Environmentalists push for boycott of Scottish salmon

June 29, 2012

The Global Alliance Against Industrial Aquaculture (GAAIA) has obtained data through a freedom of information (FOI) request revealing the extent of seal killing at salmon farming firms across Scotland. And the entity claims that according to the data supplied by Marine Scotland, more than 300 seals were killed during 2011 and in January-April 2012 as a result of the actions performed by certain companies such as Marine Harvest, Loch Duart, Scottish Seafarms (Leroy & Salmar), Meridian (Morpol), Hjaltland Seafarms (Grieg Seafood) and The Scottish Salmon Company (SSC).

GAAIA and Save Our Seals Fund (SOSF) are now asking the US Government to ban imports of farmed salmon and calling on retailers to boycott seafood from “seal-unfriendly” salmon farms in Scotland.
“Scotland’s seal killers should hang their heads in shame and hang up their guns,” stated Don Staniford of GAAIA. “Supermarkets such as Sainsbury’s and Tesco, which condone the killing of seals by selling ‘seal-unfriendly’ farmed salmon have blood on the hands.”

John Robins, secretary of Save Our Seals Fund in Scotland, said the groups are urging the US Department of Commerce (DOC) to apply the existing legislation to ban the import of Scottish farmed salmon.

“I hope the US Government can force Scottish salmon farmers to install seal exclusion nets, something the Scottish Government and the RSPCA [an entity that defends animals' rights in the UK] have disgracefully failed to do.  When you buy Scottish farmed salmon, even RSPCA endorsed Scottish farmed salmon, you pay for bullets to shoot seals," Robins said.

In 2011, a Scottish Government survey showed that 80 per cent of salmon farms in the country lack anti-predator nets, a measure which would preclude the need to kill seals by shooting or other means.

Scott Landsburgh, chief executive of Scottish Salmon Producers’ Organisation (SSPO), argued deterrence is hands down the most effective way to manage persistent predators that threaten fish farms.

“Fish farmers have to be able to protect their fish in the same way as a shepherd or chicken farmer would protect their livestock against foxes,” he said.

Read the full story in FIS.

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Posted June 29th, 2012

Merck introduces tools to help manage sea lice

Fish Update
June 27, 2012

MSD Animal Health (known as Merck Animal Health in the United States and Canada) recently introduced new educational tools and reference materials to support its SLICE® Sustainability Project – a comprehensive, six-step integrated strategy to help salmon producers develop lasting, sustainable control programmes for managing sea lice.

“Our aquatic team is committed to working closely with research scientists, veterinarians, producers, diagnosticians and feed specialists worldwide to develop sustainable, cost-effective sea lice control programmes for the global salmon industry,” said Robin Wardle, director of aquatic health technical services. “The range of our new educational tools and other reference material is contributing to this goal.”

Appearing at Sea Lice 2012, an international scientific conference in Bergen, MSD unveiled two 36-page colour booklets designed to help the salmon industry improve the use of SLICE (emamectin benzoate), the industry’s leading parasiticide for sea lice.

One publication, “SLICE Usage Guidelines”, was developed by aquatic health specialists at MSD to review the principles of sea lice resistance management and the key factors in developing sustainable, integrated programmes. The booklet also reviews other sea lice treatment options, timing of controls and feeding guidelines. In addition, it includes an overview of the SLICE Sustainability Project and a separate chapter with practical answers to frequently asked questions about sea lice management.

MSD also released a new “SLICE Technical Monograph” with detailed chapters on pharmacokinetics, toxicology and environmental characteristics. An extensive chapter on the efficacy of SLICE includes the latest data demonstrating the effectiveness of the product in Canada, Chile, Norway and Scotland.

Read the full story on Fish Update.

Posted June 27th, 2012

Grieg pleads not guilty to drownings

Dan MacLennan
Courier Islander
June 27, 2012

Campbell River-based Grieg Seafood BC has pleaded not guilty to nine Fisheries Act charges of drowning sea lions or seals at three of its BC salmon farms in 2009 and 2010.

Grieg was charged in January. Five of the nine counts relate to the Concepcion Point farm; three counts related to the Williamson Passage farm and one count relates to the Atrevida Point farm.

While the charges were sworn in Gold River Provincial Court, Grieg officials appeared in Campbell River Provincial Court Monday for an arraignment hearing, where the not guilty pleas were entered.

The pleas did not come as a surprise. In a February release, Grieg said the charges were "unfair and unfounded." The company said it "plans to vigorously present the facts" surrounding the charges. The company said the charges appeared to refer to the accidental drowning of 52 California sea lions and one harbour seal over a six-month period in early 2010.

"As salmon farmers we take our stewardship of the natural ocean environment and all marine life very seriously and believe that any marine mammal death is unacceptable," Managing director Stewart Hawthorn said at the time. "We were very surprised to learn that the DFO have filed charges against us for incidents that we ourselves reported back in 2010. We believe the charges are unfair and unfounded.

Read the full story in the Courier Islander.

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Posted June 27th, 2012

Global warming tragedy: Fraser River salmon dying as climate change heats up waters

Vancouver Observer
June 26, 2012

Global warming has already significantly changed our Fraser River. Its waters are warming and its flows are shifting to earlier in the year. By summer when the legendary salmon runs surge into the river to spawn, the river is more often becoming too warm and low for their survival. Already more and more salmon are dying en route to the spawning grounds. Fishing quotas are being cut back to make up for it.

Experts predict far more "dramatic changes" lie ahead unless humans switch away from climate polluting energy sources. They say our salmon will be hard pressed to survive and thrive in the new overheated Fraser River we are creating.

The Fraser River drains a watershed larger than the state of Washington. The CO2 from the burning of oil, coal and natural gas has changed the climate significantly in this huge watershed. Average air temperatures are rising, average snowpack is declining and rainfall has changed throughout of the year. The river that drains his huge changing landscape is being changed as a result.

Read the full story in the Vancouver Observer.

Posted June 26th, 2012

Fish farm quarantined after suspected ISA outbreak [East Coast]

June 20, 2012

There is evidence of another outbreak of infectious salmon anemia at one of Cooke Aquaculture's fish farms in Nova Scotia.

Cooke spokesperson Nell Halse said the company is co-operating with the Canadian Food Inspection Agency and provincial inspectors.

"We are also pressing CFIA to move much more quickly with their lab work as we are anxious to move quickly and aggressively to remove suspect fish to protect the rest of the farm," she said, without identifying which fish farm it was.

"This is a relatively small farm and the two cages represent only one per cent of our production in the province, so it does not (affect) our overall plans for Nova Scotia."

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency said it began an investigation June 12, and has quarantined the facility. Preliminary tests indicate the presence of ISA, but further confirmation is necessary, according to the agency.

Read the full story in CBC News.

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Posted June 21st, 2012

Toxic Levels of Copper Found in Port Mouton Bay

Atlantic Farmer
June 20, 2012

Open-net fish farm practices are causing sea-surface and sediment contamination by the release of toxic levels of copper, and putting marine life at risk near the open-net fish farm in Port Mouton Bay, Queens County, Nova Scotia.

This is the result of a study completed by Halifax oceanographer Dr. Ronald H. Loucks, which has been published in the internationally recognized scientific journal Marine Pollution Bulletin.

“This is new and valuable information,” says Dr. Loucks, “and points to seriously harmful contaminants found in parts of the ocean layer not currently monitored by government regulators.” The sea-surface microlayer is less than one millimeter thick, and Dr. Loucks believes this to be the first study to examine this layer for copper near an open-net fish farm. Other investigations have found trace metals, bacteria, viruses and pesticides accumulating in the microlayer.

The study identifies that the copper contamination in both the sediment and the sea-surface microlayer exceeds guideline levels for the protection of marine life. In the microlayer, it exceeds guidelines by up to 11 times. Copper is used both in the fish feed used in fish farms and in the anti-foulant compounds used for cleaning the farm nets. The copper can travel and contaminate surface areas over distances greater than one kilometer, given the wind velocities in Port Mouton Bay. Unfortunately, lobster and fish eggs are at risk if they enter the microlayer layer at this stage of their life cycle.

Copper was still found to be present 27 months after the beginning of the fallow (emptying) of the farm site.

Read the full story in the Atlantic Farmer.

Posted June 20th, 2012

Grieg gets BAP certification for four more of its farm sites

June 20, 2012

The Global Aquaculture Alliance, the leading standards-setting organization for aquaculture seafood, awarded its Best Aquaculture Practices (BAP) certification to four more Grieg Seafood BC farms.

According to a Grieg release, the company became the first salmon farmer in the world to have multiple farms achieve the certification in December of last year.

"These newest certifications build on that accomplishment and our ongoing commitment to industry leading standards," said Stewart Hawthorn, Grieg's managing director. "With this, eight of Grieg's 12 active farms are now BAP certified, while nine of Grieg's 21 locations are currently fallow to allow the seabeds to rest and regenerate.

"We have also committed to certifying additional farms with the ultimate goal of being fully BAP certified. This will be an ongoing initiative, as each new farm of young salmon must be newly certified, and that certification concludes when those salmon are harvested.

