Wild-salmon advocate in B.C. side steps inquiry into poor sockeye returns

Kevin Drews
September 24, 2012
Global News

One of British Columbia's most vocal advocates for the preservation of wild salmon says she's not waiting to find out from a government inquiry why the Fraser River sockeye run crashed in 2009.

Just hours after the Cohen Commission announced Tuesday it had received yet another extension to submit its written findings, Alexandra Morton said she has already set up her own volunteer group to test and monitor wild salmon along the coast.

Morton has dubbed it the Department of Wild Salmon, a private sector organization.

"I'm not going to waste my time and energy praying and hoping and begging Mr. DFO (Department of Fisheries and Oceans) to do something right," she said.

"It's never going to happen. DFO is downsizing and my thought is: 'Right on. Bye, bye. Step out of the way. Step away from the fish. We can deal with this.'"

Morton said she made her decision while reading through commission documents and over issues like the importation of salmon eggs, and also because she said she's not allowed to present fish samples to DFO for testing.

She said her organization includes First Nations, fisheries managers, stream keepers and commercial fishermen, said Morton. They will be taught how to take biological samples from salmon so they can be tested for diseases.

Eventually, she hopes to have her own lab, which Morton estimated would cost as much as $20 million over 10 years.

Read the full article on Global News.

Posted September 24th, 2012

New Farming Technologies Produce Healthier Salmon

September 24, 2012

Today, viable technologies produce healthy farmed fish completely separate from the surrounding environment and wild fish. According to the Atlantic Salmon Federation (ASF), farmers are recognizing that there is a lucrative market in supplying chefs and consumers who increasingly demand fish grown in an environmentally-sustainable manner.

A partnership between The Conservation Fund Freshwater Institute (TCFFI) of West Virginia and the Atlantic Salmon Federation (ASF), a conservation organization with headquarters in St. Andrews NB, Canada, is producing healthy, unstressed farmed salmon, free of disease and sea lice, without vaccines, harsh chemicals, and antibiotics in closed-containment freshwater facilities on land. The goal is to give fish farmers and regulators the opportunity to choose a different way to grow fish that is not only better for the environment, but also better for business, too.

ASF has served its land-based, closed-containment salmon to appreciative guests, who attended events in New York, Washington, DC, Toronto, ON, and throughout Atlantic Canada. Chefs and the general public gave a very high rating to the taste, texture, and quality of the product. Chefs and seafood distributors desire it to satisfy the growing demand of their customers for sustainably-grown fish.

Because of the success of this one-year project, ASF and TCFFI will extend their partnered research for another three years and will explore the economics of growing larger quantities during this time.

According to the Atlantic Salmon Federation, the open net pen salmon farming industry greatly underplays the environmental impacts of farming salmon in open net pens in the ocean.

The ASF says that one example of this is this industry's portrayal of outbreaks of Infectious Salmon Anemia (ISA) as a disease occurring naturally and to be expected as part of the business of farming salmon and that in fact, this deadly flu-like disease is spread quickly among farmed salmon that are stressed in densely-packed open ocean net cages, wherever these farms exist - Norway, Scotland, the Faroes, Chile, the United States and Canada.

Read the full article in FIS.

Posted September 24th, 2012

Location of fish farms that shoot seals kept secret [Scotland]

Rob Edwards
September 23, 2012
Herald Scotland

The locations of the Scottish salmon farms where seals are being shot to protect fish are being kept secret by the Holyrood government.

The SNP administration says it fears direct action by animal-rights protesters trying to save seals could put the lives of the marksmen at risk.

This claim has been dismissed as "blatant scaremongering" and a "ludicrous excuse" for official secrecy by animal welfare campaigners. They say they would act within the law, and would not do anything that would endanger fish-farm workers.

Scottish ministers have licensed eight fish-farm companies to shoot more than 300 seals since the start of 2011. Killing is meant to be a last resort to prevent them from eating salmon from underwater cages.

But the killing has faced fierce opposition from campaigners, who argue it is cruel and unnecessary. Instead, seals can be stopped from taking fish by high-tension nets, they say.

In response to freedom of information requests, the Scottish Government has released figures showing which fish-farming companies have shot the most seals. But it has refused to name the individual farms where the shooting has taken place.

Campaigners have appealed to the Scottish Information Commissioner, Rosemary Agnew, who has begun to investigate. In a submission to Agnew last month, the Scottish Government said there was a "strong likelihood" campaigners would take direct action "against individuals employed at sites where seals have been shot".

Read the full article in the Herald Scotland.

Posted September 23rd, 2012

Lucid PR: Experts Closing the Net on Targeted Fish Genes

The Herald
September 21, 2012

Scottish scientists are homing in on the elusive genes that could create the perfect salmon and revolutionise aquaculture.

Experts at Landcatch Natural Selection, based in Argyll, and their research partners, are aiming to be the first in the world to locate the genes that determine how susceptible individual Atlantic salmon are to certain diseases.

It is another pioneering advance from Landcatch who in 2007 were the first aquaculture company to be involved in work to pinpoint a gene influencing Infectious Pancreatic Necrosis (IPN) which poses a major threat to Atlantic salmon.

They later also proved that sea lice resistance is inherited, subsequently producing juvenile fish which were less susceptible. This allowed breeding from selected pedigree families and increased genetic resistance in each new generation.

Delegates at the Pharmaq conference in Inverness next week (25 September) will hear that the new work by Landcatch and its partners means they are getting ever nearer to the all-important genes and are on target to have this science for sale and already applied to their salmon eggs by 2014.

In what will be a major breakthrough for the industry, eggs and smolts will then be produced to selectively breed healthier, disease resistant salmon and other fish as the technology can cross over to other species.

