Grizzlies starve as salmon disappear

Tracy McVeigh 
September 20, 2009
The Guardian

First it was the giant panda, then the polar bear, now it seems that the grizzly bear is the latest species to face impending disaster.

A furious row has erupted in Canada with conservationists desperately lobbying the government to suspend the annual bear-hunting season following reports of a sudden drop in the numbers of wild bears spotted on salmon streams and key coastal areas where they would normally be feeding.

The government has promised to order a count of bears, but not until after this year's autumn trophy hunts have taken place. It has enraged ecology groups which say that a dearth of salmon stocks may be responsible for many bears starving in their dens during hibernation. The female grizzlies have their cubs during winter after gorging themselves in September on the fish fats that sustain them through the following months.

"I've never seen bears hungry in the fall before, but last year they were starving," said British Columbian wildlife guide and photographer Doug Neasloss. "I noticed in the spring there weren't as many bears coming out, but I felt it was premature to jump to conclusions." But now, he said, "there just aren't any bears. It's scary."

Read the full story in The Guardian (UK)

Read related stories:

  • In The Globe & Mail, September 19, 2009,  "An ecosystem in turmoil puts its predators at risk". 
  • In The Globe & Mail, September 19, 2009, "Where the grizzly bears (still) roam" 
  • In The Globe & Mail, September 9, 2009, "Grizzlies starve as salmon disappear". 



Posted September 20th, 2009

A keystone species

Mark Hume
September 19, 2009
The Globe & Mail

A study in Washington and Oregon identified 138 species of terrestrial and marine mammals, birds, reptiles and amphibians that feed on salmon.

Of those, nine species were so dependent on salmon their “distribution, viability, abundance and/or population status” was decided by the availability of the fish.

The nine species most reliant on salmon are: grizzly bear, black bear, bald eagle, Caspian tern, common merganser, harlequin duck, killer whale, osprey and river otter.

The report, which had input from several U.S. government agencies, advised wildlife managers to “be aware that salmon can be viewed as the centre of a broad ‘functional web' of wildlife and … thus [are] a keystone species.”

See the article in The Globe & Mail

Posted September 19th, 2009

Call for salmon review derided by local MLA

Gerry Bellett & Richard J. Dalton
September 22, 2009 
Maple Ridge Times

The federal government should review why the forecast for sockeye salmon was so far off the mark, B.C. Environment Minister Barry Penner told Canwest News on Friday.

The Department of Fisheries and Oceans had predicted that 10.5 million sockeye would return for the year -- more than seven times the actual number returning.

The call for a review comes as commercial gillnet fishermen demanded a judicial inquiry into the state of the Fraser River salmon fishery.

Penner said the low return has been a "huge disappointment."

"This isn't the first time that the forecast has missed the mark," he said.


Read the full story in the Maple Ridge Times

Read related stories in the:

Read background stories on the collapse of the Fraser River sockeye






Posted September 19th, 2009

Retired fisheries expert slams minister

Jack Knox
September 17, 2009
The Province

medium;">For retired fisheries biologist Gordon Hartman, it was the sight of Nero fiddling while Rome burned.

With a full-scale salmon crisis on the West Coast, the famed Fraser River sockeye run approaching total collapse, where was federal Fisheries Minister Gail Shea? In Norway, banging the drum on behalf of the fish-farming industry.

Which, after hearing some of her comments, told Hartman all he needed to know about Shea's priorities when it comes to Pacific salmon.

"It was the straw that broke the camel's back," Hartman says from his Nanaimo home.

So Hartman recruited another retired Department of Fisheries and Oceans scientist, Casey McAllister, and drafted an Aug. 31 letter accusing Shea and DFO of doing a poor job of protecting wild salmon while giving unrestrained support to the aquaculture industry.

"Historically, we recall times when DFO stood out clearly on environmental issues," they wrote. Marine oil exploration, fish habitat, coastal logging, the Site C dam proposal -- DFO was always there, on the side of the angels.

"As opposed to this, DFO's performance during the past 25 years or so is lamentable." That's particularly true regarding the protection of Pacific salmon, they wrote. The letter accuses DFO of sitting quietly by while fish-bearing streams are pre-empted for private power development, condoning massive gravel removal in salmon habitat in the lower Fraser River and playing hand-maiden to the aquaculture industry.

Read full story in The Province


Posted September 17th, 2009

Biologist takes aim at fish-farm company

B.C.'s largest aquaculture company faces private prosecution over alleged presence of salmon fry at fish farm

Robert Matas 
September 17, 2009
The Globe and Mail

A prominent B.C. environmentalist has started a private prosecution against the province's largest aquaculture company, alleging that migrating salmon fry were ending up in fish farms along the West Coast.

The court case stems from an incident on June 16, when several people reported seeing small pink salmon mixed in with much larger salmon from a fish farm operated by Marine Harvest Canada Inc., biologist Alexandra Morton said yesterday in an interview from Port McNeill, on the northern tip of Vancouver Island.