To become certified, each new farm must be individually and personally inspected by an independent and certified auditor to ensure it meets specific criteria and standards."

The Global Aquaculture Alliance's review process involves an audit of social responsibility, food safety, animal welfare, traceability and biosecurity processes and systems. Best Aquaculture Practices certification standards for salmon farms incorporate ongoing guidelines and quantitative criteria for veterinary care, nets, and feed content and ratios.

Read the full story in the Courier-Islander.

Posted June 20th, 2012

'The industry needs to focus on the long term, says SalmonChile [Chile]

June 19, 2012

The lack of long-term strategies was largely what led the Chilean salmon industry to the crisis faced in recent years, according to the president of the Association of Salmon Industry AG (SalmonChile), María Eugenia Wagner.

[Salmon farming] "is a young industry, which is just over 25 years old and which needs to focus on the long term to be sustainable," said the leader.

However, Wagner argues that to be sustainable it is also necessary to work while taking the present into account.

In this regard, she highlighted that a few days ago, SalmonChile and ProChile launched the first public-private partnership campaign of the salmon farming industry for the Brazilian market in order to promote the consumption of this product.

The supporters of the initiative stated that this month the campaign will begin in the distribution and sale chain of Brazil.

For Wagner, this is the starting point for developing new markets, given the price decrease and the rising costs as a consequence of the changes in the health requirements, El Mercurio reported.

Read the full story on FIS.

Posted June 18th, 2012

Lice numbers under the spotlight [Scotland]

Fish News EU
June 13, 2012

A report published today by the Salmon and Trout Association (S&TA) claims to include evidence of widespread failure to control sea lice in the Scottish salmon farming industry.

S&TA analysis of the inspections conducted by the Scottish Government’s Fish Health Inspectorate between June and December 2011 shows that over 30% of the marine farms inspected were breaching the industry’s own Code of Good Practice on sea lice standards. Either resistance to, of lack of efficacy of, sea-lice treatments was also recorded at 17% of sites.

Hughie Campbell-Adamson, Chairman of S&TA Scotland, said: “Contrary to all the bland assurances the salmon farmers’ trade body, the SSPO, give to conservation bodies, to Marine Scotland and to the supermarkets which buy their fish, the information obtained by S&TA shows that sea lice are not controlled on over 30% of salmon farms and control with chemicals is becoming more difficult. This is not good news for wild fish.

“These figures explain why the industry has argued so vehemently against the publication of farm specific weekly sea lice counts in its response to Scottish Government proposals for the forthcoming Scottish Aquaculture and Fisheries Bill, but the case for legislative action is now cast-iron”.

The S&TA add that there are already reports this summer of very high densities of sea lice larvae in the coastal margins of parts of the northwest Highlands and netting of juvenile sea trout for monitoring purposes has found many to be carrying alarmingly high lice burdens – at levels which are likely to prove fatal.

The S&TA believes that the fish farming industry can thrive alongside healthy self-supporting wild fish populations; but only if those existing fish farms in sensitive locations are relocated away from the wild salmonid rivers and, ultimately, the industry moves into closed-containment systems which almost entirely eliminate polluting discharges to the sea and create a ‘biological separation’ between wild and farmed fish.

Read the full story on Fish News EU.


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Posted June 13th, 2012

Wild salmon likely cause of fish farm virus: experts

CTV News
June 11, 2012

Fisheries experts say they believe wild salmon are the cause of a virus outbreak on a Vancouver Island fish farm.

The outbreak of the IHN virus at Mainstream Canada's Dixon Bay farm near Tofino has led to the cull of more than half-a-million salmon.

An official at the Centre for Aquatic Health Sciences in Campbell River says research suggests the virus was carried by sockeye salmon migrating into the area.

Sonja Saksida says the IHN outbreak appears to be a reversal of an argument against the industry raised by critics.

Those critics have long feared that Atlantic salmon raised in open-net cages in the ocean can pass on diseases to wild salmon.

Gary Marty, a veterinarian and fish pathologist for B.C.'s Ministry of Agriculture, says wild Pacific salmon have built up a resistance to the virus, but Atlantic salmon have not.

Read the full story in CTV News.

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Posted June 11th, 2012

Groups fight back after Conservatives try to dilute environmental laws

Fourth in a four-part series

Gordon Hoekstra
June 8, 2012
Vancouver Sun

Discord between the Tories and environmentalists began when the federal natural resources minister maligned environmental groups as radicals. It escalated with the introduction of Bill C-38, a package of new laws, some directly targeting charities and environmental protections.

Now it’s war.

Environmental groups are fighting back after the Conservatives accused them of hijacking public decision-making and using foreign funding to damage national economic interests. Their target is Bill C-38 which opponents say weakens fish habitat protection and strengthens the taxman’s powers to question charities.

The changes will bring more scrutiny to foreign funding for charities and also how they use money for political purposes. Charities will also have to take more responsibility for the political activities of groups to which they give money.

It will give bureaucrats new powers to suspend the charitable status of groups, a designation that helps organizations raise money by allowing them to issue receipts for tax deductions.

And Bill C-38 will give an extra $8 million to the Canada Revenue Agency for stepped-up audits of those groups.

Now that Prime Minister Stephen Harper has a majority, his government will be able to push through the new laws before parliament breaks for the summer.

Environmental organizations that operate in B.C. are fearful of the changes, but not cowed.

They say they will continue to speak against projects that would carry Alberta oilsands crude to the B.C. coast, including Kinder Morgan’s proposed $4.1-billion Trans Mountain pipeline expansion to the Lower Mainland and Enbridge’s $5.5 billion Northern Gateway pipeline to Kitimat.

Read the full story in the Vancouver Sun.

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Posted June 8th, 2012

BC taken to task for failure to inform public: Government has violated its duty to release information about incidents that put health and safety at risk, study finds

Stephen Hume
June 6, 2012
Vancouver Sun

The provincial government routinely fails its legal duty to promptly inform citizens of risks to public health and safety, warn legal scholars at the University of Victoria.

Failures to disclose include air pollution, deteriorating infrastructure, parasite infestations, contaminated water and disease risk. Relevant information has been withheld from potential victims, scientists and the media - in some cases for almost a decade, says the university's Environmental Law Clinic following a study of six cases across B.C.

On Tuesday, the group asked the province's information and privacy commissioner for a full investigation into what it says appears to be "an ongoing system-wide failure" by government to disclose in timely fashion information with clear public safety implications.

The pattern needs to be addressed "before a catastrophe occurs," it warned.

"Concerns about 'panicking' the public must not become an excuse for withholding information," the call for investigation says. "In many cases, the fact that the information is alarming is precisely why it must be disclosed."

The submission, filed on behalf of the B.C. Freedom of Information and Privacy Association, says that under provincial law, public bodies are required to act "without delay" in publicly disclosing information about any "risk of significant harm to the environment or to the health or safety of the public."

This duty overrides any other provisions in the law and requires authorities to disclose even if there has been no specific request for information. But authorities appear to apply too narrow and restrictive an interpretation of what the act requires, the researchers say.

Read the full story in the Vancouver Sun.

Posted June 6th, 2012

Groups rally against ocean-based salmon farming in Nova Scotia

Aly Thomson
June 3, 2012
Winnipeg Free Press

Coastal communities in Nova Scotia are uniting to halt expansion plans for ocean-based salmon farms in the province.

More than 100 community groups and organizations will be in Halifax on Monday to protest the government's lack of public consultation prior to the release of a strategy that would see more open-net pen salmon farms erected across the province.

Open-net pen marine aquaculture involves fish that are grown in nets in the ocean, said Bruce Hancock, executive director of the Aquaculture Association of Nova Scotia.

Silver Donald Cameron, a journalist and writer of the upcoming documentary Salmon Wars, said coastal residents have serious concerns about the plans outlined in the strategy.

"The issue has kind of created its own little movement," said Cameron in Halifax on Sunday.

Cameron said the groups are not against aquaculture, but rather the government's plans to expand the $50-million industry without having consulted the public.

Hancock said the strategy does not mean there is no room for discussions with the public.

"In no way is this strategy... considered consultation for new sites," said Hancock from Coldbrook, N.S. on Sunday. "Every new site that would be entertained in this province would have to go through the normal environmental assessment process, which includes consultation with the public."

"That's all this document is. It's how we move this industry forward."

Cameron said the province hasn't considered the possibly damaging environmental effects.

"We need to give it a serious look, get some expertise on this thing," said Cameron.

"That doesn't seem a lot to ask... to hold some meetings and get people's opinions and address the issues that they have."

There's a catalogue of problems that can arise from open-net pen farming, said Cameron.

He said the fish feces, along with dead fish and excess food, can pollute the surrounding sea water. He said dangerous and sometimes illegal pesticides are also used to tackle sea lice.

"It's a long, long list of problems... and they're caused by the fact that the farms are in the sea. If they were in closed containment on land, almost none of these things would occur."

Read the full story in the Winnipeg Free Press.

