800,000 wild fish killed by salmon delousing – claim

Herring Wiki Commons - Atle Grimsby

Tens of thousands of herring were killed in salmon delousing operations in British Columbia, Canada last year, it has been revealed.

The information has been collected by the Canadian Department of Fisheries and Oceans which shows that around 817,000 wild fish – most of them herring – perished in operations in 2022 as the result of using technology designed to remove sea lice.

The disclosure this week has caused something of an uproar among certain conservation groups in the province.

According to the broadcaster CBC some of the groups are claiming that juvenile herring caught in salmon hydro-delousing equipment had their eyes blown out.

The alarm was raised by the Watershed Watch Salmon Society which says that data collected by the Fisheries and Oceans Department has shown a huge increase in wild fish killed in salmon farming operations in the province.

According to the department there was a near five-fold increase from the previous year and a 21-fold increase from 2020.

“This problem is getting significantly worse,” said Stan Proboszcz, senior scientist with Watershed Watch Salmon Society. “We’re seeing unprecedented levels of wild fish caught and killed by the salmon farming industry, and that’s a great concern.”

Documents obtained by biologist and activist Alexandra Morton through a Freedom of Information request show DFO staff discussing internally the “significant negative attention” expected from the publication of the data.

The documents describe an estimated 130,000 herring that were killed in Clayoquot Sound in March 2021 by salmon farm operator Cermaq Canada during a mechanical sea lice removal treatment known as hydrolicing.

The BC Salmon industry has yet to comment on the claims.

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