Pink salmon are from a highly protected population, she said. “The taxpayers spent huge amounts of money protecting [the pink salmon] and now they [the pink salmon] are in the farm and in the [fish farm's] boats, and I cannot even get an answer from the Fisheries Department: Did they go look? How many are there? What are you going to do about it? Is it happening on all the farms?”

Ms. Morton, who has lived around fish farms for more than 20 years, said she reluctantly decided to challenge the company after seeing incidents involving many fish farms that she believes were infractions of federal regulations.

“These are things that are going to affect the whole area I live in, and, ultimately, the whole coast of B.C.,” she said.

In the court action filed Tuesday in B.C. Provincial Court, Ms. Morton alleges that Marine Harvest Canada possessed wild pink salmon without a licence. Ms. Morton is represented by Jeff Jones, a lawyer in Port McNeill who prosecuted violations of Fisheries regulations on behalf of the federal department from 1983 to 2004. 

Read the full story in The Globe and Mail

Read related story on The Tyee, September 15, "Morton takes Marine Harvest to court"

Read related story in the North Island Gazette, September 22, "Morton files charges against Marine Harvest"



Posted September 17th, 2009

Dismal sockeye run sparks downtown rally

Suzanne Fournier
September 17, 2009
The Province

People dressed as fish and a new group called the Wild Salmon Circle were joined by broadcaster Rafe Mair at a protest yesterday outside the federal fisheries offices in Vancouver.

"We're in the fight of our lives to save the wild salmon. Every fisheries minister has been a blithering idiot, and the one we have now takes the cake," bellowed Mair, 77, but still in possession of his radio hotliner's voice.

Mair criticized federal fisheries for mismanaging wild Pacific salmon stocks and encouraging fish farms, which he blamed for "disastrous" Fraser River sockeye salmon runs this summer that collapsed from a predicted 13 million to fewer than two million.

Read the full story in The Province

Read background news stories on the crash of the Fraser River sockeye



Posted September 17th, 2009

Gov't out of fish farm management

George T. Baker
September 17, 2009
Prince George Citizen


The provincial government will no longer be responsible for managing fish farms on the coast.

The switch in authority to the Fisheries and Oceans Canada was welcomed by environmentalists and North Coast politicians alike, although concern then shifted to the effect this would have on the North Cost moratorium on fish farms.

According to the federal government, that won’t be affected because the moratorium is still a provincial jurisdiction.

“The moratorium was placed under the B.C Land Act and there is no impact from the Morton decision to the B.C. Land Act,” said DFO media relations’ representative Andrew Thomson.

The provincial government continues to hold the right to issue land tenures, which come under the B.C. Land Act.

According to Thomson, the placement of an aquaculture facility requires land tenure - or essentially a chunk of seabed. “That portion of any regulation of aquaculture remains the same,” said Thomson.

Much was made of the ‘quietness’ of the transfer. There was no public announcement made and environmental stakeholders such as Living Oceans Society felt the provincial government was trying evade attention to the issue as they made the final decision on transferring responsibilities. 

Read the full article in the Prince George Citizen


Posted September 17th, 2009

Head of native aquaculture group barred from federal meeting

Judith Lavoie
September 12, 2009
The Times Colonist

A Vancouver Island First Nations leader, who heads a provincewide aboriginal aquaculture committee, was turned away from a meeting in Vancouver with federal Fisheries and Oceans Minister Gail Shea yesterday.

Chief Bob Chamberlin of the Kwicksutaineuk Ah-Kwa-Mish First Nation, chairman of the First Nations Leadership Council's aquaculture working group, tried to attend the Fraser River sockeye meeting in Vancouver, but was barred by Department of Fisheries and Oceans staff.

"I felt I was absolutely in my right to try and force my way in because of the knowledge and expertise I have gathered," said Chamberlin, whose request to attend the meeting had been turned down.

Chamberlin is from the Broughton Archipelago, where salmon farms and wild salmon exist together uneasily. Wild fish advocates think the farms have played a role in the collapse of the Fraser River sockeye fishery, but DFO says there is no proof of that.

Read the full story in The Times Colonist

See Damien Gillis' video "Fisheries Minister in Vancouver for Emergency Meeting; Chief Chamberlin Shut Out"

Posted September 16th, 2009

As other runs diminish, pinks become the target

Mark Hume
September 14, 2009
The Globe and Mail

With sports anglers crowding the banks of the Fraser River and lining up on the coastline approaches – including near the legendary 14th hole at Furry Creek Golf and Country Club that juts out into Howe Sound – one might wonder if the headlines about a salmon collapse were wrong.

If all the salmon are gone, what are these people fishing for?

The answer is both as simple and complex as the world of salmon.

In British Columbia, there are five species of salmon: chinook, coho, sockeye, chum and pink.

They arrive to spawn at different times of the year but the runs often overlap.

