Canada: Scientists call for salmon farmers to switch to closed containment Published: 19 September, 2007
NORTH American scientists have written to Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and BC Premier Gordon Campbell, highlighting what they describe as “the threat” to BC’s wild Pacific salmon from sea lice breeding on farmed salmon, and calling for the industry to switch to closed containment systems.
The 18 scientists, who hail from a range of organisations and institutes, and include prominent anti-salmon farm campaigners, state: “We, the undersigned, are convinced by the published scientific evidence that the debate is over; sea lice breeding on farmed salmon are threatening BC’s wild Pacific salmon. There are many threats to wild salmon; however there is now extensive peer-reviewed science that sea lice spread from farm to wild salmon and kill juvenile wild salmon. In some cases, sea lice originating from salmon farms are estimated to have killed up to 95% of the wild juvenile salmon that pass salmon farms during their ocean migrations. This is unacceptable for any industry.”
They claim that scientific literature reports that sea lice infestations of wild, juvenile salmon are associated with salmon farms and wild salmon population declines in several countries including Canada, Norway, Scotland, and Ireland.
The letter also refers to comments made in July in the Norwegian press by John Fredriksen, owner of Marine Harvest. He reportedly said: “I am concerned about the future for wild salmon. Fish farming should not be allowed in fjords with salmon rivers. “
The letter continues:
“Earlier this year, the BC Special Legislative Committee on Sustainable Aquaculture recommended granting no new net pen farm licenses and moving all existing salmon farms into close-contained facilities. Despite this Pat Bell, British Columbia’s Minister of Agriculture and Lands, has granted three more net pen licenses.
“In consultation with the salmon farming industry and Fisheries and Oceans Canada, the Pacific Salmon Forum spent $315,000 of the public’s funds collecting a baseline dataset to examine sea lice response to fallowing salmon farms. But as of today, Marine Harvest and Mainstream Canada have restocked farms spanning the entire Broughton Archipelago. Consequently this definitive study is no longer possible.”
The letter ends with a call for the industry to switch to closed containment systems.
“We are aware that such changes may have economic consequences for the industry. The science is clear. It is now up to the government and the people of Canada to decide whether the economic benefits of aquaculture, as currently practised, outweigh the threats to wild salmon and the ecosystems and economies that depend on healthy and abundant wild salmon populations,” it concludes.
Meanwhile, a separate letter – signed by 33 fishing, tourist, community, First Nation and environmental groups in six countries – has been sent to Marine Harvest today, applauding the comments made by John Fredriksen in July, regarding his concerns over interaction between wild and farmed fish.
In the letter, the groups say they look forward to specific commitments and a timetable from Marine Harvest in Canada, Norway, Scotland and Ireland regarding removing salmon farms from fjords, lochs, loughs and bays on the migratory routes of wild salmon and from sea trout nursery areas.
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