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Posted June 5th, 2012

Canada lays down new rules for organic farmed salmon

Fish Update
June 4, 2012

Canada has launched a new set of organic ground rules for its farmed salmon and other aquaculture products.

The Canadian General Standards Board has released official details of its new standards which lay down the rules which ensure that farm fishing production methods meet or exceed the Canadian standard for organic aquaculture production” in finfish, shell fish and aquatic plants.

Like other organic foods, the new standards do not permit antibiotics, herbicides and genetically modified organisms to be used in fish farming production methods and there are also restrictions on the use of  parasiticides along with a number of other regulations. The treatment of pen nets with antifoulants is also not permitted.

Around half of the seafood eaten in Canada is from farmed methods, but this sector has had its critics in the past year particularly from some conservation organisations.

The General Standards Board also concedes that not everyone will be happy with what has been agreed but the Canadian Organic Trade Association said critics should regard the new Canadian organic aquaculture standards as a beginning of a regime which can be built on in the years ahead.


Read the full story on Fish Update.

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Posted June 4th, 2012

Nova Scotia to study closed containment

Seafood Source
June 1, 2012

Nova Scotia’s new aquaculture development strategy, released by the provincial government on Tuesday, may give closed-containment aquaculture a lift in the region.

Currently, the province’s CAD 45 million finfish- and shellfish-farming industry occurs predominately in pens along the coast, with salmon accounting for more than 80 percent of the industry’s annual revenues.

But the new strategy calls on the government to study the feasibility of closed-containment aquaculture, and CAD 60,000 is being put aside to do so. Currently, there are 20 land-based aquaculture facilities in Nova Scotia.

But moving the region’s aquaculture industry onshore is prohibitively expensive, costing farmers CAD 1.5 billion, in addition to the price of the land, reported the Chronicle Herald on Wednesday. That includes New Brunswick’s aquaculture industry, which is four times larger than Nova Scotia’s.

Thought the closed-containment study was met with some skepticism, overall the new strategy was supported by the region’s finfish and shellfish farmers, which they say will provide them with a framework to grow their businesses.

Read the full story in Seafood Source.

Posted June 1st, 2012

MLAs end wild session marked by blitz of bills

Liberals leave legislation dangling amid swirl of political uncertainty

Rob Shaw
June 1, 2012
Times Colonist

Provincial politicians left for summer break Thursday after a tumultuous legislative session that included the return of the provincial sales tax, two byelection defeats for the governing Liberals, a high profile defection to the B.C. Conservatives and an avalanche of bills that ultimately overwhelmed MLAs.


The government introduced 35 bills since February, including 14 in May alone.


That logjam caused the Liberals to bring down the hammer on debate, pushing several complex items, such as changes to unconstitutional drunk-driving rules, past MLAs in as little as 30 to 60 minutes per law.

Four bills, including a gag law on animal disease outbreaks, didn't make the cut Thursday and were pushed off to an unknown future.

"We've been going through what I characterize as the lightning round of legislation," complained NDP house leader John Horgan.

"We've had half an hour of debate on one bill that had just been tabled on Monday. Thirty minutes for 85 members of the legislature to dine upon the wisdom of the legislative drafters."

Read the full story in the Times Colonist. 

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Posted June 1st, 2012

Three Keys to Sockeye Decline

The Fish Site
May 30, 2012

Competition with pink salmon in the open ocean could be an important factor in the long-term decline of Fraser River sockeye salmon populations, according to a new study by Simon Fraser University (SFU) scientists and international colleagues.

Salmon farming along migration routes for juvenile Fraser River sockeye and warming sea temperatures could also play a role.

“None of these three factors can explain much of the declines in sockeye salmon by themselves,” says Brendan Connors, a post-doctoral fellow in SFU’s School of Resource and Environmental Management (REM).

But when considered in combination “they appear to play a very important role.”

Mr Conners, lead author of the study published May 17 in the journal Conservation Letters, says increasing numbers of pink salmon across the North Pacific Ocean appear to be leading—directly or indirectly—to increasing competition for food with Fraser sockeye. The results are particularly evident in years when the juvenile sockeye salmon first migrate past large numbers of farmed salmon.

“It is possible that passing close to salmon farms early in their ocean life may weaken the ability of sockeye to compete for food with pink salmon in the open ocean,” says co-author Lawrence Dill.

“This could arise if sockeye pick up viruses, bacteria or parasites as they pass by salmon farms,” adds Mr Dill, fellow of the Royal Society of Canada and professor emeritus of SFU Biological Sciences.

Read the full story on the Fish Site.

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Connors, B. M., Braun, D. C., Peterman, R.M., Cooper, A. B., Reynolds, J. D., Dill, L. M., Ruggerone, G. T. and Krkošek, M. (2012), Migration links ocean-scale competition and local ocean conditions with exposure to farmed salmon to shape wild salmon dynamicsConservation Letters. doi: 10.1111/j.1755-263X.2012.00244.x 

Posted May 30th, 2012

Native actions are a different kettle of fish

Mary Teresa Bitti
May 30, 2012
National Post

The backdrop: This month, the B.C. Court of Appeal overturned a B.C. Supreme Court decision to certify a class action on behalf of a group of aboriginal collectives.

The plaintiff in the case, Chief Robert Chamberlin of the Kwicksutaineuk/AhKwaMish First Nation (the KAFN), wanted to bring a class action on behalf of all aboriginal collectives that have treaty rights to fish wild salmon for sustenance in the Broughton Archipelago. The allegation was that the regulation of fish farming had been negligent and the fish farms were causing a decline in wild salmon, harming the way of life for the aboriginal rights holders. Chief Chamberlin was seeking damages and the restoration of the wild salmon on behalf of all of the class members.

It was a bold move. In fact, as far as any of the principals in the case can tell, it was the first time a pure claim for aboriginal rights was pursued as a class action. "That's because virtually every aboriginal rights case brought in Canada is brought as a representative action," says James Sullivan, partner in the Vancouver office of Blake, Cassels & Graydon LLP and counsel for the province in the case. "This was a great departure and the Court of Appeal in B.C. said it was not the right way to enforce communal rights by an aboriginal collective."

While there were a host of reasons put forward by the province as to why the case should not go forward as a class action, the court very deliberately zeroed in on the nature of the rights held by aboriginal people.

See the full article in the National Post. 

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Clear here for the Court ruling. 

Posted May 30th, 2012

Salmon group keen to hook investors in land-based farm

Bill Power
May 28, 2012
Chronicle Herald

The Atlantic Salmon Federation has tossed a line to potential investors in a land-based farming operation for the species.

“There is increasing interest within our organization and on the investor side in a contained on-land salmon farm that would be an alternative to open-net pen salmon aquaculture,” Bill Taylor, president and chief executive officer of the federation, said in an interview.

The federation is especially interested in the success with other species of Sustainable Blue, in Centre Burlington in Hants County, and also in the related Nova Scotia Arctic Char business operated by the Millbrook First Nation near Truro.

The federation has lobbied long and hard against a proliferation in Nova Scotia of offshore salmon farms.

It contends regular escapes from the pens, and disease, threaten the health of local wild salmon and argues the big water-based farms constitute an environmental threat.

These criticisms are dismissed as inaccurate by operators of water-based farms, who contend land-based salmon farming is uneconomical.

The federation has organized a tour Thursday of the Sustainable Blue operation and also of the Millbrook Arctic char operation to drum up interest among potential investors.

Representatives of the federation, together with some potential investors, want to take a first-hand look at these operations.

Read the full story in the Chronicle Herald.

Posted May 28th, 2012

Cuts To Ocean Monitoring Program “Appalling”

CTV News
May 22, 2012

Peter Ross is a world-class scientist and expert on how man-made toxins affect killer whales. By next April, he could also be unemployed along with 74 others across the country. “It’s a disturbing sign for a country that used to pride itself on the scientific research establishment we had” he says.

Ross is one of nine people in North Saanich who will lose their jobs when the Department of Fisheries and Oceans shuts down its entire contaminants program, which he says will leave five junior biologists to monitor pollution in Canada’s three oceans. “I can’t think of another country in the world that has a coastline that doesn’t have some form of scientific capacity to look at the threat pollution represents to the health of our oceans.”

Victoria Zoologist Anna Hall’s take on the cuts isn’t any kinder. “It’s just astonishing to me this is happening right now, and internationally, as a scientist, it’s embarrassing.”

Hall calls closing the program – reckless. “Some may say who cares if a killer whale has contamination. It doesn’t affect me in my life, but in fact it does…killer whales eat salmon, some of us eat salmon. They swim in the ocean; some of us let our dogs & children swim in the ocean.”

It’s unclear if the shut-down will affect how Canada reacts to the arrival of tonnes of marine debris from the tsunami in Japan. Volunteer groups who organize shoreline cleanups on Vancouver Island, like the Surfrider Foundation, are wondering the same thing. “Right now is really a time to start planning and thinking how we’re going to deal with this influx of marine debris” says the foundation’s Vancouver Island Chair, Lucas Harris.