It will mean improved quality products and an acceleration of genetic techniques in farmed fish which the industry and commentators, including the former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, believe is necessary to address world food shortages caused by climate change.

The work accelerates the pace of progress and will help breeders and researchers examine traits in individual fish and better understand their general survivability, omega-3 level and grilsing – or maturing – rates.

Read the full article in The Herald.

Read more here: http://www.heraldonline.com/2012/09/21/4280750/lucid-pr-experts-closing-the-net.html#storylink=cpy#storylink=cpy

Posted September 21st, 2012

Citizens slam secrecy over sea lice records [East Coast]

September 13, 2012

A New Brunswick environmentalist says a ruling by the province's access-to-information commissioner effectively privatizes part of the ocean.

Larry Lack and Lee Ann Ward, residents of the southwestern New Brunswick town of St. Andrews, were denied access to information on sea lice counts at individual salmon farms in the Bay of Fundy.

After a series of discussions with New Brunswick's access to Information commissioner, Anne Bertrand issued a ruling that those details sought by Lack and Ward are proprietary.

"They want to sanitize this by making it private information, Lack said.

Lack was looking for what he calls "hot spots” of sea lice at fish farms. But he now believes there's a larger issue at stake after the commissioner’s ruling.

"They can fence off a piece of the public's ocean and call it theirs and treat it like private property. It's like privatizing something that belongs to all of us,” Lack said.

Citizens can use the Right to Information and Protection of Privacy Act to make requests to the provincial government and a series of other bodies for documents on a specific subject.

If the department or public body denies the applicant that information, they can appeal to either the Court of Queen’s Bench or the information commissioner’s office.

The information sought by Lack and Ward is collected and held by the Department of Agriculture, Aquaculture and Fisheries.

Read the full story on CBC.

Posted September 13th, 2012

Fish missing from treaty talks

Terrace Standard
September 12, 2012

Fishing rights aren’t included in the Kitselas and Kitsumkalum draft agreements in principle.

Kitsumkalum and Kitselas chief treaty negotiator Gerald Wesley said the decision to leave fishing out for now from negotiations leading to final agreements rests with a federal government decision made after it struck a Royal Commission to examine the Fraser River fishery.

The Cohen Commission was created to look into the reasons for the collapse of the 2009 Fraser River fishery and until its report is released and recommendations considered, the federal government said it won’t negotiate fishery agreements as part of land claims treaties.

Wesley said Kitsumkalum and Kitselas negotiators had the option of leaving talks altogether or continuing on with the understanding that a final agreement for each First Nation would only be negotiated when each one included fish.

In the end, the negotiators chose to keep working on the agreement in principle and address fishing later on.

“The lack of a completed fishing chapter would be a major concern,” said Wesley of what would happen if negotiations for a final agreement wound down without addressing aboriginal rights to fish and other marine resources.

Read the full story in the Terrace Standard.

Posted September 12th, 2012

Scottish fish farmers use record amounts of parasite pesticides [Scotland]

Severin Carrell
September 10, 2012
The Guardian

Scottish fish farmers have been forced to use record amounts of highly toxic pesticides to combat underwater parasites that prey on salmon, raising fears of significant damage to the marine environment.

Data released by the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (Sepa) shows a 110% increase in the amount of chemicals used to treat the sea lice parasite in the past four years, in large part because sea lice are becoming resistant to treatment.

During that same period, however, salmon production has only increased by 22% to 158,000 tonnes.

The agency said it was not carrying out any studies into the impact of the chemicals on the marine environment, but insisted there was no evidence of any cumulative damage from increasing use of these pesticides.

Richard Dixon, director of the environment group WWF Scotland and a Sepa board member, said the figures were worrying. The Scottish government and salmon industry plans to increase output by 50% by 2020, implying there will be even greater use of toxic sea lice treatments.

Urging the industry to cut chemical use, Dixon said: "News that the use of some pesticides has jumped in recent years is a worry and urgently needs addressing. It is doubly concerning as the industry is still in the process of expanding. Expansion of the industry should be predicated on the reduction in chemicals released."

Read the full article in The Guardian.

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Posted September 10th, 2012

Fisheries ministers ponder national aquaculture regulation

Vancouver Sun
September 6, 2012

Provincial and territorial fisheries ministers say they're talking about developing an aquaculture regulatory program — something that was the sole responsibility of provincial governments until a landmark court decision in B.C. forced that province to turn responsibility over to Ottawa two years ago.

The issue was on the table at a meeting of the Canadian Council of Fisheries and Aquaculture in Victoria.

The federal government took control of regulating B.C.'s aquaculture industry in 2010 after a B.C. Supreme Court judge ruled the province had to relinquish jurisdiction to Ottawa because Ottawa has oversight of offshore fisheries.

The shift put the federal government in control of the cultivation of fish, enforcement of new Pacific aquaculture regulations and the conditions of licensing for fish farms.

B.C.'s salmon farm industry has been the subject of several ongoing lawsuits and criticism from First Nations and environment groups who blame open-ocean salmon farms for spreading disease they blame for collapsing wild salmon stocks in the Pacific.

The ministers also discussed the importance of fisheries science in assessing stocks and protecting fisheries.

Read the original article in the Vancouver Sun.

Posted September 6th, 2012

44 Per Cent of Scottish Salmon Farms - Seabed Pollution Unsatisfactory [Scotland]

The Fish Site
September 6, 2012

Levels of seabed pollution at almost two thirds of Scottish marine salmon farms are either ‘unsatisfactory’ or ‘borderline’, according to Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA’s) own categorisation.

A report from the Salmon and Trout Association (S&TA) has today published a comprehensive analysis of reports obtained from SEPA under FOI.

