Healthy Oceans. Healthy Communities.

New Recruits Occupy Salmon Farm

April 30, 2024

The campaign to remove open-net pen salmon farms from BC waters welcomed new recruits in  March: over 300 sea lions occupied a single farm in Clayoquot Sound, according to our colleagues at Clayoquot Action.

The farm, Saranac, was not stocked with fish at the time of the occupation. Nevertheless, farm employees were filmed throwing things at the sea lions to try to scare them off. It is illegal, under the Marine Mammal Protection Act, to try to induce a sea lion to move. While in years past, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans would permit the salmon aquaculture industry to shoot sea lions entering stocked farms, that practice was discontinued when the United States decided it would no longer allow imports of fish products farmed or caught in ways that endanger marine mammals. Last we asked, DFO was still contemplating what deterrent measures it would permit.

This isn’t the first time sea lions have occupied salmon farms on the BC coast, but it does appear to be the largest occupation to date. Usually, they are drawn to stocked farms, where they feast on farmed salmon. In April of 2022, a couple of dozen sea lions invaded Cermaq’s Rant Point farm and seemed unimpressed when explosives were lobbed at them by farm employees.

Photo credit: Jérémy Mathieu