Read the full story on CTV News

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Posted May 28th, 2012

Gag order on identifying fish farms with potential disease sparks debate

Judith Lavoie
May 26, 2012
Times Colonist

Critics who speak publicly about a disease outbreak on a fish farm don't need to fear retribution because of new provincial legislation, says the province's chief veterinarian.

Confidentially measures in the Animal Health Act, introduced last month, that override the Freedom of Information Act refer only to those administering the act, such as inspectors and laboratory technicians, said Paul Kitching.

"It is people who come into [the situation] as part of their job," Kitching said.

"It's because we need farmers' co-operation. If the farmer feels any information he gives us will be in the media the next day, there will be concerns."

The gag order does not extend to others and the ban will be lifted once a disease is confirmed, Kitching said.

"The information would be made public once it was confirmed. You don't put a quarantine on a farm and not tell anyone," he said.

The legislation, which was previously out of date, brings B.C. into line with most other provinces and ensures unconfirmed disease scares do not affect the market, Kitching said.

However, fish-farm critic and biologist Alexandra Morton, who has conducted her own laboratory tests on salmon and frequently speaks about potential threats to wild salmon from fish-farm disease, finds the legislation alarming — especially as it specifies penalties ranging up to fines of $75,000 or two years in jail.

"I have no idea what is going on here," she said.

In a letter to Morton, Vincent Gogolek, executive director of the Freedom of Information and Privacy Association, says she is right to be concerned.

"The definitions are very broad and the penalties are being specially set at well beyond the level of other offences," he wrote.

"The intention is clearly to prevent any release of information re. disease outbreaks and to severely punish anyone who does release that information."

Source: Times Colonist

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See B.C.'s Animal Health Act Bill 37 

Posted May 27th, 2012

Norway attempts to tackle lice

May 23, 2012
Fish News EU

THE 9th International Sea Lice Conference is currently underway in Bergen and was addressed by Norwegian State Secretary Kristine Gramstad, who warned that lice levels were still a barrier to the growth of the industry, although she feels that they can develop the tools to deal with the problem.

Gramstad stressed that: “For me the development of the salmon farming industry represents one of Norway’s greatest success stories. It is the Government’s objective that the Norwegian aquaculture industry should continue to grow. However, further growth can only take place within the limits of environmental sustainability. This is why we stopped the increase in production capacity in 2010 and this is why the sea lice situation will be a central factor when we evaluate the possibility for growth this year. The driving force for achieving environmental sustainability should be the industry itself, but for me it means strong commitments to governance, research and development.

“The regulation of sea lice in Norwegian fish farms has become significantly stricter over the recent years. The numbers of lice per farmed fish is being kept rather low and do not represent a health or welfare problem for farmed fish. However, given the amount of farmed fish in Norwegian fjords and thereby the high number of hosts for sea lice, the lice population in Norwegian fish farms could in some areas represent a potential threat for wild salmonids.

“The regulations for sea lice are currently under revision and proposal for new and stricter rules went on a three months public consultation in March. It is proposed to require more coordination between fish farmers in their sea lice control. It is also proposed a shift from a threshold limit for lice per fish to a maximum limit. The maximum limit will ensure a more proactive sea lice control. In addition stricter regulations for sensitivity tests for drugs used in sea lice control are proposed.

“As sea lice now is considered mainly a problem for the wild salmonids our strategy is to shift the focus from considering the sea lice limit in fish farms only, but also taking the sea lice infestations on wild salmonids into account when deciding upon measures in aquaculture. As there is controversy surrounding the impact of sea lice form farmed fish on wild stocks we are now putting great effort into establishing first generation indicators and threshold values for the effect of lice in fish farms on wild salmonids. These will be based on today’s knowledge and then be evaluated and adjusted as new knowledge is available.

Read the full story on Fish News EU.

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Posted May 27th, 2012

Meet salmon farming's worst enemy: a determined biologist

Craig Welch
May 26, 2012
Seattle Times

She's perched in her boat near a fish farm, talking about diseases, the kind that might escape and kill wild salmon. Then she spies a worker peeling toward her in a boat.

Alexandra Morton, bane of North America's salmon farms, runs a hand over tired eyes and awaits a confrontation.

It's no surprise this eco-provocateur is again in someone's sights.

The biologist has spent countless days just like this — zipping through a pristine jumble of uninhabited bays and islands to check on Canada's remote fish farms. Few activists try harder to convince the globe that salmon farming threatens the marine world. Few are taken as seriously — much to the chagrin of her many enemies.

It was Morton who stunned U.S. scientists last fall with trace evidence found in wild salmon of a virus that killed millions of farmed fish in Chile.

Researchers from Washington state to Washington, D.C., scrambled to grasp the risks of so-called infectious salmon anemia (ISA), a virus typically linked to fish farms. Congress demanded federal agencies test American fish. Wild-salmon lovers seethed. Leaders of British Columbia's $500 million-a-year salmon-farming industry scoffed — in part because they so distrust Morton.

Then, just last week, another virus raced through salmon farms at Vancouver Island and Bainbridge Island, forcing operators to kill hundreds of thousands of farmed fish on both sides of the border. Unlike ISA, this virus, infectious hematopoietic necrosis (IHN), is native to wild Northwest salmon, but experts worry that the clustering of nonnative Atlantic salmon in farm-fish net pens could amplify the pathogen and make it more virulent or cause it to mutate into something far more deadly for wild stocks.

Now, as researchers in both countries struggle to determine if a wild fish-killing pathogen is here or coming, Morton — a Connecticut native and former killer-whale biologist — is everywhere. She's testifying in Canadian court, blogging about viruses, shuttling about in her sea dory. She gathers farmed-fish heads at ethnic groceries and travels the province teaching groups to sample fish. She hunts for clues to support her belief that Atlantic-salmon farms are big trouble.

Read the full story in the Seattle Times.

Read related articles on the IHN outbreak.

Posted May 26th, 2012

Environmental coalition pulls out of talks with B.C.'s largest fish-farm company

Winnipeg Free Press
May 26, 2012

A unique relationship meant to reduce conflict between environmental groups and British Columbia's largest salmon farming company has fallen apart.

The Coastal Alliance for Aquaculture Reform and Marine Harvest Canada confirmed Saturday that the project, known as the Framework for Dialogue, is officially over.

It appears the two sides could not agree on research related to sea lice and closed- containment farming. What remains unclear now is whether or not more conflict is coming to the often testy and confrontational debate over salmon farming.

"The industry growing salmon in British Columbia is continuing to improve," said Clare Backman, a spokesman for Marine Harvest Canada.

"Along the road to improvement and reducing impacts, folks can find things to take issue with, and they're gong to continue to do that. In terms of more conflict, I can't say. It would depend on issues that people choose to take issue with."

When it was signed Jan. 12, 2006, the Framework for Dialogue included nine environmental organizations and First Nations, as well as Marine Harvest.

Participants agreed to focus on the industry's environmental, social and economic factors, reduce conflict, and change practices when information showed there was an impact on the environment and wild salmon.

But in recent years the membership dropped to just four environmental groups, including the David Suzuki Foundation, Georgia Strait Alliance, Living Oceans Society, T. Buck Suzuki Foundation, as well as the company.

Backman said the company was informed of the coalition's decision by letter last week.

But one environmental group said Marine Harvest had ceased to be an active member before the letter was sent.

"What we've found over time is they have pulled out of any significant joint work that could actually have any positive results," said Ruby Berry, a spokeswoman for the Georgia Strait Alliance.

Berry pointed to research on sea lice, saying the coalition was still awaiting results on tests.

And a report contrasting the economics of raising salmon in closed-containment systems versus open-net farms in the ocean was only three-quarters complete, she added.

The company also cancelled a pilot project to build a closed-containment system, she said.

The decision to end the agreement has been in the works for some time, she said.

Read the full story in the Winnipeg Free Press.

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Posted May 26th, 2012

Hatchery salmon threaten wild salmon survival: studies

May 15, 2012
FIS World News

More than 20 studies by leading university scientists and government fishery researchers offer swelling evidence that salmon raised in man-made hatcheries can harm wild salmon stocks as the fish compete for food and habitat.

The studies were conducted by researchers in Alaska, British Columbia, Washington, Oregon, California, Russia and Japan.

"The genetic effects of mixing hatchery fish with wild populations have been well-documented," said David Noakes from Oregon State University. "But until now the ecological effects were largely hypothetical. Now we know the problems are real and warrant more attention from fisheries managers."

Published in the May issue of Environmental Biology of Fishes, the research volume gathers 23 peer-reviewed, independent studies done across the entire range of Pacific salmon.

The research suggests questions about whether the ocean can supply enough food to sustain wild salmon if there are further increases in hatchery fish.

"This isn't just an isolated issue," says Pete Rand, a biologist at the Wild Salmon Centre and a guest editor of the publication. "What we're seeing here in example after example is growing scientific evidence that hatchery fish can actually edge out wild populations."

Fewer wild salmon would mean less of the genetic diversity that has allowed salmon to evolve and thrive. Unlike hatchery fish, wild salmon populations have highly specialized adaptations to the natural environment that enhance their ability to endure environmental changes like higher ocean temperatures and extreme variations in stream flows.