The study reviewed 311 reports of seabed self-monitoring by farms between 2009 and March 2012. Of these 137 (44 per cent) were deemed by SEPA to be “unsatisfactory” (“beyond the assimilative capacity of the local environment”), 64 (21 per cent) were “borderline” (“close to having an unsustainable impact”) and only 106 (34 per cent) were “satisfactory”.

Hughie Campbell-Adamson, Chairman of S&TA Scotland, said: “This report is another damning indictment of the salmon farming industry. It is symptomatic of a systemic failure to control seabed pollution and throws into doubt whether the current expansion plans of the Scottish salmon farming industry in open-cage systems can ever be environmentally sustainable”.

Guy Linley-Adams, Solicitor to the S&TA Aquaculture Campaign and author of the analysis, said: “These findings are yet further evidence that open-cage salmon farming as practised in Scotland is inherently unsustainable. They support the S&TA’s conviction that the way forward over the medium-term is to move to closed containment units, from which all waste can be collected and treated or re-used in the same way as any terrestrial intensive food animal production factory unit would be required to do.

Read the full article in The Fish Site.

The full report by the Salmon and Trout Association is available here.

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Posted September 6th, 2012

B.C. farmed salmon on menu at U.S. Open

Tracy Sherlock
August 29, 2012
Vancouver Sun

Vancouver Island’s Skuna Bay Seafood will be providing its farmed B.C. salmon for the dining rooms at the U.S. Open Tennis Championship in New York this week.

Stewart Hawthorn, managing director and head farmer with Skuna Bay, said the company is thrilled to have its fish being served at the prestigious event. He declined to say what the exclusive deal is worth, but said Skuna Bay would be shipping about 800 fish (about 8,000 pounds) to New York for the championship.

“For us, this isn’t really about the money. We are making a profit on these fish, but what’s really exciting is that this is farm-raised salmon from B.C. being eaten at one of the top sporting events in the world,” Hawthorn said. “They saw what we are doing and they wanted to be part of it. This is a real endorsement.” . . . .

. . . . . Farmed salmon is controversial in B.C., both because of ecological and health concerns.

Diseases can spread from farmed salmon to wild salmon, and because farmed salmon are held in such proximity the diseases can amplify, said Karen Wristen, executive director at Living Oceans Society, a non-profit organization that tries to protect Canada’s oceans.

There is also a risk to juvenile wild salmon from sea lice, and to stellar sea lions and seals, which can become caught in the nets and drown, said Wristen’s co-worker Kelly Roebuck, sustainable seafood campaign manager at Living Oceans Society.

The fish farmed by Skuna Bay is Atlantic salmon, which Hawthorn said are the best fish to farm in B.C. from an environmental perspective because they take less resources to raise. They cannot survive in the Pacific Northwest, so will not interbreed if they escape. Diseases are less likely to spread between the two groups, he said.

Last month, two B.C. fish farms — including one owned by Grieg Seafood, which farms for Skuna Bay — culled hundreds of thousands of their Atlantic salmon stock after testing confirmed a small percentage carried an infectious virus.

The virus can be deadly to Atlantic salmon, B.C. Agriculture Ministry fish pathologist Gary Marty told The Vancouver Sun earlier this month. He said the virus poses less risk for wild fish species native to the Pacific, which have a natural resistance.

Read the complete story in the Vancouver Sun. 

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Posted September 4th, 2012

B.C. sturgeon farms angling to net big payoff from a hatching industry

Paul Luke
September 2, 2012
The Province

Steve Atkinson gets a tad defensive when he’s accused of mothering what is perhaps the ugliest fish in creation.

Even for an ordained Pentecostal minister, Atkinson goes too far when he forgives the sturgeon’s massively plain appearance.

Ponder the evidence: enormous schnozz, a lewd and toothless mouth, and four whiskers dangling like an old man’s forgotten chin hairs. Is there a plastic sturgeon surgeon in the house?

“Sturgeons are a neat looking fish,” Atkinson insists, unable to muster many supportive details.

“They’re absolutely amazing.”

Atkinson’s defence of the sturgeon is understandable. He owns Taste of BC Aquafarms, a Nanaimo-based company that launched a land-based sturgeon farm a year ago.

Taste of BC is B.C.’s second closed-containment sturgeon operation, following Sechelt-based Target Marine Hatcheries. Aquaculture industry insiders believe these two are just the beginning — the fin edge of the wedge.

Atkinson foresees a bright agri-future in B.C. for land-reared sturgeon as a world hungry for its caviar and flesh increasingly turns to farmed product. There’s little choice: wild sturgeon, a 200-million-year-old species that outlived the dinosaur, has been overfished to the point most global stocks are endangered or at risk.

Read the full article in The Province.

Posted September 2nd, 2012

Pancreas Disease Confirmed at Salmon Farm in Finnmark [Norway]

The Fish Site
August 31, 2012

Analysis has confirmed Pancreas Disease (PD) SAV 3 on a Mainestrem Norway salmon farm in Alta, Western Finnmark.

The suspicion arose on the 22 August and the farm was quarantined on the same day.

"The Food Safety Authority announced the decision to slaughter and decontaminate the fish and farm in anelgget and Mainstream began the cull early this week," says Vibeke Elvenes, District Manager at the District Office for West Finnmark.

The site will be fallowed for a period of at least two months," said Ms Elvenes.

The site lies at the Long Fjord in Alta. The nearest neighbour is Eidsnes 8 km away. The is only Mainstream Norway AS with farming activity in this fjord. The nearest farm is 12 km away.

Read the original article on The Fish Site.

Posted August 31st, 2012

Outlook is grim for Fraser sockeye

John Kurucz
August 24, 2012
Coquitlam Now

With the prospect of yet another year without commercial sockeye fishing in the Fraser River, scientists, ecologists and First Nations members are openly wondering if the fishery will ever recover.

