Ray Grigg

Grigg: All is not well

All is not well with salmon farming. The industry presents a front of confidence and optimism but behind the public relations image is a reality of threat and fear.

The situation in Norway, the country from which the industry spread to Scotland, Chile and Canada’s East and West Coasts, is an indicator of the direction the industry is heading.

In Norwegian salmon farms, viral diseases are proliferating and it’s been reported that sea lice are developing resistance to the pesticide of choice, emamectin benzoate (aka SLICE). With increasing frequency, sea lice-infected farmed salmon must now be bathed in a hydrogen peroxide solution to cleanse them of the parasite.

This is also becoming the practice in Chile, Nova Scotia and B.C. Once allowed for use in Canada only through the Emergency Drug Release Program as a treatment of last resort, SLICE became a routinely applied chemical in June 2009. It is now becoming ineffective.

Although escaped farmed Atlantic salmon do not seem to be a major problem in B.C. where they are not native, in Norway and Canada’s Maritimes their damage to the native Atlantics may be serious and irreversible.

The Norwegian Institute for Nature Research recently tested 20,000 Atlantics in 147 Norwegian rivers and found that, in 109 of these rivers, up to 50 per cent of the wild fish and up to 42.2 per cent of their genes were altered by interbreeding, a genetic contamination that could impair the viability of the wild fish. This would be a serious threat to wild Atlantics in Canada’s Maritimes.

In Chile, which does not have native salmon, about 20 per cent of farmed fish are once again dying from an outbreak of the infectious salmon anemia virus (ISAv), the disease that spread throughout its industry between 2007 and 2009, killing millions of salmon, costing the industry $2 billion, and shocking Chile’s economic and social structure. Heavy antibiotic use is now promoting drug resistant super-viruses.

The latest disaster for Chilean salmon farms has been a toxic algal bloom. The “red tide” has poisoned about 2,000 kilometres of coast, killed uncounted tonnes of wild fish, contaminated shellfish, and been fatal to both people and marine mammals.

The environmental catastrophe has stimulated riots and allegations of criminal wrongdoing. Chilean biologists are implicating the salmon farming industry in the spread of the bloom because the supply of fecal nutrients beneath the many open net-pens promotes algal growth, and because more nutrients were added when about half of the estimated 100,000 tonnes of dead salmon were left to rot in the sea.

An additional 150 million farmed salmon are now at risk from further algal blooms, the recurring ISA virus and the ongoing sea-lice epidemic.

Meanwhile, in British Columbia, tonnes of farmed salmon in Clayoquot Sound and other facilities have died from toxic algal blooms and low oxygen conditions. Uncontrollable sea-lice infections are requiring hydrogen peroxide baths, piscine reovirus is now epidemic in farmed fish, heart and skeletal muscle inflammation has been found, ISAv and many other viruses threaten, First Nations are issuing eviction notices to the industry for trespass in their unceded territories, and scientists — the evidence suggests — are getting closer to linking salmon farms with transferring viral infections to wild salmon.

 

Just Posted

UPDATE: Two ATVers dead after trying to cross creek south of Campbell River

Search involved search and rescue, the coast guard and 442 Squadron from CFB Comox

UPDATE: Tsunami warning cancelled for coastal British Columbia

Warning issued following 7.9 earthquake off Kodiak, AK

Tsunami warning issued for Coastal B.C.

It is recommended that individuals residing below 20 metres should move to higher ground.

Rising water levels prompt BC Hydro to increase water discharge down the Campbell River

The Upper Campbell Reservoir/Buttle Lake water level has steadily increased over the… Continue reading

Testing the Google Arts & Culture app

Going face to face with art

VIDEO: Fuel truck and train collide in B.C. causing massive fire

More emergency crews are still arriving on scene of a massive fire at the Port Coquitlam rail yard.

Back to work: U.S. government shutdown ends after Democrats relent

Short-term spending measure means both sides could see another shutdown stalemate in three weeks

Man lives despite malfunctioning defibrillator at B.C. arena

A middle-aged man went into cardiac arrest after at game at Pitt Meadows Arena last Wednesday.

Cause of Northern B.C. seaplane crash released

TSB releases report on seaplane crash during a water landing in 2016 near First Nations community

Vancouver police crack down on pop-up pot vendors

Officers raided merchants’ tables on Robson Square late Sunday

Bell Media, NFL take appeal over Super Bowl ad rules to top court

At issue is a ban on substituting American ads with Canadian ones during the game’s broadcast

Crown seeks 4.5 years jail for B.C. woman convicted of counselling tax evasion

Debbie Anderson the latest from group to face jail for teaching debunked ‘natural person’ theory

Most Read