Even among the species, there are distinct stocks. Fraser River sockeye, for example, are divided into early Stuart (for the Stuart River system), early summer, summer and late stocks. They are all the same species, returning to the same river system, but at different times and headed to different places to spawn.

The vast majority of sockeye have now returned to the Fraser and its many tributaries, and that's why the Department of Fisheries and Oceans is able to say with reliable accuracy that only about 1.3 million fish made it back. About 10.6 million were expected, based on projections made four years ago when a large number of sockeye successfully spawned, and because monitoring showed big, healthy young salmon were headed out to sea. They just never came back, and the reason isn't known. Sea-lice infestations from fish farms, ocean changes and an influx of new predators, brought by warmer Pacific currents, are all suspects.

Read the full story in The Globe and Mail

Read related story in The Globe and Mail - Salmon in the pink on the Fraser River

Read background news stories on the crash of the Fraser River sockeye



Posted September 15th, 2009

Fisheries Minister Gail Shea warned Fraser sockeye salmon in crisis

Steve Mertl
September 11, 2009
The Canadian Press

A First Nations leader says he's concerned federal Fisheries Minister Gail Shea doesn't grasp the crisis situation facing Fraser River sockeye salmon.

Grand Chief Doug Kelly, who co-chairs the First Nations Fisheries Council, attended a meeting Friday with Shea and the disappearance of millions of sockeye from this year's run was discussed.

The Department of Fisheries and Oceans estimated about 10.5 million sockeye would return to the Fraser River this year but so far, only a tenth that number has shown up.

The huge shortfall has forced the closure of commercial sockeye fisheries and hamstrung aboriginal fisheries among Fraser River-based First Nations that depend on sockeye to supplement their diet over the winter, said Kelly.

"We need that food and so I'm afraid that people are going to go hungry this winter," he said.

Friday's meeting included B.C. Tories Gary Lunn, the federal sports minister, and Pitt Meadows-Maple Ridge MP Randy Kamp, environmentalists, fishing groups and First Nations such as Kelly.

Shea and the other government representatives listened to the briefings and asked a few questions, Kelly said, but gave no indication they were prepared to act.

Read the full story on The Canadian Press

Read background news stories on the crash of the Fraser River sockeye

Posted September 13th, 2009

Minister pours cold water on fears over collapse of salmon fisheries

Robert Matas
September 11, 2009
The Globe and Mail

Federal Fisheries and Oceans Minister Gail Shea poured cold water today on widespread alarm over the collapse of the multi-million dollar salmon fishery on the West Coast.

 In a brief interview before a closed-door meeting with representatives of about 20 groups involved in the B.C. fisheries, Ms. Shea said the return of pink salmon to the Fraser and Skeena rivers was strong, although the stock of sockeye salmon in the Fraser River was significantly less than forecast.

It's kind of hard to tell what is happening here,” Ms. Shea said. “Some are higher, some are lower than forecast,” she said. “Some runs are very healthy, so it is hard to point to any one thing as the cause of sockeye not returning,” she added.

While scientists search for why sockeye salmon did not return to the Fraser River, fishery department staff were looking into why forecasts were so wrong. Ms. Shea downplayed the significance of the forecasts, saying the department does not manage the fishery based on forecasts. “We manage the fishery by in-season returns. The forecasts were done four years ago,” she said. “We manage on what actually comes back, not on a forecast of four years ago."

Read the full story in The Globe and Mail

Read related story in the: 

Chilliwack Progress - Minister holds closed -door session on sockeye

The Times Colonist - Head of native aquaculture group barred from federal meeting

Read background news stories on the crash of the Fraser River sockeye

Posted September 13th, 2009

Fraser sockeye run's future is fishy

Deana Lancaster
September 13, 2009
North Shore News

Today's forecast: plenty of sunshine, a few clouds and a jubilant celebration of wild salmon.

The 30th anniversary of the Coho Festival kicks off this morning with a 14-kilometre run from Kitsilano to Ambleside Park, intended to symbolize the incredible journey that the fish make from ocean to river for spawning. The festivities continue at the seaside park with live music and kids' games, capped off with a much-loved salmon barbecue: a tasty fish dinner for just $14.

But should today's celebration be quite so gleeful? Of late, the headlines about wild salmon have been dismal, and there are rumblings about the future of the Pacific Coast's favourite fish.

Is it doomed?

At the end of July, the Fraser River sockeye run was critically downgraded. What was supposed to be an incredible bounty of adult fish making the run up the river was a bust. They simply didn't show.

The past two summers, sockeye salmon failed to make it back to the Fraser River in large enough numbers to support commercial fishing, but their poor turnout was expected: when they went out as smolts to sea in 2005 the ocean was too warm and feeding conditions were poor.

But 2009 was supposed to be the year that turned it all around. This year's run was the marine equivalent of a private school grad class -- they had received all the advantages in their youth. There had been a good escapement from the fishery in 2005 (the number of fish that made it back to spawn); winter conditions for the embryos were good; the hatchout was better than anticipated; and before they left for the ocean, the smolts were observed to be large and healthy.

Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) predicted that 10.6 million sockeye would come back to the Fraser River this summer.

Less than 10 per cent have turned up.

"We have to be very, very concerned," said Grant Snell, general manager of the B.C. Salmon Marketing Council. "If this pattern repeats again -- if four years from now only 10 per cent of the run returns -- that will be 100,000 fish. It's pretty much all over for them. 


Read the full story in The North Shore News

Read background news stories on the crash of the Fraser River sockeye


Posted September 13th, 2009

MP wants summit on salmon

Jennifer Moreau
September 12, 2009
Burnaby Now

Burnaby-New Westminster MP Peter Julian is renewing calls for an emergency summit on the millions of missing sockeye in the Fraser River and asking the federal government to step up fish farm regulations.

Julian said the provincial government is respecting a February Supreme Court ruling that it will not be overseeing fish farms, which he said has left a regulatory void.

"The federal fisheries minister has done absolutely nothing to fill that void," Julian said. "No one in Ottawa seems to be aware of how serious the situation is on the West Coast."

In July, Fisheries and Oceans Canada was forecasting 10.6 million sockeye salmon would return to the Fraser this year. The new overall estimate is 1.3 million, roughly one in eight of what was expected.

No one knows what happened to the sockeye, but one theory is that sea lice from infested fish farms is a contributing factor - that's part of the reason Julian wants the federal government to step up regulations.

Read the full story on Burnaby Now

Read related story in the:

  • Nanaimo Daily News; September 21st; "Biologist wants inquiry on salmon stocks"
  • Maple Ridge Times; September 22nd; "Call for salmon review derided by local MLA"
  •; September 22nd; "Sockeye disaster prompts call for public review by BC Minister"





Posted September 12th, 2009

Sea lice a drag on their hosts

Biologist suggests the parasites could reduce salmon survival rates

Judith Lavoie
September 9, 2009
Times Colonist

Try swimming in the Pacific Ocean wearing a backpack, and that might hint at difficulties faced by juvenile salmon when sea lice are hitching a ride, according to conservation biologist Michael Price.

After years of researching the number of lice on salmon in the Discovery Islands, where there is a high concentration of fish farms, Price believes the wrong question is being asked in the polarized and often bitter debate over sea lice and the effect of farms on wild salmon.

"A lot of the mortality work done on pink and chum focuses on the size and lethal levels of lice," Price said.

Instead, the question should be whether lice reduce survival because afflicted fish cannot swim as fast or catch as much food and are more susceptible to predation, Price said.

Arguments that bigger fish, such as sockeye, are not killed by lice, lose sight of other effects, he said.

See full story in The Times Colonist 


Posted September 11th, 2009

Canada missing boat on aquaculture: critics Study finds half of world's consumed fish is farm-raised

Mike Barber
September 8, 2009
Ottawa Citizen

A study released this week suggests half the fish the world eats is now raised on farms, presenting an opportunity for Canada to exploit a growing global hunger for seafood.

But critics say Canada is ill-prepared to cash in on the growing trend because of a fixation on farmed salmon — a species that is expensive to raise, takes a long time to grow and is not wanted by the world's rapidly developing markets.

The report, published in the online edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences by a team of international researchers, found that aquaculture across the planet more than tripled between 1995 and 2007.

Tony Farrell, one of the report's contributors, said the findings indicate a demand for protein-rich, affordable fish.

"The world is not eating wild fish, and they're switching to cultured fish," said Farrell, chairman of the University of British Columbia's Centre for Aquaculture and Environmental Research. "Canada can either move with the times, or not. As an exporting nation, we need to make decisions about this."

But relying on salmon — carnivores that take more than two years to mature — as the country's chief farmed fish would likely prevent the Canadian aquaculture industry from harnessing the continued growth, said Farrell.

Read full story in the Ottawa Citizen

Read related story in The Times Colonist (September 9, 2009); "Report Says Canada should not rely solely on salmon for farmed fishing"


Posted September 9th, 2009

Fish farms put squeeze on marine resources

Sarah Boesveld
September 8, 2009
The Globe and Mail

Half of the fish eaten globally is now farm-raised, but the surge in fish farming has put a significant strain on marine resources, a new international study has found.

Fishmeal and fish oil, made from wild forage fish such as anchovies, have long fed farmed Atlantic salmon and other carnivorous fish. But consumer demand for long-chain omega-3 fatty acids has caused the aquaculture industry to balloon, squeezing the fish-food supply so far that alternatives must be relied upon to avoid a forage fish wipeout, says lead study author Rosamond Naylor, professor of environmental earth systems science and director of the program on food security and the environment at Stanford University.

Read the full story in The Globe and Mail

See the research paper on which the article is based. "Feeding aquaculture in an era of finite resources"


Posted September 8th, 2009

Where have all the salmon gone?

