DFO authorizes fish farm cull of sea lions, seals

For the first time ever, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) has posted fish farm reports of mammal killings on its website, and some find the numbers shocking

  • Sep. 20, 2011 5:00 a.m.

For the first time ever, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) has posted fish farm reports of mammal killings on its website, and some find the numbers shocking.

In the first quarterly period from Jan.-March 2011, posted on the website on Aug. 24, DFO issued permits to kill 141 California sea lions, 37 harbour seals, and two Steller sea lions.

Catherine Stewart, with Living Oceans Society, said the numbers worry her.

“The fact that they are acknowledging shooting and killing over 140 of them in just the first quarter alone seems to indicate that the problem is not getting better, it’s getting worse,” said Stewart of the California sea lions. “What is the number going to be for the entire year? Why is it so high?”

B.C. Salmon Farmers Association executive director Mary Ellen Walling said California sea lion populations are on the rise around Vancouver Island, creating more interaction between the mammals and farms. She said lethal control is used as a “last resort,” and pointed out that the animals can be dangerous to humans as well as the farms themselves.

“They can be a threat to the farm structures obviously – they can rip into the nets, they can potentially cause escapes – but also they can be quite aggressive towards humans,” said Walling.

DFO issues the permits to kill California sea lions and harbour seals because the populations are considered stable, according to DFO communications advisor Michelle Imbeau.

However, Steller sea lions are listed under the federal Species at Risk Act, but can be killed when the farm makes a special request to DFO. Steller sea lion lethal control permits are considered on a case by case basis.

While Stewart acknowledged California sea lion and harbour seal populations are stable right now, she pointed out that the basking shark population used to be stable in B.C. but the fish are now endangered because commercial fishers were allowed to kill them when they got caught in their nets.

“It would seem that the populations are healthy, but I think we only have to look at our history as a species to see what happens when we think animals are abundant,” said Stewart.

Walling said that farms near Tofino had an increase in killings about five years ago when the mammal populations in the area rose; predator barriers around the farms were strengthened in response, and the amount of problems, and kills, decreased.

According to Walling, farms on East Vancouver Island are now working to do the same.

“We’re expecting the numbers to decline as we go forward,” said Walling.

DFO will continue posting the quarterly reports, with the second one coming sometime this fall, according to Imbeau. DFO will also post summary information of mammal deaths from past years “in the coming months,” and is taking steps to monitor farms and work with the industry to decrease the number of kills.

“DFO staff will also be visiting farm sites prior to and during the peak marine mammal season to specifically inspect the marine mammal mitigation methods in use,” said Imbeau.

“A working group comprised of DFO staff and industry representatives has recently been established with a goal of reducing the level of marine mammal interactions at aquaculture facilities.”

Stewart said she doesn’t doubt the numbers will go down, but added that the killing of these marine mammals adds to a long list of reasons – including the controversial possibility of the wild salmon decline – that this type of fish farming should stop.

“It’s just another indication that net cage technology is not sustainable, and they need to accept that and start planning to transition to closed systems where they won’t have these kind of problems.”

 

 

 

Just Posted

Campbell River Fire Department douses truck fire on Inland Island Highway

A driver pulled over when the engine in his truck started smoking… Continue reading

High-speed internet connectivity for coastal communities one step closer to reality

Sub-sea fibre-optic cable will circle Vancouver Island and connect the North Coast to Vancouver

The Campbell River Festival of Films announces winter season line up

The Campbell River Festival of Films (CRFF) has unveiled its 2018 Winter… Continue reading

VIDEO: Orcas put on a show near Hornby Island

Louis Jobodin shares photos and video of his experience

‘Heavy-handed’ Campbell River bylaw amendment to get ‘tweaks’ before being passed

City looks to control invasives and noxious weeds by holding property owners accountable

B.C. cougar kitten rescued after mother struck by vehicle

Conservation Officers find home for young kitten found dehydrated and frostbitten near Williams Lake

Toronto man charged in double homicide

A 66-year-old man is charged with first-degree murder in disappearance of two Toronto men

Comox cannabis lab takes step forward towards reality

A former Comox Valley resident and current adjunct botany professor at UBC… Continue reading

Carpet bowlers have been excluded from BC 55+ Games and Canada 55+ Games

Gold medal carpet bowling winners not able to defend their titles in 2018

No crackdown, just education as BC Ferries enacts smoking ban

Fines and extra patrols not happening at this time as ban begins Monday

UPDATE: Police launch website for unsolved murder of 13-year old B.C. girl

IHIT say no one has been arrested or charged in connection with Marrisa Shen’s death

Rural B.C. students score visit with Canadiens netminder Carey Price

Two students from the Caiboo Chilcotin can hardly wait to meet hometown hero Carey Price in Montreal.

VIDEO: Elk parade on Vancouver Island is awesome sight

They’re out in force for a morning stroll. Check out some of Youbou’s famous elk.

North Delta’s Colton Hasebe named BC Children’s Hospital Foundation’s 2018 Champion Child

Colton takes the reins from 2107 Champion Child and Tsawwassen resident Taylin McGill

Most Read