Bleak Picture for the Salmon of the World [Archive] - Fly Fishing Forum

: Bleak Picture for the Salmon of the World

02-14-2001, 09:42 PM
Just watched a very interesting program about the plight of atlantic and pacific salmon and the threat fish farms pose to their survival. The program in question is Nature of Things with David Suzuki which aired on CBC tonight. This particular program is a CBC/BBC collaboration and Suzuki abstained from producing the segment to provide a less biased view of the situation.

Before I give you an overview, I will offer my recording of the program to anyone who missed it and is interested in watching it. The only caveat is that you pass it along to some other interested Forum member when finished with it. One copy to go to the first one who asks for it...

In a nutshell, wild stocks of salmon are being threatened from a number of different sources.

Fish farms are flourishing and threatening salmon on both coasts of north america as well as Europe by transmitting disease, interbreeding with wild fish, polluting vast salty areas, and competing with wild fish.

Additionally, farmed salmon might also present a health threat to humans. Heavily contaminated feed for salmon has been confirmed in some farms in Europe.
PCBs, organichlorid pesticides and other contaminants are absorbed readily by farmed fish through their regular feed. PCBs cause neurotoxins, and aide in the development of various types of cancers. High levels of PCBs and dioxins have been measured in farmed salmon in the U.K.

Finally, large deposits of feces and other contaminants from fish farms also produce pollutants creating an area too rich in nutrients which discharges ammonia and other gases like methane.

As of this date there is no data and no checking regarding possible toxin levels in farmed fish, and therefore there's no advising against consumption of farmed salmon according to Health Canada.

Health Canada does not seem that interested in what's happening elsewhere, only interested in food in Canada. Critics say the agency relies too much on the salmon farming industry for their information. The Feds are not monitoring or producing risk assessment studies, unless adviced of specific incidents.

A possible solution for the farming problem would be to bring farming practices in-shore but this would eliminate their profitability unless all were forced to do likewise.

Why are salmon dying at sea? Some reserachers feel increasingly large concentrations of sea lice are killing salmon at sea. That could be the reason why so many smolts go to sea and so few return as salmon to their native rivers.

In the east coast of Vancouver island, farmed atlantic salmon escapees are becoming the norm in commercial fishermen nets. This is pretty scary because that means that they're escaping in great numbers, reproducing successfully, and thriving as adults and competing for habitat and food against the native species Pacific salmon.

A further correlation of the impact of salmon farming can be seen in the decline of wild salmon fisheries in western Scotland where salmon fish farming has proliferated.

Finally, the view from some farmers is that they're already being regulated to death. However, critics say there are guidelines but no real regulations in the farming industry.

02-14-2001, 10:13 PM
Luis -

As you know I have been passionate about this topic for a decade now. Please mail me the video and I will promptly pass it on to the next person who posts their interest in viewing it.

Did they mention a phone number and episode # to purchase the tape?



02-14-2001, 11:38 PM
Being a resident of the Puget Sound area, salmon farming has become a very big issue of late, mainly due to the problems of escapees.

My opinion is that we need to heavily study salmon farms and their effects on native fishes and the enviroment. I believe that we can minimize their effects so that someday commercial salmon fishing may become obsolete and in turn native anadramous salmonids will benefit.

02-15-2001, 12:24 AM
One small step we can all take is to join the ASF or similar organization. My friend Ally Gowans (of Ally's Shrimp fame)from Scotland has written in the ASF journal and other publications about this very topic, it is worth a look and a few $$, even if you are not into f/fishing for Atlantics.

PS it was a good, not great, show it missed the punch line that Dr. Suzuki would naturally put into it! Little mention of "cumulative environmental impact" since very few if any such studies have been done. AKA "collateral damage" for the military minded, unintentional but just as devastating to other species, not just the other salmonids...
The small gains made and the increased returns of East Coast slamons due to various Canada & the US and several other European nations (interesting that the UK opted out! I think) "buying out" the commercial nets are being decimated by salmon farms and their collateral damage. If you want to get a copy of Ally's article, I'm sure he will send one out to you, probably with a few additional comments. Contact him at his Email listed below and chack out his web site as well.

02-15-2001, 08:31 AM
Ok Juro:
send me your snail mail address again please. I'll mail it to you probably early next week (swamped with work these days). FrenchCreek is right... join the ASF... they do great work. I've been a member for a few years now.
Maybe someone can check the CBC site to see about buying that segment. Pete, I agree with you, but there's only so much they can pack into a 60 minute show. Every single issue they discussed raised bright red flags, however, and I think they successfully showed the risks inherent in fish farming.

02-15-2001, 09:19 AM
I totally agree and have have strong opinions on fish farming.

The effluent from a typical operation is equivalent to a population of 40,000 humans (because it is direct and untreated waste).

Tens of thousands escape each year from unregulated operations - the cages are easily damaged in storms in the atlantic and ripped open by sea lions on the pacific coast where the atlantics do not even belong.

People on the atlantic coast are just as vehement about the problem, insisting that these are not the atlantics they know and love. In fact they are not, no more than a milk cow is a wild buffalo. Their appearance in the rivers of the north atlantic is no more welcome than in the pacific northwest.

The reason these fish are used lies in economics. The rapidly evolving salmonid has been in a breeding refinement progression for 30 years and to choose another species is to spend more money while the fish die in unnatural conditions. They are hatched, converted to salt in one day using chemicals, fed pellets so their meat is articificially colored and flavored, and raised in a cage instead of roaming thousands of miles as pelagic travelers.

I am not saying we should not farm them, I am saying we should only do it if it's done right. No escapement, damage resistant pens, move the pens constantly in well-flushed current areas, etc.

IMHO more regulations are sorely needed.

02-15-2001, 01:27 PM
Yeah, well, who you gonna root for? Fish farms pollute. Not just salmon farms, shrimp farms are heavy polluters as well.

But ocean intercept fishing can destroy entire stocks of wild salmon forever, and trawling for shrimp can have a 20:1 bycatch ratio.

Unless we all turn into Linda McCartneys and stop eating flesh there are going to be harmful byproducts from our meat-eating activities. I'd rather focus on cleaning up the farms than demonizing them, as the alternative is the continued unsustainable rape of the wild ocean.

02-15-2001, 02:21 PM
I read thru the thread and the overwhelming interest of the people who posted *is* to improve farming practices.

That doesn't mean some degree of demonization isn't appropriate or necessary - I would venture to guess that historically we (mankind) have "cleaned up" errant man-made situations much more effectively when demonized than when not.

I don't think "cleaning up" and "demonization" are mutually exclusive, in fact I read this thread as consistently suggesting "cleanup" of aquaculture practices with a little "tasteful denouncement" blended in



02-19-2001, 08:15 AM
Tape's on its way. Should take a week or so.

John Desjardins
02-23-2001, 09:10 AM
I just saw this article in todays <!--http--><a href="" target="_blank">Boston Globe </a><!--url--> that illustrates many of the aqua culture problems discussed here.