And where on Earth are our public watchdogs? Scientists tipped them to this tragedy in 2007

Stephen Hume
August 25, 2009
Vancouver Sun

Approximately 130 million baby sockeye from the Chilko, Quesnel and other interior river systems -- the largest producers of the most valuable commercial stocks on the Fraser system -- appear to have vanished during their annual migration to the sea in 2007. 

This season's shortfall in predicted returns of sockeye salmon -- fewer than two million of the predicted 10.6 million are now expected to return -- actually points to something really troubling, a possible ecological catastrophe on a vast scale somewhere in the lower Fraser or the Strait of Georgia.

Read the full story in The Vancouver Sun

See the record of the September 21st, 2009 on-line discussion with Dr. Brian Riddell, CEA of the Pacific Salmon Foundation on the Globe and Mail on the topic of "Where have all the salmon gone?"

Read related story in The Campbell River Mirror - "Where have all the salmon gone?"

Read background news stories on the collapse of the Fraser River sockeye



Posted September 4th, 2009

Toxic contamination will linger at Island salmon farm site, government finds

Scott Simpson
August 25, 2009
The Vancouver Sun

Toxic contaminants from a “notorious” Kyuquot Sound salmon farm are having a lasting, negative effect on the seabed in the farm’s vicinity, according to a new provincial government report.

An August 2009 Environment Ministry study estimates that Centre Cove salmon farm will degrade seabed marine life as much as 100 metres from the site of the farm for 15 years dating from the farm’s 2004 shutdown.

The report warns that the toxic effects from metals released from the farm, notably zinc and copper, could last significantly longer. 

Read the full story in The Vancouver Sun



Posted August 26th, 2009

Action now on wild salmon

August 25, 2009
Times Colonist

The collapse of the Fraser River sockeye salmon run this year should be a wake-up call to the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans that its management plans are simply not working.

Unfortunately, DFO has shown no indication that it understands the depth of the problem, even as fewer than 20 per cent of the anticipated Fraser run have returned this year.

The Pacific Salmon Commission now forecasts 1.7 million sockeye will return to spawn in the Vancouver-area watershed this summer, compared to DFO's pre-season estimate of 10.4 million fish.


Read the full story in the Times Colonist

Read background news stories on the crash of the Fraser River sockeye


Posted August 25th, 2009

Gunner Point fish farm on track despite concerns over vanishing sockeye

Wendy Stueck
August 25, 2009
The Globe and Mail

A proposed new fish farm in Johnstone Strait has won a qualified approval from the Strathcona Regional District, which takes in the midsection of Vancouver Island and a stretch of the mainland north of Powell River.

But the Gunner Point farm still requires key permits from the province, and opponents want the government to kill the project.

"This is where the waters funnel through Johnstone Strait," Ruby Berry, a spokeswoman for Coastal Alliance for Aquaculture Reform, said Friday. "All of the juvenile salmon that migrate through the Georgia Strait have to pass by this farm."

The proposed site would be at a marine bottleneck that would put young wild salmon in the path of sea lice from the penned fish and should not be approved, Ms. Berry said.

Read the full Globe and Mail story on

Read background news stories on the Gunner Point rezoning application

Read background news stories on the crash of the Fraser River sockeye


Posted August 25th, 2009

Fish tragedy all set to happen here

Too many similarities between Atlantic cod and Pacific salmon

Brian Lewis
August 20, 2009
The Province

West Vancouver author Alex Rose comes straight to the point. The only way to avert the "catastrophic" decline and ultimate demise of Fraser River salmon stocks is to close this entire fishery.

While many commercial, First Nations and recreational-fishing stakeholders will dismiss such a step, Rose says he speaks from experience.

He's a former communications officer with Canada's Department of Fisheries and Oceans who last year published a thought-provoking book, Who Killed The Grand Banks?, that analyzed the 1992 collapse and closure of the Altantic cod fishery.

Read the full story in The Province 

Read related stories:

In the Metro News - August 24 - "Farms degrading wild salmon"

In the Nanaimo Daily News - August 21 - "Tories under fire for neglecting collapsed salmon stocks"

Read further news stories on the collapse of Fraser River sockeye 

Posted August 24th, 2009

Fraser River salmon stocks 'beyond a crisis'

Mark Hume
August 13, 2009
The Globe and Mail

The Fraser River is experiencing one of the biggest salmon disasters in recent history with more than nine million sockeye vanishing.

Aboriginal fish racks are empty, commercial boats worth millions of dollars are tied to the docks and sport anglers are being told to release any sockeye they catch while fishing for still healthy runs of chinook.

Between 10.6 million and 13 million sockeye were expected to return to the Fraser this summer. But the official count is now just 1.7 million, according to the Department of Fisheries and Oceans.

Where the nine to 11 million missing fish went remains a mystery. "It's beyond a crisis with these latest numbers," said Ernie Crey, fisheries adviser to the Sto:lo tribes on the Fraser. "What it means is that a lot of impoverished natives are going to be without salmon. ... We have families with little or no income that were depending on these fish. ... It's a catastrophe," he said.