Barry Rosenberger, co-chair of the Pacific Salmon Commission, told The NOW the roughly 2.3 million sockeye that have returned so far are not enough to open the fishery this year.

Though some fish still need to be counted, those numbers translate into a grim outlook for both commercial and recreational sockeye fishing this year.

"There's no one magical number that we look for, but we knew going into this year that if we got to the three million range, we would have likely had commercial fisheries," Rosenberger said. "But as of now, we are not anticipating a commercial or recreational fishery."

Last year, about four million fish returned to spawn, while roughly 25 million came back in 2010.

Though Kwikwetlem First Nation members are permitted to fish for sockeye, band chief Ron Giesbrecht has seen a sharp decline in stocks over the last five years.

In fact, a fishing trip Sunday netted him just shy of 40 fish in a 24-hour period. In the same time period last year, Giesbrecht brought home more than 200.

"A number of other things contribute to the problem, but the water is too warm," he said. "Our temperatures out there in the water are too hot for these fish. It needs to be colder."

Giesbrecht noted sockeye are the most coveted of the five Pacific salmon species for the Kwikwetlem due to the fish's high oil content. He added that his band hasn't even reached half of the yearly quota it is allowed for sockeye.

"When the commercial fisheries don't get an opening what that indicates to us is that there's no fish out there. It's very alarming for us," he said.

Read the original article in the Coquitlam Now.

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Posted August 24th, 2012

Salmon farms reel in conflict [New Zealand]

Penny Wardle
August 24, 2012
Marlborough Express

The economic benefits of nine new salmon farms will be weighed against their impact on the Marlborough Sounds and the effects on people who live, work and holiday there, in a hearing that opens in Blenheim on Monday.

The Environmental Protection Authority board of inquiry, which is expected to sit for up to 10 weeks, will hear arguments for and against a proposal that has polarised the Marlborough community.

King Salmon and its experts will work to convince the board that nine new fish farms would create jobs, income and export earnings. Their evidence will suggest the development is compatible with what company advertising describes as the "pristine waters" of the Marlborough Sounds.

Conspicuous by his absence from the list of King Salmon witnesses is chief executive Grant Rosewarne, who has been the company frontman leading up to hearing. Other company managers will be among those opening the case for the company with a nuts-and-bolts description of salmon farming in the Sounds.

Roughly two-thirds of the nearly 1300 submissions to the authority on the expansion plans opposed the proposal. This opposition, especially from the Marlborough District Council, has taken King Salmon managers by surprise. Early this year the company released a survey suggesting 68.5 per cent of Marlborough people knew about its expansion plans and 53.5 per cent supported the plans.

The council says King Salmon has challenged its Marlborough Sounds Resource Management Plan - which is based on 35 years of community input - with its plan to farm in an area where aquaculture is prohibited. The council's evidence will suggest the application overstates economic benefits and understates the environmental effects of the fish farms.

A key topic will be the effects on the water column, from the seabed to the sea-surface. Experts on both sides will use computer models to predict where waste from the farms could spread.

The Department of Conservation will argue that King Salmon has not given a full picture, ignoring combined effects of existing and new farms and underestimating increases in algal blooms.

Other topics will include seabed effects, marine mammals, seabirds, recreation and tourism, landscape, economics and navigation.

Read the full story in the Marlborough Express.

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Posted August 24th, 2012

Minister gets earful from fish farm foes [Nova Scotia]

Pat Lee
August 23, 2012
The Chronicle Herald

Environment Minister Sterling Belliveau received an earful from those opposed to open-pen salmon farming on the Eastern Shore when he toured Murphy Cove on Wednesday.

The owner of a campground and kayaking operation who is concerned about the impact on his business invited Belliveau to tour the scenic Halifax County area.

Wayne Mundle, an Association for the Preservation of the Eastern Shore member, said about 18 boats gathered around when the minister was taken on the cove tour. Some protesters took the opportunity to declare their displeasure with Belliveau either face to face or via banners.

“We just don’t see it as a healthy industry,” Mundle, who was at the protest, said later from his Mushaboom home.

“We don’t want to see this spread until they resolve the type of issues that (aquaculture farms) have been facing.”

He said he supports enclosed, land-based fish farms.

The Dexter government has financially and philosophically supported open-pen salmon farming in Nova Scotia.

Earlier this year, the province announced that it was lending $25 million to Cooke Aquaculture to expand its operations in Shelburne, Digby and Truro.

Read the full article in the Chronicle Herald.

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Posted August 23rd, 2012

'Depopulation' unfortunate key word in some farm sites

Dan MacLennan
August 22, 2012

The IHN virus continues to play havoc with BC Fish Farms, making 'depopulation' a key word in 2012 aquaculture industry reports.

Last week Mainstream Canada announced it was killing all the fish at its Millar Channel farm, northwest of Tofino, following a positive infectious haematopoetic necrosis virus test. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) ordered Mainstream to depopulate roughly 400 tons of fish at the site.

The fish had been in the water about six months. On Thursday, Mainstream announced the last of the fish had been killed and taken to a rendering facility.

The company said it was focusing on developing a plan for cleaning and disinfecting the farm site as required by CFIA.

"This is an unfortunate incident, but we are pleased with how smoothly the depopulation procedure went considering the situation," said Fernando Villarroel, Mainstream Canada's managing director.

"We are pleased with how the CFIA acted quickly to confirm the virus. Early detection of infectious diseases and swift and decisive actions help the long term sustainability of our business as responsible farmers."

For Mainstream, this marks the second depopulation of a farm this year due to the IHN virus.

Mainstream killed off roughly 570,000 Atlantic salmon, about 1.2 million pounds of fish, at its Dixon Bay farm after an IHN outbreak in May. Mainstream Canada is one of the largest salmon farming companies in BC, with 27 farm sites, four land-based hatcheries, one processing plant and over 260 employees.

