Bleak Picture for the Salmon of the World
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.
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