Read the full story in The Globe and Mail

Read related stories:

In the Richmond News; August 21, 2009; "Fish farms louse up wild stocks: Biologist DFO denies sea lice from fish farms the cause of declining Fraser River sockeye""

Globe and Mail - "Calls grow for a summit on collapse of Fraser sockeye run"; August 13, 2009; "Fraser River sockeye salmon fishery closed again"

BC Local; August 11, 2009; "Disaster for sockeye as run size cut to tenth of forecast"; August 13, 2009; "Fish biologist links fish farms to disappearing Fraser River salmon"

Read further stories on the Fraser River sockeye:

October 2009

September 2009

December 2009

Read the resources materials and scientists' statement related to the December 2009 think tank "Adapting to Change - Managing Fraser sockeye in the face of declining productivity and increasing uncertainty". 



Posted August 22nd, 2009

Government officials promote 'sustainable' aquaculture in Norway while wild salmon stocks crash at home

August 17,2009

Where is Canada’s Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, Gail Shea, at a time when one of Canada’s most important commercial runs of salmon is experiencing a catastrophic collapse?  She is showcasing Canada’s aquaculture industry at the Aqua Nor international aquaculture trade show in Trondheim, Norway. 

British Columbia’s Fraser River sockeye may be down to less than ten percent of the predicted return but this has not deterred Minster Shea from joining the Canadian delegation to promote an industry associated with the demise of wild salmon worldwide (Ford and Myers 2008).

See full story on

Related information (most recent provided first):

News story RichmondNews "Dead Fish Office"

Letter from Dr. Gordon Harman to Minister of Fisheries and Oceans

See the video report (Damien Gillis) - "DFO at AquaNor While Fraser Sockeye Crash"

See the Courier-Islander for "All hail Minister Shame"


Posted August 17th, 2009

Campaign Urges King of Norway to Protect Canada’s Wild Salmon

New Film Shows Ongoing Destruction Caused by Norwegian-Owned Salmon Farms

Pure Salmon Campaign
August 17, 2009
The Dissident Voice

TRONDHEIM, NORWAY – At Aqua Nor, a biannual international aquaculture trade show, the Pure Salmon Campaign will call upon King Harald of Norway to insist that Norwegian-owned companies operating salmon farms in Canadian waters adopt strict environmental standards to protect British Columbia’s wild salmon populations.

A new documentary by filmmaker Damien Gillis shows how current practices used by Norwegian-owned companies operating in Canadian waters continue to threaten wild salmon and the iconic species that feed on them, including grizzly bears, bald eagles and killer whales. The film, Dear Norway: Help Save Canada’s Wild Salmon, also features testimonies from local scientists, fishermen and First Nations chiefs detailing the dangers posed by open-net fish farms to British Columbia’s biologically diverse ecosystems.

More than 50 Pure Salmon Campaign partners and global allies sent a letter to King Harald of Norway asking him to help protect wild fish populations from Norwegian-owned salmon farms. The campaign also invited King Harald to a screening of Dear Norway at Aqua Nor. Norway’s king officially opens this year’s trade show and will be joined by Norway’s fisheries minister, Helga Pedersen as well as the Canadian fisheries minister, Gail Shea. Aqua Nor runs from August 18-21 (The Pure Salmon Campaign’s booth is # B-111C).

“The weight of scientific evidence my colleagues and I have published in peer-reviewed journals shows that sea lice from Norwegian-owned salmon farms are pushing wild pink salmon toward extinction,” said Alexandra Morton, director of the Salmon Coast Field Station. “I personally invite the King of Norway, together with fellow passionate angler John Fredriksen, to come out to the Broughton Archipelago to bear witness themselves to the poor practices of Marine Harvest, Cermaq and Grieg.

Read the full story in Dissident Voice 

Related information:

Letter from Dr. Gordon Harman to Minister of Fisheries and Oceans

See the Pure Salmon Campaign's letter to the King of Norway

See the video report (Damien Gillis) - "DFO at AquaNor While Fraser Sockeye Crash"

See the Norwegian national television video clip of letter being handed to the King

To watch Dear Norway: Help Save Canada’s Wild Salmon

See related press release 

See The Hook for "Aquaculture trade show draws international protest"


Posted August 17th, 2009

Fish biologist links fish farms to disappearing Fraser River salmon

Charlie Smith August 13, 2009

A fish biologist with an environmental group has suggested that fish farms could be a contributing factor behind a stunning drop in the expected return of Fraser River sockeye.

Stan Proboszcz, who works for Watershed Watch Society, told the Georgia Straightthere are three theories that could help why Fisheries and Oceans Canada has missed the mark on its forecast.

• Ocean temperature changes are affecting the food dynamics for juvenile sockeye on their way out to sea.

• Warming temperatures in the Fraser River are stressing juvenile salmon, which could have an impact on mortality.

