser River sockeye return in good numbers and good condition on way to spawning grounds

Charlie Smith
August 23, 2014
Straight.com

THE PACIFIC SALMON Commission has revealed that nearly three million Fraser River sockeye salmon have already reached Mission. In a statement on its website, the commission also noted that "migration of sockeye through marine and lower Fraser River assessment areas as well as past the Mission hydroacoustic site has increased over the past week".

Moreover, an observer positioned at Hells Gate has concluded that the fish are in "good condition" as they travel toward their spawning grounds.

"Though there have been some small increases in the purse seine test fishery catches on the Juan de Fuca route over the last few days, extremely high fractions of Fraser sockeye continue to be migrating via the Johnstone Strait route, an estimate of more than 95% for the past week, which is unprecedented," the commission stated.

The Fraser River panel has concluded that the estimated escapement of Early Summer-run sockeye past Mission is 1,015,200 fish.

The estimate for escapement of Summer-run sockeye past Mission is 1,835,000 fish.

These estimates are for fish passing through by August 21.

It's still too early to estimate seasonal escapement of late-run sockeye past Mission, though 351,000 of these fish had already arrived by August 21.

Often when there's a good return of wild salmon, supporters of B.C.'s aquaculture industry say it proves that it's not as harmful as critics have suggested. The Georgia Strait Alliance has maintained, however, that a good return of sockeye "does not let fish farms off the hook".

"True recovery," it states on its website, "requires healthy returns across the many different subgroups of Fraser River sockeye and for multiple years in a row. The maintenance of sockeye diversity in the Fraser is key as it maximizes the sockeye's ability to adapt over the long term, and maximizes the chance of a healthy return every year."

Source: The Straight.com 

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Posted August 24th, 2014

Russia sanctions throw Norway's fish industry into turmoil

August 6, 2014
Reuters

Norwegian salmon prices are expected to fall 10 percent in the next week as a result of Russia's food sanctions, traders and analysts said on Friday, forcing farmers to scramble for new markets at a time when prices are already under pressure.

Russia, which consumes nearly 7 percent of global salmon production, banned all Norwegian seafood on Thursday, along with a wide range of agricultural products from countries which have imposed sanctions against Russia over its role in the Ukrainian conflict.

The ban also comes at a sensitive time for the market as salmon prices are already down around 30 percent from record highs hit at the start of the year, due in part to lower consumption during the holiday period and increased production as fish grow during the summer.

Market sources said they expected salmon prices to fall to around 30-31 Norwegian crowns per kilo for delivery next week from around 34 kilos a week earlier, and added the market was very volatile.

Read the full story on Reuters. 

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Posted August 7th, 2014