Fish farms slammed - Conservation groups lash out

Wild salmon advocates on both coasts targeted aquaculture operations yesterday, calling for major changes within the farmed-salmon industry.

The New Brunswick-based Atlantic Salmon Federation said it and 32 other conservation groups in six countries want open-net salmon operations moved 30 kilometres away from the mouths of wild salmon rivers.

The ASF said wild salmon returns in 32 rivers flowing into the Bay of Fundy have declined from 40,000 in the 1980s to fewer than 100 today. The group blamed salmon farms for the decline.

“There is a comprehensive body of research proving negative impacts of salmon farming on wild salmon, including parasites, disease and weakening of the wild gene pool when farmed salmon escape and interbreed,” the ASF said.

At the same time, from the West Coast 18 prominent scientists—including David Suzuki, Wade Davis, of the National Geographic Society and Boris Worm, a biologist at Halifax’s Dalhousie University—wrote to Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Premier Gordon Campbell warning that B.C. wild salmon populations would decline if farmed salmon isn’t “quarantined.”

The attack on aquaculture followed comments a major shareholder in a salmon-farming operation made to a Norwegian newspaper. John Fredriksen, a shareholder in Marine Harvest—a global aquaculture company with Canadian operations—told Altaposten that he was concerned about the future of wild salmon and that salmon farming should not be allowed in fjords with salmon rivers.

Bill Taylor, president of the ASF, said Fredriksen supports what the ASF has said for a decade: “There should not be a high concentration of aquaculture cages around the mouths of salmon rivers.”

Taylor said if open-net cages are removed from proximity to salmon rivers that would prevent wild salmon from catching diseases or sea lice.

The New Brunswick Salmon Growers Association said that “the science does not support that there is a problem.”

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