For decades, hatchery programmes in the US, Canada, Russia and Japan have released billions of fish into the wild -- and the increasing global demand for salmon may lead to further hatchery production.

"Five billion juvenile salmon are released each year worldwide, and the prospect of additional increases in hatchery production is worrisome for the long-term survival of wild salmon," Rand said.

Read the full story in FIS.

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Posted May 15th, 2012

Onshore salmon farm plan

Brian Moore
May 10, 2012
Southern Star

While Marine Harvest Ireland await planning permission for a new salmon farm development off Shot Head in Bantry Bay, another company have set their sights on Reen Point as an ideal location for their own salmon farming project.

However, the Norwegian firm behind this latest fish farm proposal for Bantry Bay have an altogether different plan to produce 3,300 tonnes of salmon per annum from the site just outside Bantry town. Unlike the Marine Harvest application, Niri Seafood Ireland Ltd plan to produce their salmon in an on-shore closed containment facility at what was previously a mussel producing plant at Reen Point.

A statement from Niri Seafood Ireland Ltd claims that the facility at Reen Point is an ideal location for their business because all of the required infrastructure is already in place. ‘On-shore closed containment fish farming can produce salmon and other species at lower cost than conventional sea cage farming. Fresh salmon from such production facilities will be cheaper to deliver in the EU and other markets than salmon from Norwegian sea cages. Full-scale trials of the technology have been carried out in Norway,’ a spokesperson for Niri Seafood Ireland said.

In addition to the facilities already in place at Reen Point, Niri will construct ten outdoor insulated tanks, which will be fully enclosed. These tanks will house the growing salmon.

A spokesperson for the Save Bantry Bay (SBB) committee said that they welcome this new salmon farm proposal.

Read the full story in the Southern Star.

Posted May 10th, 2012

Farmed salmon price decline continues to drag down Norway seafood exports

Fish Update
May 8, 2012

Norwegian seafood exports fell by 12 per cent during April of this year, with markets continuing to be affected by the reduction in salmon prices. There were also lower exports of other species such as herring and some types of cod.

The latest figures show that last month Norway exported seafood worth NOK 3.7 billion a decline of NOK 501-million or 12 per cent down compared with April 2011. So far this year, seafood exports are valued at NOK 16.8 billion, a decline of  NOK 1.1 billion  or six per cent  compared to same period last year.
Egil Ove Sundheim, director of market information at the Norwegian Seafood, said: "One of the main reasons for the decline in export value of Norwegian seafood is that salmon prices in April fell by 30 per cent compared with the record level in 2011.  In addition, we see that part of the trade has moved to Norway inventories, partly as a result of the economic challenges faced by many importers in Europe."

Read the full story on Fish Update.

Posted May 8th, 2012

Weighing the risks of salmon farming [New Zealand]

Marlborough Express
May 7, 2012

Where are we and what do we know? A recent study by the Department of Conservation and the Marlborough District Council found 129 ecologically significant marine sites in the Marlborough Sounds. Many of them are already degraded. The same report advised a reduction in the amounts of contaminants reaching the marine environment.

The Marlborough regional policy statement does not promote the free release of waste in our waterways, such as from concentrated finfish farming.

King Salmon has only surveyed bottom substrates which amounts to 15 per cent of the waste, not the wider environmental impacts in which the other 85 per cent of their waste is released.

In 2009, the highest level of organic pollution at any of the NZKS farms was recorded under the Waihinau operation in the Pelorus Sound (Cawthron report 1740). Also zinc and copper were at levels above or near the highest set criteria (Cawthron report).

King Salmon does not monitor the release of nitrogen in the Marlborough Sounds. Increases of nitrogen can create a shift in plankton communities and plankton biomass. This process can push the environment in a cycle of harmful algal blooms miles from the farm site.

We do not know how much King Salmon has already pushed the functionality of the environment in this direction because King Salmon has never ordered a report to be done. 

Read the full story in the Marlborough Express.

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Posted May 7th, 2012

Salmon inquiry weighs risk from habitat protection reform

Jeff Nagel
May 4, 2012
Surrey North Delta Leader

The Cohen Inquiry into the Fraser River's troubled sockeye salmon stocks is shifting gears to consider last-minute arguments about controversial proposed reforms to the federal Fisheries Act.

Participants at the inquiry have been given until May 14 to table their submissions on the impact of the changes that critics say will gut the law that protects fish habitat.

"What commission counsel has done is said if something wasn't in your final submissions that this new bill impacts, you're welcome to make another submission and we'll look at those," inquiry spokesperson Carla Shore said.

The Conservative government's budget implementation bill includes the contentious amendments to the Fisheries Act.

If passed, the clause protecting fish habitat by banning "harmful alteration, disruption and destruction" of fish habitat will be removed and replaced with one that outlaws "serious harm" to stocks fished by commercial, recreational or aboriginal users.

Federal officials have described it as a more practical approach that focuses more on real threats to productive fisheries and less on blanket protection of riparian ecosystems.

No longer would authorization always be required to disrupt any fish habitat, for example, if the planned work doesn't affect stocks used by any fisheries.

Watershed Watch Salmon Society executive director Craig Orr, who chairs a coalition of conservation groups with standing at the inquiry, said he and other participants will definitely file their concerns.

"It raises the threshold for what is considered to be serious harm to fish," he said.

"Without a doubt we all think this really does strike at the heart of what Cohen should be considering. It has huge implications to our ability to protect salmon."

Orr said he's concerned the changes could mean that penalties would only be triggered if fish are killed or there is permanent harm to habitat.

Read the full story in the Surrey North Delta Leader.

Read related stories on the Cohen Inquiry.


Posted May 4th, 2012

Theology of Salmon: Wild or Farmed? [Chile]

Ross Anderson
May 1, 2012
Food Safety News

In the Pacific Northwest, where I've lived and worked for 40 years, salmon is more than a commodity. It's a regional icon and an article of faith, part of a regional doctrine that dictates: thou shalt eat wild salmon only, for farmed salmon is a blasphemy.

As a journalist with agnostic tendencies, I've never really subscribed to this belief. But I've always been a tad suspicious of farmed salmon. I suppose it has to do with vague recollections of something I read about the use of antibiotics, or to the label we frequently see on salmon packages: "color added."

So when I jetted off to Chile a few weeks ago, it was with a twinge of skepticism.


Over the following five days, I saw a lot of fish. I walked the galvanized steel catwalks around floating netpens the size of three football fields and 100 feet deep - pens that contained millions of Atlantic salmon, shadowy missiles milling beneath the surface until the automatic feeders spring to action and the surface suddenly boils with bright, silvery, hungry salmon that reminded me of an Alaska spawning run.

I toured factories that resemble surgical wards, with scores of workers draped in white gowns, masks and rubber boots, stepping through disinfectant baths between rooms. I watched men and women trimming gorgeous, red fillets into meal-size portions for freezing, then for shipment to markets around the world. I listened to workers explain what they do, and what they've learned from the last few years, when an invading virus killed millions of fish, and almost killed the industry.

At each stop, I asked questions about our perceptions of farmed salmon, about antibiotics and Omega 3 fatty acids and food coloring.


Industry leaders, of course, assure us that all is well. So in recent days, I've consulted with several independent experts, including Dr. Mike Rust, aquaculture researcher at the Northwest Fisheries Science Center in Seattle; Dr. John Forster, a marine biologist and aquaculture expert based in Port Angeles, WA; and Gary Marty, a fisheries expert with the Canadian Agriculture Ministry and a professor at the University of California. Here's what I've learned.

Read the full story on Food Safety News.

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Posted May 1st, 2012

Fraser River sockeye may suffer damaged hearts

Mark Hume
April 24, 2012
Globe and Mail

Could salmon in the Fraser River be dying from damaged hearts?

That is a question the Cohen Commission is essentially being asked to consider in an application that seeks to have the hearings reopened so new information on an emerging fish disease can be examined.

The federal inquiry into the decline of sockeye salmon in the Fraser River ended evidentiary hearings four months ago and staff are now busy working on the final report, which is due by Sept. 30.
More related to this story

But in a letter to the Cohen Commission this week, lawyer Gregory McDade, who represents the Aquaculture Coalition, asked that the hearings be resumed to hear “new information regarding the presence of piscine reovirus (PRV) and heart and skeletal muscle inflammation (HSMI) in aquaculture salmon in British Columbia.”

Alexandra Morton, an independent salmon researcher and anti-fish-farm activist, raised the disease issue recently, when she released laboratory tests that she said showed the presence of PRV in samples of B.C.-grown Atlantic salmon, collected in Vancouver supermarkets.

Ms. Morton, a member of the Aquaculture Coalition, claims the presence of PRV in B.C. farmed fish means HSMI may also be present and that it could have been transmitted to wild salmon.

“Developing research into the novel disease links HSMI to PRV and indicates that both cause high mortality,” stated Mr. McDade. “In the course of its hearings, the presence and significance of HSMI and PRV in British Columbia were not explored.”

