SeaLegacy believes that fish farming can be done better, and we stand with both First Nations and wild salmon to make it happen. The current state of aquaculture in British Columbian waters is a murky affair. The mostly Norwegian-owned and -operated farms bring in approximately $55.7-million annually, and create approximately 1700 jobs. But all is not well in our formerly salmon-rich oceans. Why? We address the causes for concern below, and attempt to explore the solutions, like land-based closed containment aquaculture.
Sea lice are a naturally occurring species in Pacific waters, but reproduce exponentially in farmed salmon pens. When wild salmon inevitably come into exposure with them during salmon runs—almost 100% of fish farms lies along wild salmon migration routes—the effect is disastrous. Antibiotics fight off the lice, but become resistant quickly. Treatment of sea lice can cause harm to other species, like lobster—Canada’s largest fishery.
Infectious Salmon Anemia Virus (ISAV)
ISAV is a highly lethal virus found in farmed salmon worldwide. It is a member of the influenza family, and can mutate to higher virulence in the feedlot-style pens found in Canadian fish farms. It was discovered in Norway in 1984, spread to Chile via Atlantic salmon eggs, and caused $2-billion in damages. It cannot be eradicated once it appears. ISAV has been found in Canadian farmed salmon.
A S***ty Situation
Each fish farm produces multiple tons of feces each day, all concentrated along migratory routes of wild salmon instead of spreading out over thousands of kilometres. The concentrated amounts of nitrogen and phosphorous cause toxic algae blooms which effect most species, not just the wild salmon who migrate through it.
A Matter of Taste
Have you tasted wild salmon? It’s gloriously delicious, flaky and rich in colour. In stark contrast you have farmed salmon, with its mushy flesh and grey hue. Operators dye farmed salmon via astaxanthin tablets in their feed, so the flesh appears a wild pink. Gross, right? You can tell the difference by the lines of white fat in the farmed fish. Wild salmon has firm, dark pink flesh. What is your sushi restaurant serving you? Ask them.
Bring it Onshore
Currently, land-based closed containment is a realistic alternative, with pilot projects on First Nations territory on Vancouver Island, and a $350-million project in Florida, among other places. Norwegian bankers have largely moved away from investing in ocean-based fish farms in Norway (the country has ceased issuing new licenses, as has Washington State). Investors are instead putting their money into land-based closed containment. Will the Canadian government read the writing on the wall before our wild salmon stocks suffer its greatest loss—extinction? Already, there are rivers on Northern Vancouver Island that are seeing extinction-level counts of Pink salmon. It’s time to get this show onto land.
Are you ready to make the pledge to #GetTheFishFarmsOut with SeaLegacy? Click here to tell the B.C. and Canadian governments to legislate fish farms out of the ocean and onto land.