Meanwhile Grieg Seafood BC confirmed last week it had completed depopulation of its Culloden Point fish farm in Jervis Inlet on the Sunshine Coast, following a positive IHN test result.

"There were 316,000 fish on the farm with an average weight of about 500 grams," Grieg's managing director Stewart Hawthorn told the Courier-Islander. "That made a total biomass of approximately 150MT (metric tonnes). By way of comparison, we harvest approximately 75 to 100MT of fish every day."

Read the full article in the Courier-Islander.

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Posted August 22nd, 2012

Recalculating the costs and consequences of fish farms in B.C.

Peter Ladner
August 14, 2012
Business in Vancouver

I used to be keenly interested in fish farming. I toured fish farms, processing plants and hatcheries. I once spoke at the national meeting of the Canadian aquaculture industry in Ottawa to say that opposition to fish farms was overblown and misguided. I earned that trip through a series of columns in BIV defending the industry from ridiculous claims such as fears that escaped Atlantic salmon would outmuscle the native Pacific salmon and take over local streams. Today, I’m not so sure about the industry. I’ve followed anti-fish farm crusader Alexandra Morton’s campaigns with interest, believing that “crusading scientist” is an oxymoron (notwithstanding Morton’s honorary degree from SFU) and refusing to believe that all the problems of B.C.’s wild salmon fisheries could be pinned on lice, disease or antibiotics from fish farms. I’ve listened to my friends in the aquaculture industry insist that “90% of what she’s saying is not true.” According to one, who wouldn’t speak for attribution, “They have never found a disease in [farmed] Atlantic salmon that is not already present in [wild] Pacific salmon.”

Then I accepted an invitation to hear Morton speak July 16 at the Royal Vancouver Yacht Club. About 200 people were there on short notice to help her raise funds for disease testing at the Salmon Coast Field Station (www.salmoncoast.org, www.deptwildsalmon.org) and for her advocacy group, the Pacific Coast Wild Salmon Society. There was money in the room.

Introduced by SFU professor of statistics Rick Routledge as one of the most competent scientists he had ever worked with, Morton launched into an impassioned and highly persuasive diatribe against an industry-government coverup of the spread of harmful European viruses from farmed salmon to B.C.’s beleaguered wild salmon stocks.

Read the full article in Business in Vancouver.

Posted August 14th, 2012

Call for closed-containment salmon farms

News 1130
August 12, 2012

The David Suzuki Foundation is calling for changes to salmon farming after the recent virus outbreak at a fish farm on the Sunshine Coast .

The Foundation's Jay Ritchlin says fish need to be farmed in a way that won't damage the environment. He believes the current open-net caged system allows disease, parasites, waste and diseased fish to enter the wild environment freely.

"It says to us just how impossible it is to completely control diseases and parasites going in and out of open-net caged salmon farms," Ritchlin notes. "For us, it's another indication that for the good of the industry and the good of the environment, we need to move to closed-containment systems to grow these kinds of fish."

"Closed-containment allows the farmer to be the one to pay for taking care of [the salmon] instead of the environment paying to do that," he adds.

Last week tests confirmed an outbreak of the IHN virus at Grieg Seafoods Culloden Point fish farm in Jervis Inlet.

IHN has no effect on human health.

Read the original story on News 1130.

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Posted August 12th, 2012

Bid to close fish farms could go to Supreme Court

Judith Lavoie
August 9, 2012
Times Colonist

A Vancouver Island First Nation is applying for permission to appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada in an effort to close down open net-pen fish farms in Broughton Archipelago.

The Kwicksutaineuk/Ah-Kwa-Mish First Nation initially launched the lawsuit based on claims of damage to wild salmon from sea lice from fish farms, but issues of deadly viruses and diseases from fish farms are now much wider, said Chief Bob Chamberlin.

"Our First Nation, that holds title, simply doesn't want this industry in our territory," he said. However, before arguing the salmon case, the First Nation has to be granted permission to act legally as a group.

The Supreme Court of B.C. in 2010 set aside a bar on aboriginal groups or collectives joining together for a class-action suit. But the provincial and federal governments challenged the ruling, and in May it was overturned by the B.C. Court of Appeal.

The First Nation has applied to the Supreme Court of Canada for leave to appeal that decision. If leave is granted, the Supreme Court will consider whether the First Nation -- and other aboriginal collectives -- will be allowed to file class-action proceedings.

"It's like saying a class action is for everyone except First Nations people," Chamberlin said of the B.C. Court of Appeal's decision.

Lawyer Reidar Mogerman, who is representing the First Nation, said a ruling on aboriginal class-action suits must be made before the rest of the case can proceed and that decision is likely to be at least a year away.

The implications could be felt across Canada, said Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, president of the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs. "Our First Nations across the country will be watching this case very, very closely."

Read the full story in the Times Colonist. 

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Posted August 9th, 2012

ASF attacks closed containment “myths”

Fish News EU
July 30, 2012

Canada's Atlantic Salmon Federation (ASF) has once again reiterated its support for salmon farming to be transferred to terrestrial systems and has expressed its concern over the “fallacies and myths perpetuated by the salmon farming industry on the feasibility of closed containment.”

The federation argues that viable technologies to produce healthy fish completely separate from the surrounding environment and wild fish are being utilised throughout the world.  “Interest is growing among farmers who recognise that there is a lucrative market in supplying chefs and customers, who increasingly demand  fish grown in an environmentally-sustainable manner,” said Bill Taylor, President of ASF.  

