Océans en santé. Communautés en santé

Mainstream salmon farms blatantly violate licenses

October 27, 2008
For years Province turns blind eye to company producing thousands of tonnes over permitted limits

Vancouver/Sointula, B.C. - Living Oceans Society revealed today that it has uncovered years of unlicensed over-production on Mainstream Canada’s salmon farms in the beleaguered Broughton Archipelago off northern Vancouver Island.

“This demonstration of contempt for Canadian regulations by Norwegian multinational Cermaq, Mainstream’s parent company, and Cermaq’s major shareholder, the Government of Norway, is appalling,” said Catherine Stewart, Living Ocean’s Salmon Farming Campaign Manager. “The fact that this has been allowed to continue for at least six years indicates a massive failure of enforcement and management on the part of the B.C. government.” 

Living Oceans Society was alerted to the over-production by one line in the Ministry of Agriculture and Lands (MAL’s) annual “Compliance Report” on marine finfish aquaculture. Buried in the standard claims of overwhelming compliance by industry was the statement, “Eight sites were found to be in excess of their production limit.” The report failed to identify the responsible company, the sites or the extent of over-production.

Although salmon farms operate in ocean waters belonging to all Canadians, it is next to impossible to obtain details on their permitted, licensed production and actual production.

After much research, Living Oceans Society verified that in two 18-month production cycles between 2001 and 2003, Mainstream exceeded licensed production on their Broughton farms by 9,490 metric tonnes (mt). From 2004 to 2006, inclusive, the over production was 13,594 mt, almost double their licensed limit.

Assuming two production cycles over three years, the maximum amount Mainstream could legally produce on all their Broughton salmon farms combined would be 14,620 mt. From 2004 to 2006 Mainstream’s actual production was 28,214 mt.

“Cermaq/Mainstream is currently applying for license renewals on many of these same farms,” Stewart said. “Living Oceans Society is calling on the B.C. government to levy heavy fines against this Norwegian corporation’s violation of our regulations, and to renew the company’s licenses only if the permits are for closed containment operations.”

MAL has told Living Oceans Society the violations are being addressed. The company will now be held to their licensed production levels. However, there has been no mention of disciplinary action or penalties.



Will Soltau, Living Oceans Salmon Farming Campaign Manager, 
Office: (250) 973-6580


Violating Licenced Production

Mainstream Broughton salmon farms licensed production
North Wishart (aka Simoon Sound) 140 metric tonnes (mt)
Burdwood 3,000 mt
Cliff Bay  300 mt
Sir Edmund 1,000 mt
Cypress  10 mt 
Cecil  650 mt
Maude 860 mt
Mt. Simmonds 675 mt
Whelis Bay 675 mt
(source: B.C. Ministry of Agriculture and Lands)

Licensed production is not per-annum; it is per "production cycle." A production cycle in B.C.'s salmon farming industry averages 18 months from the time young fish are placed into open net-cages in the ocean (direct from the hatchery) to full grow-out and harvesting for market.

Assuming two, 18 month production cycles over 3 years, the maximum amount Mainstream could legally produce on all of their Broughton farms combined would be 14,620 metric tonnes during a three year period.

But that maximum assumes all farms are always stocked. They are not. Harvests are staggered to provide constant fresh market supply, and after harvesting, farms must be fallowed (left empty) for at least one or two months to allow sulphide levels in the benthos (sea bottom) under the pens to return to 'normal' levels. 

Therefore we could assume that the most Mainstream could produce (within licensed limits) in a three year period would be between 10,000 to 12,000 mt, perhaps as high as 13,000 mt.

Mainstream's actual production on Broughton salmon farms 2000-2006
2000 5,977 mt

Total licensed production during each two grow-out cycle (three year) period: 14,620 mt.

EXCESS PRODUCTION 2001-2003: 9,490 mt over licensed level

For the three year period of 2004-2006 Mainstream's total Broughton production was 28,214 mt.

EXCESS PRODUCTION 2004-2006: 13,594 mt over licensed level

Total production above licensed limits from 2001 to 2006 inclusive: 23,084 mt.

(source: B.C. Ministry of Environment)