Submission 0353-ASKGAARD

Submitter: Ivan Askgaard

Community: Powell River

Date Submitted: November 11, 2023

DFO should invest in further scientific research to determine the precise effect of sea lice on wild salmon and to identify juvenile sockeye migration routes. It may be that the strength of the 2010 return was a result of their migration, as smolts, through the Juan de Fuca Strait rather than past fish farms. DFO should also apply the precautionary principle to aquaculture as it has to other fisheries. If the effects of fish farms are unknown, they should be contained or moved onto land until information is available.

I have water front property in Powell River.
In the fall I have been fly fishing for Sea Run Cutthroat trout from the beach for the last ten years. I’d say gradually the fishing has declined. People who have live here longer agree. This year, I caught about 20 trout. 2 of these trout, in the 14 inch range, were heavily infested with sea lice. They had over 1 large mature sealice/inch in my estimation. I can’t remember seeing any more than one or two on a fish before. Unfortunately, because DFO science is so weak in this area, I think you can justify take this annecdotal evidense to be significant.

Where do these rare trout range? Maybe their range makes them particularly suseptible to the lice broadcast from the farms through the Okissolo passage. It is proven that trout stocks in Ireland and Scottland were decimated by sealice from fish farms.

One more thing I wonder about is claims that the 35 m fish that returned this year means that there are no problems from the sealice. Maybe the smolts that produced the 2010 sockeye migrated through Juan de Fuca Straight and were unaffected by sealice?
It makes one wonder what DFO knows about juvenile sockeye migration routes.

Cutting to the chase, DFO science is weak.
If we are going to conserve salmon for the future generations, first nations, bears and eagles we are going to have to invest in more science.

In the meantime, DFO should adopt the precautionary principle to aquaculture as has been applied to other fisheries. So, that means, if it is not known what the effects of the sealice, or the use of slice, or any of their other poor practice, the farms should be moved, contained and moved onto land over 5 years. Profitable and often foreign owned fish farms should be invited to provide at least some funding for DFO. An incentive to invest in science should be given to the fish farm industry by providing warning of what needs to be determined and of the restrictions on fish farming that will be ratched up in a void of the needed information.

Fish farming is an uncontrolled experiment with an upside that does not justify the adverse consequences to our natural heritage.

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