A partnership between The Conservation Fund Freshwater Institute of West Virginia and ASF is producing healthy, unstressed farmed salmon, free of disease and sea lice, without vaccines, harsh chemicals, and antibiotics in closed-containment freshwater facilities on land. “Our goal,” continued Taylor, “is to give fish farmers and regulators the opportunity to choose a different way to grow fish that is, not only better for the environment, but better for business too.”

The group feels that the salmon farming industry greatly underplays the environmental impacts of farming salmon in open net pens in the ocean. Just one example is this industry’s portrayal of outbreaks of Infectious Salmon Anemia (ISA) as a disease occurring naturally and to be expected as part of the business of farming salmon. In fact, this deadly flu-like disease is spread quickly among farmed salmon that are stressed in densely-packed open ocean net cages, wherever these farms exist – Norway, Scotland, the Faroes, Chile, Maine, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and now Newfoundland and Labrador. In the Atlantic Canadian aquaculture industry, millions of farmed salmon have had to be slaughtered and the industry compensated with millions of taxpayers’ dollars from provincial and federal governments. Taylor questioned: “Would it not be more ‘economical’ to circumvent the expense of destruction and compensation by growing in disease-free closed containment facilities?”

On the other hand, say the ASF, the industry greatly exaggerates the amount of land, water, and energy required in land-based freshwater closed containment facilities. The media has quoted the industry as saying that 8,000 football fields would be required to put the salmon farming operations of NB and NS on land. In 2010, Canada produced 39,000 tonnes of farmed salmon on the Atlantic coast. The Conservation Fund Freshwater Institute in its research over two decades has found that growing  30,000 tonnes of salmon per year would require only 75 to 150 football fields (including the end zones), and growing 100,000 tonnes per year would require well under 500.

Read the full story in Fish News EU.

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Posted July 30th, 2012

Canada spearheading new type of fish farm

Radio Canada International
July 23, 2012

A unique partnership between a small Canadian aboriginal community and a pair of environmental groups is set to change the way salmon is farmed in Canada.

The Namgis Closed Containment project is unfolding near Port McNeil on northern-eastern Vancouver Island in British Columbia.

It aims to raise Atlantic salmon in hi-tech land-based pens rather than in nets that sit in the open ocean.

Jackie Hildering is the communication director for the Save Our Salmon Marine Conservation Foundation, a joint partner in the initiative:

“The absolute core intent of this is to change industry, to show that closed containment salmon farming can create a more desirable product that is highly economic without impacts to the environment.”

It’s all part of a multi-year, $7 million, five module plan to address environmental problems associated with open-water fish farming; disease, parasites, the use-of antibiotics and “escapees.”

Read the full story on Radio Canada International.

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Posted July 26th, 2012

N.S. Tories want fewer open-pen fish farms [East Coast]

Chronicle Herald
July 22, 2012

Nova Scotia’s Conservative party wants the Dexter government to slow down open-pen fish farming in the province.

In a release Saturday, Tory Leader Jamie Baillie said the approval of applications for new salmon farms should be withheld by the province.

He said “the public has no confidence in” the type of aquaculture under consideration in parts of Nova Scotia, so a moratorium is warranted.

The aquaculture industry must be sustainable and in harmony with coastal communities, Baillie said.

Residents are also worried about what seems to be a “rubber-stamped” applications process, he said.

The Conservatives’ release said Baillie recently met with residents and business owners from the Eastern Shore, and has met with “many concerned Nova Scotians” in coastal communities during the past few months.

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Posted July 23rd, 2012

Discovery of deadly salmon virus in freshwater fish puts pressure on B.C. to conduct wider study

Larry Pynn
July 19, 2012
Vancouver Sun

A virus linked to the death of farmed salmon has for the first time been found in B.C. freshwater fish — cutthroat trout in Cultus Lake — a research team reported Thursday.

Researchers say the finding should spur the B.C. government, which is responsible for management of freshwater fish, to launch a thorough study to determine how widespread piscine reovirus (PRV) is and whether it is fatal to native fish.

"This concerns me greatly," said professor Rick Routledge, a Simon Fraser University fish-population statistician. "The province needs to pay attention to this because we have evidence it is found within freshwater fish."

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency announced this week it would be testing B.C. wild salmon to determine the status of three salmon diseases: infectious haematopoietic necrosis, infectious pancreatic necrosis, and infectious salmon anaemia.

"PRV is not on their list," Routledge noted in an interview.

Evidence of PRV was found in 13 of 15 sampled fish. Follow-up analyses further confirmed the virus' presence in these fish and identified their genetic sequencing as 99 per cent identical to Norwegian strains, casting doubt on the virus being native to B.C.

The virus has been linked to heart and skeletal muscle inflammation, a disease that has reportedly become widespread in Norwegian salmon farms and can lead to fish mortality.

Also involved in the research discovery were Fred Kibenge, a virology professor at the Atlantic Veterinary College in Prince Edward Island, and Stan Proboszcz, a fisheries biologist with B.C.'s Watershed Watch Salmon Society.

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Posted July 20th, 2012

Testing under way for wild salmon diseases

July 20, 2012

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency has begun collecting and testing wild salmon off the coast of British Columbia to determine the status of three salmon diseases: infectious haematopoietic necrosis, infectious pancreatic necrosis and infectious salmon anaemia.

While all three diseases are no risk to human health, they are highly contagious and can cause mortality in wild and aquaculture salmon.

Infectious haematopoietic necrosis is known to exist in certain species and populations of wild finfish in British Columbia. The surveillance initiative will determine its presence in certain species and populations of wild finfish in British Columbia. Infectious pancreatic necrosis and infectious salmon anaemia have not been confirmed in British Columbia.

Through this initiative, approximately 5,000 wild salmon will be collected annually, for a minimum of two years. The Agency will also evaluate the ongoing testing of farmed salmon.

Read the full story in the Courier-Islander.