In his application, Mr. McDade wrote that one witness, Dr. Kristi Miller, a Fisheries and Oceans scientist, had testified at the hearings that she had identified PRV in tests done on farmed Pacific salmon on the West Coast.

But no other witnesses testified on the issue and the implications of the disease were not examined by the Cohen Commission, stated Mr. McDade. 

Read the full story in the Globe and Mail.

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Posted April 26th, 2012

8 species of wild fish have been detected in aquaculture feed

April 25, 2012

Researchers from the University of Oviedo have for the first time analysed a DNA fragment from commercial feed for aquarium cichlids, aquaculture salmon and marine fish in aquariums. The results show that in order to manufacture this feed, eight species of high trophic level fish have been used, some of them coming directly from extractive fisheries.

Aquaculture initially came as an ecological initiative to reduce pressure from fishing and to cover human food needs. However, a problem has emerged: consumers prefer carnivore species, like salmon and cod that require tons of high quality protein for their quick, optimum development.

"If these proteins are obtained from extractive fisheries, aquaculture stops being an alternative to over-fishing and starts contributing to it, turning it into a risk for natural marine ecosystems" Alba Ardura, lead author of the study published in 'Fisheries Research' and researcher in the department of Functional Biology at the University of Oviedo told SINC.

The research team analysed a DNA fragment from commercial feed made for aquarium cichlids, aquaculture of salmon and marine fish in aquariums. After removing oil and fat from the feed, DNA sequences were obtained and compared with public databases to identify the species found.

From fish feed samples, supplied by manufacturers and bought in animal shops, researchers identified eight species of wild marine fish that were from high trophic levels in the food chain.

Industrial waste from processing and commercialisation for human consumption of Peruvian anchoveta (Engraulis ringens), European sprat (Sprattus sprattus), Pacific cod (Gadus macrocephalus), whiting (Merlangius merlangus), Atlantic herring (Clupea harengus), Pacific sandlance (Ammodytes personatus), jack mackerel (Trachurus symmetricus), and blue mackerel (Scomber australasicus), allow fish meal for aquaculture fish to be made.

Nonetheless, according to the researcher "some of the species found in this feed are commercialised fresh without being processed and they suspect that they came to the feed directly from extractive fisheries." This is the case with herring and Pacific sandlance.

The research suggests that aquaculture is partly maintained by fisheries, and aquaculture fishes are fed by wild fish sold "whole" (without being processed) and fresh directly from fishing vessels.

Read the full story on Phys.org.

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Posted April 26th, 2012

Scottish Salmon Company Extends its Programme of Environmental Excellence [Scotland]

Fish Update
April 24, 2012

The Scottish Salmon Company (SSC) is extending its programme of integrated multi-tropic aquaculture (IMTA) to a second site, as the company continues to develop its programme of environmental excellence.

Following first trials at its award winning Loch Roag site, the company is now introducing seaweed crops in conjunction with its salmon farming operation at Ardcastle, Loch Fyne, to achieve a greater natural balance in the management of the water area. Work now begins on implementing other crops such as mussels.

IMTA exchanges nutrients in the water system giving potential benefits for the produce farmed in the marine environment. The project has been developed with the Scottish Association of Marine Science as part of the company’s ongoing commitment to protect the local environment.

This year, SSC also announced details of a pioneering initiative which will see Ballan wrasse, or ‘cleaner fish’, commercially farmed for use in salmon cages for the first time. While widely shown to reduce sea lice on salmon, this is one of the first full scale operations aiming to farm and deploy wrasse in Scotland.

Read the full story on Fish Update.

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Posted April 25th, 2012

One woman's struggle to save B.C.'s wild salmon

Mark Hume
April 21, 2012
Globe and Mail

Alexandra Morton sits at her kitchen table and tries to ignore the e-mails pouring in to the laptop open in front of her. She is looking out the picture window at Rough Bay, which is tranquil this morning, reflecting a vivid blue sky and the snow-capped mountains of northern Vancouver Island.

“That's where I want to be,” she says wistfully, as if the sea, which washes ashore 10 metres from her tiny cabin on Malcolm Island, is somehow unreachable because of the life she has chosen.

Her idea of a perfect day is to rise at dawn and head out in her boat, Blackfish Sound, wandering until she finds a tide line where a rich seam in the ocean currents is marked by a ribbon of flotsam. Then she turns off the engine and drifts with a hydrophone hung over the side of the boat.

“You can hear herring. They sound like lemons being squished. You can hear the whisk, whisk, whisk of otter feet,” she says. “You can hear whales, and you can even hear the rocks rolling on the pebble beaches.”

But the days when she can escape to that idyllic world are few, says Ms. Morton, who is tied to her computer, afraid that if she rests, she may fail at her self-appointed task of removing open-net salmon pens from coastal waters.

In waging her fierce campaign against both a powerful industry and its government allies, the 55-year-old biologist has emerged as a leading champion of the anti-fish farm movement. But she has also become a polarizing figure in the ongoing debate over the future of aquaculture.

Ms. Morton's campaign to rid the coast of fish farms began in the late 1980s, when salmon operations began to expand from the Sunshine Coast, near Vancouver, moving north into pristine waters. Recently widowed, she was living in a float house at Echo Bay with her young son, Jarret, when the first farms showed up in the Broughton Archipelago. The small community of about 100 turned to her for help.

“I was the only one with a word processor,” she says. And she used it, writing thousands of pages of letters to government officials over the following years.

Read the full story in the Globe and Mail.

Posted April 23rd, 2012

Report Calls for Fish Farms to be Sited Offshore [Ireland]

The Fish Site
April 23, 2012

Save Bantry Bay (SBB) has republished a controversial report commissioned by the Minister of the Marine which states that until the precise nature of the relationship between sea lice and sea trout is understood ‘a precautionary approach dictates that it would be prudent to avoid siting new fish farms or increased salmon farm production… within 20km of a sea trout river mouth’. A recommendation that is far from followed today, says the group.

Back in 2003 the World Wildlife Fund and Atlantic Salmon Federation mentioned this report and recommendation, but stated the report was never published because of ‘aquaculture industry pressure’. To determine whether this was the case, a Parliamentary question was recently tabled. In his response Simon Coveney, Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine said that ‘The precise nature of the report referred to by the Deputy is not clear’.

In order to find this elusive report that even Government Ministers appear unable to access, SBB went to a UK copyright library. The Report, which was in fact published in 1994 as an Appendix to a Department of Marine Task Force Report with an additional endorsement from the scientists involved, is now available on the Save Bantry Bay website.

Such advice from scientists on the siting of salmon farms is not unique to Ireland. The Scottish Aquaculture Research Forum has recently also recommended a similar distance of 18km between wild salmon river mouth and salmon farms as a “rule of thumb”.

Yet this science is consistently being ignored. Save Bantry Bay is currently objecting to a proposal from Marine Harvest Ireland for a salmon farm at Shot Head, Bantry Bay. "There are six salmon rivers within 11 km of the site of the proposed fish farm – one just half a kilometre away. This is the wrong location as it puts too much at risk. We are calling on Minister Simon Coveney to reject the application for a licence which is on his desk," said Kieran O’Shea SBB Chairman and third generation local fisherman.

Read the full story in the Fish Site.

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Posted April 23rd, 2012

Final days of challenge bring clothing swap closer

Campbell River Mirror
April 23, 2012

With three weeks down and just one left to go, staff at the BC Salmon Farmers Association are preparing for the final wrap-up for their Five Easy Pieces fundraiser for the Heart and Stroke Foundation.

On May 3, a fundraising clothing swap will be held at the BCSFA offices – and people are welcome to stop by and do a little ‘new-to-you’ shopping by donation from 4-7 p.m.

“We are all looking forward to this celebration, which really puts a cherry on the top of our month-long fundraiser,” said Mary Ellen Walling, Executive Director of the BCSFA. “Everyone has been such a good sport and provided great enthusiasm.”

Each staff member at the association has worn just five pieces of clothing to work for the month of April, raising pledges and challenging others in support of the Heart and Stroke Foundation. They just broke the $5,000 mark in fundraising, and hope to beat last year’s total of $5,442.

This challenge is definitely easier for me as the one man in the office – but even I am ready to be able to mix up the clothing next week,” said David Minato, Community and Member Relations Co-ordinator. “Being put out slightly for a month though is worth it to know we’re supporting a good cause.”

Read the full story in the Campbell River Mirror.

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Posted April 23rd, 2012

Fish rising: Scotland’s salmon sales overseas set new records [Scotland]

Scott Reid
April 23, 2012
The Scotsman

Sales of salmon to overseas customers have set new records, industry figures today reveal, providing a further boost to Scotland’s flourishing food and drink sector.

The statistics, which are derived from official HM Revenues & Customs data, show that North America has taken over as the main export market for the first time, following a 35 per cent surge during the past year.

Meanwhile, there was a near-900 per cent leap in exports to the Far East, albeit from a small base.

The figures come as the industry targets further growth at the world’s largest seafood show, which is being staged this week in Brussels and is expected to attract visitors from about 80 countries.

