Dear Minister Shea:
Thank you clarifying your position on escaped Atlantic salmon in the Pacific. As I understand it, you are saying that you don’t think penned farmed Atlantic salmon eat wild fish, or will survive in the wild and therefore you are not concerned that Marine Harvest did not contact your department to use a vessel that was on site and could have recaptured the 40,000 Atlantic salmon that escaped in Knight Inlet in October 2009.
While you cite a DFO study on predation, you do not cite the paper Dr. Volpe and I published Download Morton and Volpe wherein I had the unique opportunity to examine 775 Atlantic salmon stomachs during their first three weeks of freedom. What I found was zero had wild food in them on the first week and 24.4% had wild food in them by week three.
If you want to know if farm salmon eat wild fish, you will need to sample sites such as Sir Edmund, during the arrival of the Kingcome Inlet herring, Port Elizabeth during the Oolichan migrations, Glacier Falls as the Ahta River pink fry are schooling around the pens, Whelis Bay during the Embly River salmon out-migrations, Potts Bay when the pens are teaming with wild salmon fry, Sargeaunt Pass as the Chinook smolts school there. The sites chosen in the DFO study, Larson and Deep Harbour, are off the major migration routes. If you truly want to know if the schools of 700,000 fish predators with large teeth (Atlantic salmon) are consuming wild prey you will need to go to where the wild fish and the farm fish are coming into contact due to very poor siting which placed many fish farms in highly productive waters. There are many fish farms in Provincial “red zones” where the Province told the public there would be no fish farms. The reason they were made into red zones was local fishermen told the Province this is where the wild fish are. Why did the fish farmers then put their farms in exactly those locations?
Minster Shea, we all know we are at a critical junction in survival of life in the oceans. One of THE greatest causes of loss of species around the world is introduction of exotic species. A survey of 31 studies on fish introductions in Europe, North America, Australia, and New Zealand found 77% of introductions resulted in native fish population declines and half of these were due to the introduction of a non-native salmon species (Ross and Brenneman 1991).
If you are going gamble Canada’s wild fish against these odds you must cite a range of papers, not just the one that fits policy. Furthermore, I know some of the scientists on the paper you cited and I am certain that if you asked them to find out if farm salmon are eating herring (for example) they would not pick Larsen and Deep Harbour in May – July. Who picked the sites in the DFO study? I have personally seen Atlantic salmon chasing salmon fry in the Potts Bay farm and I saw one take a herring at the Midsummer Island site, and I have been allowed very little time on a fish farm!
The tone and content of your letter appears in support of Marine Harvest not contacting your department to recapture their 40,000 fish that escaped through a hole made by the sheer weight of dying pen-mates. As I understand it your department issued Marine Harvest several ZZA fishing licences to the company, not to specific boats so that they could take fast and appropriate action to recapture their fish. In this case 40,000 fish escape from a mass mortality event and, by the sounds of it, Marine Harvest just let them swim away even though they could have (legally and physically) recaptured them. And by the way, one of these fish showed up 2 days later with a wild salmon smolt in its stomach, near the town of Sointula.
Minister Shea are you going to charge Marine Harvest for what appears to be a failure to recapture these fish or will you continue to argue that such escapes pose no threat?
I await your answer.
On 12/30/09 7:57 AM, "XNCR, Min"
> Ms. Alexandra Morton
> < firstname.lastname@example.org >
> Dear Ms. Morton:
> Thank you for your correspondence of October 26 and 28, 2009, regarding
> escaped Atlantic salmon in the Port Elizabeth area. I regret the delay in
> Marine Harvest reported the escape to Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) staff
> on October 22, 2009. The Department did not receive a request from Marine
> Harvest to use an on-site seine boat to recapture the escaped salmon.
> Preventing the escape of farmed fish is largely managed through provincial
> regulations with support from DFO, especially through scientific research. As
> well, aquaculture operators make escape prevention a priority as escaped farm
> fish can be a significant economic loss to the individual fish farm operator.
> Our website on escape prevention outlines the measures taken to reduce escapes
> and is available at <
> http://www.dfo-mpo.gc.ca/aquaculture/science/escape-evasions-eng.htm >.
> The Department has monitored the impact of farmed Atlantic salmon on native
> stocks since 1991. Our research shows that farm-raised Atlantic salmon adapt
> poorly to feeding in the natural environment and have shown no detrimental
> effects on Pacific salmon. In addition, worldwide, Atlantic salmon have not
> been shown to be successful at establishing populations outside their endemic
> range even when purposely transplanted.
> DFO Science Branch has researched the predation of farmed salmon on wild
> organisms. From the data collected, the Department concluded that farmed
> salmon consumed very few wild organisms. The main wild organisms consumed
> were small crustaceans that are part of the "fouling" community that grows on
> the webbing of nets on the cages where the fish are held. This study may be
> found online at < http://www.dfo-mpo.gc.ca/Library/280366.pdf >.
> In response to your assertion that DFO is not tracking the numbers of escaped
> Atlantic salmon, fish escape information must be reported to the British
> Columbia Ministry of Agriculture and Lands (BCMAL) as an aquaculture licensing
> requirement. BCMAL keeps a record of all escapes and regularly shares that
> information with DFO. Catches of Atlantic salmon in commercial fisheries are
> recorded in the Fishery Operating System database; this reporting is
> Finally, I would like to address your concern over reports with problems
> fishers have had with DFO's Atlantic Salmon Watch program. The Department
> endeavours to respond in a timely fashion to all fishers who report catching
> Atlantic salmon; however, it is acknowledged that not all callers receive a
> response. DFO is working on a database associated with the management of the
> aquaculture industry. Escape incidents and recaptures will be recorded in the
> database, as will information pertaining to Atlantic salmon caught by
> commercial and recreational fishers.
> Thank you for taking the time to share your concerns with me.
> Origianl signed by
> Gail Shea, P.C., M.P.
> Ministerial Correspondence Control Unit
> Unité de contrôle de la correspondance ministérielle
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