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Posted July 20th, 2012

Salmon farm tour program sets sail

July 20, 2012

Local salmon farms are once again opening their doors to the public for the BC Salmon Farmers Association's summer tour program out of Campbell River.

"These tours are a great opportunity for people to come and see for themselves the diligence and hard work each farmer puts towards carrying for their fish, and to ask any questions they have about how farms operate each day," said David Minato, Member and Community Relations Co-ordinator.

The tours run each Thursday until Sept. 13, each week bringing up to 11 people to a Campbell River-area farm to learn more about finfish aquaculture: an important local business which is sometimes misunderstood.

This public program is starting a few weeks later than usual this year as a result of heightened biosecurity measures temporarily in place by local companies. Tours resume on Thursday, July 26.

"We're glad to have this program back for the sixth year running: it really is the best way for people to learn, first hand, about salmon farming. Our farmers are happy to have visitors so they can share more about the work they're so proud to do," said Mary Ellen Walling, Executive Director of the BCSFA.

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Posted July 20th, 2012

Infected salmon will not be eaten by humans [East Coast]

July 17, 2012

Newfoundland and Labrador's Fisheries Minister said infected salmon ordered killed at an aquaculture site on the south coast will not go to market for human consumption.

Darin King confirmed that 450,000 fish, located at Gray Aqua Group's salmon farm in Butter Cove, will be disposed of in other ways.

"In this particular case, none of these are going to be harvested for consumers," said King. "They're all going to be destroyed through fish meal or landfill or some other appropriate means."

On July 6, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency confirmed some of the 450,000 fish had infectious salmon anemia, a disease which kills fish, but which the agency said is harmless to human health.

The entire stock was worth $10 million, and about half the fish were ready to go to market.

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Posted July 17th, 2012

When the salmon never came

Kevin Drews
July 15, 2012
Times Colonist

In 2009, about one-tenth of an expected 10 million sockeye returned to the Fraser River watershed.

A study cites lack of food and poor conditions in Georgia Strait.

Juvenile sockeye salmon likely didn't have enough food to survive as they travelled in poor conditions through Georgia Strait in 2007, resulting in abysmal returns to the Fraser River two years later, a new study suggests.

Scientists came to that conclusion after crunching fisheries and meteorological data, which the federal government began collecting in the late 1990s.

Their findings, originally presented to the judicial inquiry examining the historically low sockeye returns, have been published in three papers in the journal Marine and Coastal Fisheries: Dynamics, Management, and Ecosystem Science.

The publication comes before B.C. Supreme Court Justice Bruce Cohen is expected to present his findings into the issue in September.

"If you've got these years where oceanic conditions are unfavourable to food production, you're really going to have trouble with the stocks," said Richard Thomson, a Fish-eries Department oceanographer and a study co-author.

In 2009, only about onetenth of the expected 10 million sockeye returned to the watershed, sparking the federally appointed Cohen Commission to examine what caused the 2009 collapse of the Fraser River sockeye.

Numerous theories on why the sharp decline resulted were presented at the 21-month inquiry that wrapped up last November in Vancouver.

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Posted July 15th, 2012

First Nation has high hopes for fish farm

Wendy Stueck
July 6, 2012
Globe and Mail

An experiment unfolding near Port McNeill on northern Vancouver Island is designed to settle a long-running debate over whether a land-based system can raise fish from fry to market-size entirely on land – and make enough money to persuade investors to back the capital-intensive operations.

The $7-million ‘Namgis Closed Containment Project is also part of broader business plans for the ‘Namgis First Nation, which will build and run it through the band-owned K’udas Limited Partnership.

If the project goes according to plan, it will demonstrate that Atlantic salmon can be raised on land – challenging the status quo of sea-based fish farming on the B.C. coast and generating potential revenue and employment for band members.

That has implications not only for the ‘Namgis, which has a registered population of about 1,750 people, but for other bands along the coast.

“There’s a lot of interest from other First Nations, especially from Ahousaht,” ‘Namgis chief Bill Cranmer said in June at the fish farm site.

Ahousaht and other remote communities depend on jobs and income generated by conventional fish farm operations. Mr. Cranmer contends land-based systems can provide similar benefits without environmental risks that some associate with the ocean-based operations.

Once the ‘Namgis project is up and running, it’s expected to employ fewer than a dozen people. The bigger potential is in selling the end product, Atlantic salmon, and possibly branching out to other species, including B.C.’s native Pacific salmon.

The idea is to prove first that a closed-containment system can compete in producing the species that now dominates the aquaculture industry. “There’s nothing to say we can’t change species,” Mr. Cranmer said.

Read the full story in the Globe and Mail

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Posted July 9th, 2012

Farmed Fish To Exceed Wild Fish In Human Consumption By 2018, FAO Says

Huffington Post
July 9, 2012

Aquaculture output is expected to rise 33 percent over the next decade helping to meet the world's growing demand for fish as healthy and nutritious food gains popularity while fishing stagnates, the United Nations' food agency said on Monday.

World fisheries and aquaculture production is projected to rise to about 172 million tonnes in 2021, 15 percent up from the average level for 2009-2011, the UN's Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) said in a report.

A 33 percent surge in output of aquaculture, or farming fish, crustaceans, mollusks and aquatic plants, over the period of 2012-2021 to 79 million tonnes compared with the three percent growth of capture fisheries, it said.

"Aquaculture will remain one of the fastest-growing animal food-producing sectors," the report said.

By 2018, farmed fish is expected to exceed captured fish for human consumption for the first time and its share is seen at 52 percent in 2021.

Fish demand has been on the rise because fish and fishery products represent a valuable source of protein and essential micronutrients for balanced nutrition and good health.