Today’s report from the Scottish Salmon Producers’ Organisation (SSPO) shows that exports of fresh salmon rose 22 per cent in 2011 to 95,638 tonnes. Seven of the top ten markets grew in volume and the product is now said to reach 64 countries.

There were just over 44,450 tonnes of salmon exported to North America. Exports to continental Europe, where many countries are either in recession or struggling for growth, were flat at a little under 40,000 tonnes.

As well as the 894 per cent surge in exports to the Far East, from just 682 tonnes to 6,779 tonnes, there was a 17 per cent hike in trade with the Middle East, which accounted for 1,562 tonnes in 2011.


Read the full story in the Scotsman.

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Posted April 23rd, 2012

Unlocking the secrets of rivers

Larry Pynn
April 19, 2012
Vancouver Sun

It can be easy to take the Fraser River for granted. From the muddy banks next to the former Albion ferry terminal, the sediment-laced waters seem to flow reliably, unchanging day after day to the Fraser delta at the Pacific Ocean.

Long after the season’s last salmon has migrated upstream to spawn and die, the river gives little reason to consider its importance on a global basis.

Until, that is, you chat with scientist Bernhard Peucker-Ehrenbrink, who is reaching out from a wooden dock to obtain a water sample with a plastic jug. Then you begin to look at the Fraser differently.

Peucker-Ehrenbrink is an authority in marine chemistry with the Global Rivers Project, an initiative of Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution near Boston. Along with local partners such as the University of the Fraser Valley, it is tracking the health of rivers, their response to climate change and their impact on coastal ocean ecosystems.

“How does a river change over time, and can we explain those changes?” the scientist asks.

The rivers project is looking at everything from temperatures to trace metals to the carbon cycle, gathering important baseline information against which future studies can be compared.

Other rivers in the project include the Yukon and Mackenzie, flowing through northern Canada; India’s Brahmaputra; China’s Yangtze; the Congo in Africa; the Ob, Yenisey, Lena, and Kolyma, in Russian Siberia; the Ganges, which flows through India and Bangladesh; and South America’s iconic Amazon.

The U.S. National Science Foundation provided $2.4 million in funding for the project, now entering its third and final year, with other partners contributing the remainder of the $3-million budget.

Rivers account for a tiny fraction — one drop in a million — of the world’s estimated 1.3 billion cubic kilometres of ocean water. If the oceans theoretically dried up, “it would take about 30,000 years for the rivers to refill them,” Peucker-Ehrenbrink says.

Read the full story in the Vancouver Sun.

Posted April 19th, 2012

Copper-zinc cages, a success for healthy salmon harvest [Chile]

April 13, 2012

The company Ecosea Farming SA ensures they carried out a study to show that copper-zinc cages used for salmon farming eliminate 99.9 per cent of the major pathogens (viruses and bacteria) by only half an hour of exposure.

This was announced after performing the first harvest of salmon after the health crisis that took place in 2007 as a result of the spread of infectious salmon anemia (ISA) virus in several farms in the country.

Located near Hornopirén in the Lake District, the cages developed by this firm, a subsidiary of the National Copper Corporation (Codelco), are made of copper (65 per cent of the total) and of zinc (35 per cent) mesh, Radio Bío Bío reported.

According to the preliminary data, the salmon mortality rate dropped on average over 35 per cent over conventional mesh used in the same centre.

The Mining Minister, Hernán de Solminihac, considers the use of copper cages in Chile "is a technological innovation that increases productivity, provides a solution to health issues and optimizes operating costs on farms."

From Ecosea it is argued that these copper-zinc cages contribute to the improvement of productivity, to the solution of health issues and to the optimization of operating costs on farms.

In addition, the cages are 100 per cent recyclable and impervious to predators, like sea lions.

By using them, it is expected that operating costs are reduced by more than 20 per cent, Codelco pointed out.

Currently, Chile has 68 non-submersible cages with copper alloy mesh in operation.

Four million fish, or about 20,000 tonnes of Atlantic salmon and trout, among other fishery resources, are farmed in these cages.

Read the full story in FIS.

Posted April 13th, 2012

Scientists create the ‘armour-plated’ salmon [Scotland]

The Scotsman
April 8, 2012

Scientists have created “armour-plated” salmon in what is being hailed as a massive boost to Scotland’s multi-million pound angling and fish farming industries.

For the first time, thousands of young salmon – smolts – harvested from the wild but then reared in fish pens are being doused with a chemical treatment that prevents them being attacked by harmful sea lice at the start of their journey to the open ocean.

A three-year experiment has found that as a result of the treatment, more mature fish are returning to their home Scottish rivers in a significant boost to the local economy. Rod catches on the River Lochy, near Fort William, have risen by 10 per cent - an extra 400 fish - an indicator that greater numbers of salmon are returning. On the Carron, in Wester Ross, another river hit by declining numbers, stocks are said to have staged a “phenomenal recovery”.

Up to 100,000 treated smolts are now to be released over the next three years to build on the success of the trial. A successful outcome will help to remove one of the major barriers to expansion of the fish farming industry on the west coast. Growth of the industry which brings jobs and money into remote rural locations has been severely hampered by evidence that sea lice infestation of farmed salmon in west coast lochs and rivers has damaged wild stocks.

Read the full story in The Scotsman.

Posted April 10th, 2012

Pacific fishermen prepare for big salmon season [US]

Hilary Beaumont
April 7, 2012
San Francisco Chronicle

Federal regulators will allow plenty of opportunity for fishermen to troll for Pacific Coast salmon as biologists forecast a dramatic rebound in populations of the prized fish.

The Pacific Fishery Management Council on Thursday approved salmon seasons that provide ample fishing time for commercial and recreational anglers in California, Oregon and Washington over the next six months.

The council, which regulates Pacific Coast fisheries, chose the final set of regulations from three options approved last month.

The panel's decision comes as biologists project big increases in salmon populations from the Sacramento, Klamath and Rogue rivers. Their forecast for chinook salmon returning to the Klamath this fall is about four times greater than average and the highest on record since 1985.

That marks a sharp turnaround from just a few years ago when steep declines in salmon stocks led to the largest fishery closures on record in 2008 and 2009.

"It's about as big of a rebound as we could have hoped for, when you're talking about record or near-record forecasts coming from unprecedented closures," Chuck Tracy, the council's salmon staff officer, told the Bay Area News Group (http://bit.ly/I2l1zp). "It's all the way from the bottom to the top in three years."

Biologists attribute the comeback to wet winters and favorable ocean conditions over the past few years that have allowed salmon to thrive and spawn in large numbers.

Read the full story in the San Francisco Chronicle.

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Posted April 10th, 2012

Contained-fish project deemed a success

Dan MacLennan
April 7, 2012
Times Colonist

AgriMarine Industries officials say they're pleased with the first harvest of chinook salmon from their solid wall containment pilot project at Middle Bay, even though the fish had to be harvested early because of storm damage to the huge 3,000-cubic-metre tank.

"We didn't achieve the biomass that we'd like to have," AgriMarine president and CEO Richard Buchanan told the Courier-Islander. "Because of the storm we've stopped this growout. (We had) amazing growth in the 13 months. We didn't believe that salmon could grow so quickly. It's really proven that the quality of the rearing system for fish is excellent."

The Middle Bay Sustainable Aquaculture Initiative (MBSAI) saw AgriMarine fill a floating solid-wall tank with roughly 50,000 six-inch chinook in late January 2011. The plan was to harvest the fish 18 to 20 months later when the fish reached an average four kilograms in size. The plan changed quickly last month when the powerful storm that dropped trees all over Campbell River March 12 also caused cracks in the tank. In order to properly assess the damage, the tank had to be raised and inspected, meaning the fish had to come out.

Buchanan said more than 95 per cent of the original stock were harvested and sold to Safeway in the United States.

"There is some damage and we don't want to take a chance on any structural failure so we're going to remove the tank and check the damage," he said. "We've changed the design. Future designs are different than this. We learned what we needed to learn."

AgriMarine's Rob Walker was pleased with the end result. He said the fish averaged two kilograms.

