Don’t expect salmon stocks to revive after removing fish farms

LETTERS

The opponents of fish farms in the Discovery Islands that expect the return of salmon after the closing of fish farms will be disappointed to see the latest report by the Washington State Recreation of Conservation Office (https://stateofsalmon.wa.gov/) that has warned that some wild salmon populations are “on the brink of extinction” due to a variety of causes, some stocks have recovered but they have nothing to do with fish farming. These include habitat degradation, harvest (fishing), climate change, fish passage barriers, hatcheries, and hydropower and dams.

Fish farming Atlantic salmon was banned in Washington state in 2018 so hard to blame them on the decline. This should be no surprise to people in B.C. as the salmon stocks were in critical decline before fish farms arrived in BC waters (Dr. Peter Pearse, Turning the Tide https://www.biodiversitylibrary.org/item/43227#page/1/mode/1up).

New Policy For Canada’s Pacific Fisheries, Dated 1982 lists the same type of reasons as the Washington state report. About the same time as the Pearce report was completed the first fish farm went into Discovery Islands and they were raising pan size coho.

The fish farm opponents’ false narrative that fish farms are the cause of the decline of wild salmon has deflected from the real reasons and set the stage for extinction of wild salmon, critical time has been wasted blaming fish farms instead of fixing the real problems with salmon habitat.

The fish farm companies and employees now have monumental damage claims for their industry in the hundreds of millions of dollars.

The federal government (the taxpayer) may be liable for some but those individuals and companies that made it their business to go beyond fair comment to shut down fish farms by defaming them may be liable for defamation. The weight of the evidence against them is staggering including nine peer-reviewed studies that cost $40 million. Recent reporting by news media quoting the Cohen commission as saying fish farms must be removed by December 2020 from the Discovery Islands is a good example of fake news. Justice Cohen laid out exactly what was required. That is why the $40 million studies were conducted and that ended in saying there is a minimal risk to the wild salmon and that was the approval farms needed to stay in the Discovery Islands. The Fisheries Minister Bernadette Jordan failed to do her job and report it to the public as required under the Cohen Commission. All the news media had to do is read the report instead they cut and pasted false information from other organizations.

The Uncertain Future of Fraser River Sockeye: In a defamation litigation case against Don Staniford, and the said Don Staniford carrying on business as The Global Alliance Against Industrial Aquaculture the action brought by Creative Salmon and on appeal by Mainstream (now Cermaq) https://www.bccourts.ca/jdb-txt/CA/13/03/2013BCCA0341.htm

The companies were successful and awarded damages for defamation. The damages were substantial but now you have a case where the defamation may have caused business to fail and compensation could be in the hundreds of millions of dollars, not to mention a class action that could be brought by the employees of the companies that have lost their jobs.

For those extremists that have created and or perpetuated the false narrative that fish farms are responsible for the decline of the wild salmon, there may be troubled waters ahead.

Richard Smeal

Campbell River

Campbell RiverFish Farms