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Posted July 9th, 2012

Canada's PM Stephen Harper faces revolt by scientists

The Guardian
July 9, 2012

Canada's prime minister, Stephen Harper, faces a widening revolt by the country's leading scientists against sweeping cuts to government research labs and broadly pro-industry policies.

The scientists plan to march through Ottawa in white lab coats on Tuesday in the second big protest in a month against the Harper government's science and environmental agenda.

Harper is accused of pushing through a slew of policies weakening or abolishing environmental protections – with an aim of expanding development of natural resources such as the Alberta tar sands.

His government is also accused of jeopardising Canada's scientific reputation by shutting down the Experimental Lakes Area (ELA), a research station that produced critical evidence to help stop acid rain.

"In my view there are a lot of attempts in this country, and other countries too, to push through resource-based economies," said Prof John Smol, a freshwater lake biologist at Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario. "People working at ELA are constantly finding reasons why you can't just put a pipeline here, or an industry there, because there are going to be environmental costs."

Andrew Weaver, a climate scientist at the University of Victoria in British Columbia, was even more pointed. "It's not about saving money. It's about imposing ideology," he said. "What's happening here is that the government has an ideological agenda to develop the Canadian economy based on the extraction of oil out of the Alberta tar sands as quickly as possible and sell it as fast as it can, come hell and high water, and eliminate any barriers that stand in their way."

However, a spokeswoman for Gary Goodyear, the minister of state for science and technology, said the government remained committed to funding science. "Our government has made historic investments in science, technology and research to create jobs, grow our economy, and improve the quality of life for Canadians," she said.

But Canadian government officials also indirectly confirmed scientists' charges that Harper was far more interested in funding research with direct industry applications, than in funding pure science or environmental research. 

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Posted July 9th, 2012

The First Global Standards for Salmon Farming

Glenn Collins
July 5, 2012
New York Times

After eight years of spirited debate and delicate diplomacy, a consortium of environmental organizations, commercial fishing executives, scientists and government officials has developed the first comprehensive global standards for salmon farming.

The 91-page document specifies 100 fish-farming standards, from the use of feed and antibiotics to pesticides and fish-cage construction, and is expected to be implemented later this year by the Aquaculture Stewardship Council, a nonprofit monitoring group based in Utrecht, the Netherlands.

The new set of standards could raise the bar for farm-raised salmon sold at retail outlets in the future, because it would enable certified aquaculture farms to display a retail label — on packaging or at store counters – designating salmon “A.S.C. Certified.”

“We’re all quite glad to have reached agreement,” said Katherine Bostick, the senior aquaculture program officer for the World Wildlife fund, which was a co-founder of the council and also helped found the Marine Stewardship Council, which certifies sustainably caught wild fish.

The development of the standard was accomplished by a nine-member steering committee participating in what it called a dialogue of 500 participants from government, academia, industry and nongovernmental organizations. Through the years, there were 16 meetings in cities around the globe, and during the complex process, many drafts of standards were submitted, revised and resubmitted

Among the steering committee members were the Wildlife Fund, the Pew Environment Group, the Canadian Aquaculture Industry Alliance, the Norwegian Seafood Federation, SalmonChile Corporation, Fundacion Terram (a nonprofit Chilean group supporting sustainability) and Skretting, a fish-feed company.

During the discussions, some industry participants complained that environmentalists were unduly influencing the standards, while some environmentalists said that disproportionate weight had been given to the concerns of the salmon-farming industry.


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Posted July 5th, 2012

Marine Harvest gets certification

July 4, 2012

Marine Harvest Canada (MHC), BC's largest supplier of BC farmraised salmon, announced June 28 that it has achieved the Global Aquaculture Alliance's Best Aquaculture Practices (BAP) certification at five marine salmon farm sites.

Third party audits of the BAP Salmon Farms standard will continue at all remaining MHC salmon farms, the company said. Successful certification of these additional sites will guarantee a continuous supply of certified product for Marine Harvest Canada customers.

"We are extremely pleased to have achieved this certification milestone which demonstrates our commitment to environmental integrity and continual improvement throughout our operations," said Clare Backman, Sustainability Director.

An MHC release said the BAP standard for Salmon Farms ensures the environmental impacts of aquaculture - water quality, feed resource conservation, fish escapes and wildlife interaction - are reduced or eliminated. It also covers community, animal health and welfare as well as food safety aspects of farming operations.

Read the full story in the Courier-Islander.

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Posted July 4th, 2012

Sockeye salmon numbers falling in B.C., northwest U.S.: SFU study

Kevin Drews
July 3, 2012
Vancouver Sun

Sockeye salmon spawning on the rivers and streams of Washington state, British Columbia and southeastern Alaska have been producing fewer and fewer adults over the last six decades, a new study suggests.

In one dramatic example, the Fraser River's early Stuart sockeye run produced 20 adults for every spawning sockeye during the 1960s, but productivity had dropped to about three adults per spawner by the mid-2000s, said Randall Peterman, co-author of the study and a professor at Simon Fraser University in Burnaby, B.C.

Around Washington state, British Columbia, and eastern Alaska, the story's been much the same, with some populations dropping below the replacement ratio of one adult per spawning salmon, he added.

The topic known as productivity -- which is measured by the number of adults produced by each spawning salmon -- is addressed in a paper published today in the "Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences."

"People who rely on salmon for their livelihoods, or their First Nations food and social and ceremonial purposes, really find sockeye populations very valuable, and so it's important to keep them going at a productive level," said Peterman who conducted the research with post-doctoral fellow Brigitte Dorner.

"Furthermore, there are very strong and important concerns about the long-term viability of many sockeye populations as well as other salmon populations, other species."

Since sockeye salmon are adaptable, their declining productivity may suggest that something is going wrong in the ecological system, he added.

Read the full story in the Vancouver Sun.

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Posted July 3rd, 2012