Click here for the full story in the Times Colonist . Also in Courier Islander; April 6, 2012; "AgriMarine happy with fish size, health in forced harvest"

See related stories:

  • Campbell River Courier; April 6, 2012; "AgriMarine happy with fish size, health in forced harvest"
  • CTV News Coverage; July 6, 2011; "Unique fish farm aims to dash environmental concerns"
  • Times Colonist; January 19, 2011; "Arrival of aquaculture tank makes history, draws praise"
  • Courier Islander.; June 3, 2011; "Agrimarine has tentative Safeway deal"
  • Courier-Islander.; May 13, 2011; "C.R.-based closed-containment project impresses CAAR members"
  • Business in Vancouver; March 15, 2011; "Agrimarine signs MOU for eastern Canada fish farm venture"
  • Courier Islander; February 2, 2011; "First closed-containment fish have been put in project tank"
  • Courier Islander; February 2, 2011; "History in the making?'
  • Courier Islander; January 21, 2011; "'Contained' economics get better and better"
  • Courier Islander; January 21, 2011; "Middle Bay project means an end to open net cage farms - Donnelly"
  • Times Colonist; January 19, 2011; "Arrival of aquaculture tank makes history, draws praise"
  • Courier Islander; January 19, 2011; "Closed containment one step closer"
  • Vancouver Sun; January 19, 2011; "Campbell Rivers' floating fish tank draws praise"
  • Fisheries Information Service; January 18, 2011; First closed containment aquaculture tank launches in BC"
  • CBC News; January 17, 2011; "Closed-pen salmon farm launches in B.C."
  • Straight.com; January 17, 2011; "Alexandra Morton applauds B.C.'s first closed fish-farming tank"
  • National Post; January 17, 2011; "Fishermen outraged over Chinese fish farm using B.C. salmon eggs" 
  • Earth Times; January 17, 2011; "AgriMarine and MBSAI Complete Launch of First Marine Closed Containment Tank in BC"
  • Courier Islander; January 13, 2011; "First on in the world"
  • Courier Islander; January 13, 2011; "Big is bigger"


Posted April 10th, 2012

Big Warning on Little Fish

New York Times
April 8, 2012

There is more to smart fishery management than protecting the big, delicious species, like striped bass, cod, tuna and salmon. A huge and growing portion of the world’s commercial catch — 37 percent by weight — is made up of small fish, like herring, sardines, anchovies and menhaden, which are food for larger predators.

These “forage fish” are ground up and used in all sorts of products, including feed for pig lots and fish farms, nutritional supplements and salad dressing. They are valuable and easy to catch, and industrial fleets the world over are relentlessly “harvesting” them with little awareness of the damage this is doing to the oceans’ ecosystems.

A new study by an international group of marine and fisheries scientists warns that the taking of forage fish should be cut back, drastically in some areas, to prevent broader ecological destruction. The report, by the Lenfest Foundation, urges a rethinking of the common belief that little fish are “more like weeds than trees,” whose populations can be maintained no matter how aggressively they are fished. After studying a variety of regions, including the Antarctic, the North and Baltic Seas, Chesapeake Bay and the Gulf of Maine, the researchers concluded that forage fish are not only more vulnerable than previously thought, but also worth more in the water than in the net because of the many species of larger fish, seabirds and marine mammals that depend on them. 

Read the full story in the New York Times.

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Posted April 8th, 2012

Cheaper farmed salmon may change '12 market

Laine Welch
April 7, 2012
Anchorage Daily News

A resurgence of farmed fish and shifting world currencies could shake up salmon markets this year.

"There are two trends going into the current salmon season that we haven't seen for several years," said Gunnar Knapp, a fisheries economist at the University of Alaska Anchorage. "Exchange rates look to be weaker ... (and) farmed salmon prices, rather than rising or holding steady, have fallen significantly. So we will be selling into a market where there is a lot more competing product available at a lot cheaper price."

There has been a huge rebound in world farmed salmon production over the past year -- notably by Chilean producers who have recovered from a killer salmon virus that devastated their industry four years ago. Chile pegs farmed salmon and trout production this year at 700,000 tons, or 1.5 billion pounds (round weight), just slightly below Alaska's total salmon poundage last year.

"I absolutely think what is happening in farmed salmon production and markets is the critical thing for the Alaska salmon industry to be paying attention to going into this salmon season," Knapp said.

Norway, the world's other major farmed salmon producer, also is ramping up sales of whole salmon to the U.S., now that a 24 percent import tax imposed 20 years ago has expired, said Seafood Trend's Ken Talley.

Read the full story in the Anchorage Daily News.

Posted April 7th, 2012

Marine Harvest Accused of Bribery for Farm Site [Scotland]

The Fish Site
April 4, 2012

Marine Harvest has been accused of offering "bribes" to the islanders of Colonsay to get them to agree to a controversial plan to turn their waters into a giant fish farm, reports Herald Scotland.

The Norwegian firm has promised the 120 residents of Colonsay, to the north of Islay, £50,000 up front and £10,000 a year thereafter if they vote for 12 salmon cages to be moored 1500 metres off their east coast, reports HeraldScotland. It would be the island's first commercial fish farm.

Islanders are split on the issue, with some worried about environmental risks and others anxious for new jobs. They will vote on the plan later this year, and the company has pledged to abide by the outcome.

People on different sides of the argument, canvassed by the Sunday Herald last week, all agreed the result of the vote was too close to call.

One of the most ardent opponents is 60-year-old Mike McNicholl, who retired yesterday as owner of the local shop. The cash on offer was undoubtedly "a bribe", he said, aimed at winning support for a development that would later expand.

Read the full story on the Fish Site.

Posted April 4th, 2012

Commissioner's report delayed

Andrew Bailey
April 3, 2012
Westerly News

An overwhelming amount of evidence has lead to a three-month delay for the Cohen Commission of Inquiry into the decline of sockeye salmon in the Fraser River.

Commissioner Bruce Cohen has been granted an extension on his report's June 30 deadline and is now expected to submit it by September 30.

"More time was required because of the complexity of the topic," says communications director Carla Shore.
An overwhelming amount of evidence has lead to a three-month delay for the Cohen Commission of Inquiry into the decline of sockeye salmon in the Fraser River.View Larger Image View Larger Image
An overwhelming amount of evidence has lead to a three-month delay for the Cohen Commission of Inquiry into the decline of sockeye salmon in the Fraser River.

The June deadline was set about a year ago and the amount of evidence was more than initially expected so the commissioner wanted to make sure that he would have enough time to properly fulfill his mandate, according to Shore.

There have been about 900 public submissions and over 160 witnesses have testified which has lead to 14,000 pages of transcripts with 2,100 exhibits for Cohen to sift through and consider for his final report.

He deemed the extension necessary in order to write, translate, and produce his findings.

No further extensions are expected. "We expect to be able to fulfill the commissioner's mandate by the date set out," Shore says.

Cohen was charged with producing recommendations towards the improvement of future sustainability of the sockeye salmon fishery in the Fraser River when the commission was established November 5, 2009.

His final report may include recommended changes to the Department of Fisheries and Oceans' policies, practices and procedures, with regards to sockeye salmon management on the Fraser River.

Read the full story in the Westerly News.

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Posted April 4th, 2012

Whole Foods to stop selling unsustainable fish; 'Red-rated' seafood, over-fished or harmful to other species, gets nixed

NY Daily News
April 3, 2012

Whole Foods Market said Friday that it will stop selling fish caught from depleted waters or through ecologically damaging methods, a move that comes as supermarkets nationwide try to make their seafood selections more sustainable.

Starting Earth Day, April 22, the natural and organic supermarket chain will no longer carry wild-caught seafood that is "red-rated," a color code that indicates it is either overfished or caught in a way that harms other species. The ratings are determined by the Blue Ocean Institute, an advocacy group, and the Monterey Bay Aquarium in California.

Among the seafood disappearing from Whole Foods shelves will be octopus, gray sole, skate, Atlantic halibut and Atlantic cod caught by trawls, which can destroy habitats. The company will stock sustainable replacements like cod caught on lines and halibut from the Pacific.

"In the long term, what we're really looking to do is help reverse trends of overfishing and bi-catch, so that really we can move the industry as a whole toward greater sustainability," said seafood quality standards coordinator Carrie Brownstein. She added that Whole Foods is making the shift a year ahead of its internal deadline.

Retail prices could be higher in some cases in which sustainable suppliers have lower yields.

Whole Foods, which has been strengthening its buying practices for years, is among a number of supermarket chains responding as consumers become more concerned about the sources of their seafood.

Read the full story in the NY Daily News.

Posted April 3rd, 2012

Human harm to oceans comes with staggering price tag: study

Randy Boswell
Times Colonist
April 1, 2012

A Canadian researcher is at the centre of a provocative new international study that puts an eye-popping price tag on the damage being done to the world's oceans and fisheries - a cost that could reach $2 trillion a year by 2100 - from carbon emissions, over-fertilization, over-fishing and other human impacts.

University of British Columbia fisheries economist Rashid Sumaila, a leading critic of international fishing policies, is co-editor of the 300-page Valuing The Ocean report released last week at the high-profile Planet Under Pressure environmental conference in Britain.

The study, touted as a "unique," monetary assessment of global ocean health and threats, is the latest attempt by ecosystem-conscious scientists to affix financial value to planetary resources taken for granted in traditional models of economic activity.

The idea, the researchers say, is to have citizens and policymakers experience a kind of sticker shock when "the actual monetary value of the critical ocean services that we stand to lose" is revealed through a scientific-economic calculation.

"By stressing the links between multiple marine stressors and the huge value of the vital services that the ocean provides to humankind," Sumaila told Postmedia News, contributors to the report "hope to help kick-start decisive, integrated action to strengthen ocean governance and management across all scales, from local to global."

The report, co-edited by Sumaila with Robert Diaz of the Virginia Institute of Marine Science, encompasses studies from an international team of economists, ocean scientists and others who attempt to "tally the costs and savings associated with human decisions affecting ocean health," according to a summary of the publication.

Read the full story in the Times Colonist.

Read the preview summaries from the study "Valuing the Oceans". 

Posted April 2nd, 2012