• Salmon farms in Georgia Strait are infecting juvenile sockeye with sea lice.

Read the full story on The

Posted August 13th, 2009

Whose Ocean? Whose Wild Salmon?

Corporate-Government Chooses Profit over Wild Salmon; What Do the People Choose?

Kim Petersen
August 6,2009
The Dissident Voice

Do people hold the power? If so, then why do capitalists, corporations, and their shareholders grab ever more of the wealth that used to belong to the people? Why do the forests, resources, ocean, and the wildlife become commodified or controlled by corporations?

The British Columbia capital, Victoria,1 there is only one local corporate newspaper. In the Sunday edition of the ever diminishing Times Colonistnewspaper, there appeared an advertisement very much unlike the standard ad that attempts to persuade a person based on its slickness, celebrity worship, or appeal to prurient senses. The ad was a full-page letter on the back of the A section entitled in bold: “BC speak now or forever lose your fish!” It is a rationally based appeal and is replete with footnotes to peer-review science journals and annual reports.

Addressed to the people of BC, it begins, “I am no longer certain that you want wild salmon, because every level of government that you have elected seems against them.” The biologist Alexandra Morton, who has been waging a battle against the deleterious effects of salmon farming on the wild salmon population, questions why voters opt for a government unconcerned with the plight of the wild salmon. British Columbians, by dint of their voting preferences, might be viewed as oblivious to the destruction of their five native salmon stocks.

Read the full article in The Dissident Voice

See the ad referred to in this article. 


Posted August 7th, 2009

Canada's Aborigines Respond to Aquaculture Reform

TheFishSite News Desk
August 7, 2009

CANADA - The Musgamagw-Tsawataineuk Tribal Council (MTTC) has announced that the preliminary results for the Coordinated Area Management Plan (CAMP) between Marine Harvest Canada (MHC) and the Coastal Alliance for Aquaculture Reform (CAAR) look positive.

The announcement states that preliminary studies indicate a lower level of sea lice on wild fish in the Broughton Archipelago during 2009, similar to 2008, than lice levels in the period 2003-2007. 

"The MTTC wishes to clearly communicate that the 2008 and 2009 levels of sea lice remain unacceptable as an additional risk in light of the ongoing decline of wild salmon stocks in the region and the MTTC’s reliance on the wild stocks in the exercise of our Aboriginal Rights to the food fishery," said a recent press release".

See the full story on TheFishSite

Read MTTC Press Release


Posted August 7th, 2009

Shatner's latest mission: remove fish farms

Judith Lavoie
July 31, 2009
Times Colonist

William Shatner: TV show leads to letter for PM.
He boldly went where no man has gone before on Star Trek. He won three Emmys for Boston Legal. And now William Shatner has taken on a new challenge: B.C.'s fish farms.

The actor, an avid sports fisherman, has written to Prime Minister Stephen Harper asking that salmon farms be removed from wild-salmon migration routes in the Broughton and Discovery islands. Shatner, who filmed an episode of the Boston Legal series in the Broughton Archipelago off northern Vancouver Island, says in his letter that salmon farms are having a disastrous impact on "one of Earth's most precious assets, the wild salmon and steelhead of B.C."

Read full story in The Times Colonist

See related story in The Times Colonist

Read William Shatner's letter to Prime Minister Stephen Harper


Posted July 31st, 2009

Sockeye salmon numbers crash as bust replaces bounty on BC coast

Pacific Salmon Commission cuts estimates of spawning salmon almost in half

David Karp
July 27, 2009
Vancouver Sun

What was supposed to be a bountiful year for the Fraser River sockeye salmon fishery -- the height of the four-year cycle -- is beginning to look like a bust.

Returns are so low for early Stuart sockeye, the first run of the season, that the Pacific Salmon Commission has lowered its estimate by 48 per cent.

Instead of the 165,000 projected before the season started, the commission now expects 85,000, after just 83,484 fish had shown up as of Friday.

The commission has also downgraded its pre-season projection of 739,000 early summer sockeye by 64 per cent to 264,000.

Read full story in The Vancouver Sun

Read related stories in The Globe and Mail ; The Richmond Review

Posted July 27th, 2009

SOS In the News

Business approach to salmon protection

Teresa Bird
July 22nd, 2009
North Island Gazette

What do a marine biologist, an NHL hockey player and an Alberta businessman all have in common? Salmon.

The three – Jackie Hildering, Willie Mitchell and Eric Hobson – are all part of Save Our Salmon Initiative (SOS), looking at business solutions to the negative environmental impacts of open net-cage salmon farming. Hildering is part of SOS’s four-member staff, serving as communications director. Raised in Port McNeill, Vancouver Canuck Mitchell joined the nine-person solutions advisory committee two years ago. Hobson is the founder of the organization.


