Healthy Oceans. Healthy Communities.

Safe Salmon Update

October 4, 2021

Speaking of the power of coming together, you did us proud in the leadup to the election. Hundreds of letters went out to MPs letting them know that experimental, semi-closed salmon farms are not the answer to protecting wild salmon! Living Oceans has long been concerned that all of our efforts to date will come to little more than tinkering with the ocean netpens—unless we make it clear that we’re on to that trick.

Semi-closed systems were the focus of a brilliant video released by Clayoquot Action this past month, showing that all the effluent from a pilot site in Clayoquot Sound is still being pumped directly into this UN Biosphere Reserve. That’s especially troubling, since the technology exists to remove the solids from the effluent – and it’s the solids that carry the largest amount of PRV (piscine orthoreovirus). The virus causes jaundice/anemia in Chinook salmon and a disease similar to Heart and Skeletal Muscle Inflammation in coho. Brought here in imported salmon farm eggs in the early days of salmon farming, the virus is now virtually everywhere in the wild and farmed salmon populations.

Even if semi-closed systems were operated with the sewage diversion in place, the liquid effluent from the farms carries its own load of viruses and bacteria like Tenacibaculum maritimum, which the Strategic Salmon Health Initiative has shown to have a very strong correlation with poor returns, particularly of Fraser River sockeye.

The good news is that it seems all parties got the message: all parties have made specific commitments to remove open netpens from BC waters.  With no opposition in the House of Commons, we will be reminding the new government that we expect further action on this file: we need a transition plan that supports local communities through a transition to land-based salmon farming, regenerative aquaculture or other economic development opportunities while attacking all the causes of salmon decline with a renewed commitment to rebuilding stocks.