I would like to express my extreme concern about the failure of the wild stocks of sockeye salmon that for centuries have returned to the Fraser and other rivers in BC. As a society we must recognize this precious wonder or it will be lost to us forever. A major factor that I believe has significantly contributed to the demise of these runs has been the proliferation of fish farms up the coast. So many attributes of these farms are so alien to anything natural that it is amazing that regulatory bodies such as the various departments of Fisheries have allowed their existence.
These feed lots should never have been allowed to operate as open containment because they put too much of a strain on the existing NATURAL ecosystems.
Some of the reasons why I think open containment fish farms pose a grave risk to our wild stocks are:
1) the allowance of foreign egg stocks to be introduced into the ocean environment, including eggs from a hatchery that does not meet the Canadian Fish Health Regulations is reprehensible. The introduction of the ISA virus in this area is currently a significant threat. This alone should require every Atlantic farmed salmon facility to shut down immediately. If we are not too late to contain this it will be a miracle.
2) the regular use of antibiotics to combat the inevitable spread of disease because the farmed fish are in such close proximity to each other in the pens subjects the natural environment to regular doses of antibiotics and other drugs that are not normal. It also exposes the entire ecosystem to different diseases that are increasing virulent due to the development of drug resistance. Drug resistant sea lice increasingly infect the wild salmon as they migrate by the pens.
3) intensive feeding of the penned salmon of commercially obtained pellets containing by catch (puts species that naturally feed on these organisms at risk because of diminishing supply) and other ingredients that saturate the area with the excess effluent
4) farming Atlantic salmon in a place where they do not naturally exist risks the introduction of a foreign potentially invasive species into the environment when escapes are allowed to occur.
5)the level of excrement that this method of fish farming imposes on the natural environment is huge. Even the natural flushing ability of the ocean is no match for the constant barrage of sewage that these facilities spew out each day
6)catching other natural species at the time of harvest of this foreign species. This is a frequent occurrence due to the accelerated forced feeding methods that are applied to maximize growth/weight added in minimal time.
7)the increased incidence of sea lice infestation of the young wild sockeye particularly for those runs which typically must migrate past existing fish farm facilities(the number of facilities is extreme- occupying most migration routes)
8)evidence of collapse of wild species in other countries primarily attributed to the proliferation of fish farms
Please do take this threat to the environment and specifically this species seriously. I would like future generations to be able to experience the annual migration of the sockeye to their spawning beds so that circle of life of this species can continue.
Darlene Heath BSc., BEd.,