Read the full story in the North Island Gazette

Posted July 26th, 2009

The Edge of Catastrophe

Ray Grigg
July 24, 2009
Courier Islander

Everyone who cares about the future of wild salmon on BC's West Coast should now have a sickening feeling in the pit of their stomachs. The recent decision of the Strathcona Regional District to zone Gunner Point for a huge open net-pen salmon farm is just another disquieting step in the fiasco that is endangering wild stocks, the linchpin of the region's entire marine ecology. So, unless an uncharacteristic epiphany stops the project or immediately converts it to closed containment, a major source of sea lice infection will be placed at the intersection of Sunderland Channel and Johnstone Strait, a major artery in the out-migration of about one-third of BC's wild salmon.

Continue reading news story at The Courier Islander.

Read background news stories. 

Posted July 24th, 2009

Sea Lice Levels Said Dropping, but Morton Issues Caution

July 24,2009
Courier Islander

Preliminary results from the joint Coastal Alliance for Aquaculture Reform (CAAR) and Marine Harvest Canada (MHC) sea lice monitoring program in the Broughton Archipelago indicate that sea lice levels in 2009 on juvenile pink and chum salmon migrating through the region are lower than in recent years.

But envionrmental activist Alexandra Mortion says that was to be expected.

Read further in the Courier Islander.

See related story in The Province , the Times Colonist and the North Island Gazette

Posted July 24th, 2009

British Columbia receives CAD 930K for eco-aquaculture projects

Natalia Real
July 13, 2009
Fish Information and Services

Minister of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) Gail Shea announced last week that six British Columbia (BC) businesses will receive over CAD 930,000 (USD 800,758) in federal aid. The aquaculture entrepreneurs will use the funds to upgrade their environmental performance, and increase productivity and economic output.

“When we invest in a stronger aquaculture sector, we are investing in more jobs and new business opportunities for communities throughout coastal BC,” Shea said. “Our goal is to make the Canadian aquaculture industry stronger, more innovative and more environmentally sustainable in this increasingly competitive sector.”

Federal funds are being offered through the Aquaculture Innovation and Market Access Programme (AIMAP). An additional CAD 848,000 (USD 730,153) will go to the six businesses courtesy of the BC Government and industry and universities. The six businesses are the BC Shellfish Growers Association, Odyssey Shellfish Ltd, Marine Harvest Canada, Walcan Seafoods Ltd, Deane V. Larson and Agrimarine Industries Inc.

Read the full story on FiS.

See related story in the Campbell River Mirror. 

Posted July 13th, 2009

Virus from Norway destroys Chile's salmon industry

Peter Cohan
June 20, 2009
Daily Finance

I recently returned from a week in Chile, the long South American country that formerly trailed Norway as the world's leading producer of Salmon. Like Norway, a large region of Chile is full of fjords whose moderate water temperatures make them an ideal breeding ground for salmon. But Infectious Salmon Anemia (ISA), a disease reportedly imported from Norway, has wiped out Chile's salmon industry quite suddenly. Now Norway is taking up the slack.

Due to ISA -- a highly contagious virus that can be lethal to fish but does not affect humans -- global farmed salmon production is expected to fall between 7 and 12 percent in 2009 to between 1.17 million and 1.24 million metric tons. ISA is wiping out most of Chile's production -- leading to a 67 percent decline to 120,000 metric tons, in 2009. 

Read the full article on Daily Finance


Posted July 13th, 2009

Salmon farms threaten tourism jobs

Colleen Kimmett
July 3, 2009
The Tyee

VANCOUVER - More jobs could be lost than gained with the creation of a new fish farm in the Johnstone Strait, argues Brian Gunn, president of the B.C. Wilderness Tourism Association (BCWTA).

 Last week, Strathcona regional district approved the third reading of a rezoning application that would allow Grieg Seafood to farm Atlantic salmon in this wild salmon migratory route.

An excerpt from Gunn's letter, which was addressed to individuals at the Agriculture and Lands ministry, Fisheries and Oceans Canada [DFO], regional district and Grieg Seafood, reads:

"Wilderness Tourism contributes $1.5 billion in direct revenues to the BC economy an generates 26,000 jobs. Our economic impact doubles to $3 billion when we include indirect and induced revenues and benefits and some 52,000 jobs. As an industry sector that depends on a resilient wild salmon resource, this aquaculture zoning decision is of extreme importance to us.

See full article on The Tyee

See press release from the Wilderness Tourism Association 

See related articles


Posted July 8th, 2009

Save Our Salmon (SOS) Initiative Information Luncheon

Dorothy Nelson
Summer 2009
Vancouver Naturalist

Two invitational luncheon/information sessions in April and May attracted a good representation of Nature Vancouver members to the Vancouver Aquarium.  We who attended on May 14 were horrified to hear the scientific evidence of the observers in the field now speaking to us on the tragic plight of wild salmon in B.C. From Chief Bob Chamberlin of the Kwicksutaineuk\Ah-Kwa-Mish First Nation, we also heard of those people whose lives are immediately affected by the loss.

Read the full article here - excerpt from The Vancouver Naturalist. 


Posted July 1st, 2009