Dear Minister Ashfield:
I am writing to ask you to explain why feedlot salmon packers are not required to display fishing license numbers on their boats, like all other commercial vessels moving fish over Canadian waters and to explain why there are no by-catch observers/cameras on salmon feedlot operations.
BC Supreme Court decision Morton vs. Marine Harvest ruled it is the same ocean inside the pens as outside the pens. Thus salmon “farming” became a fishery to be regulated as a fishery.
In this picture taken on February 16, 2012, there is no visible fishing license on the Orca Chief, built in Norway owned by MARINE HARVEST CANADA INC, listed as a PACKER/BAIT/TRANSFER
While described as “packer” the ORCA CHIEF is not listed as a Canadian Fishing Vessel
Please explain why this vessel does not have an “AS” license as it receives salmon from the ocean caught with a seine net, and a “D” license for packing these fish and the associated by-catch.
I spoke to the CEO of Marine Harvest, Ase Michelet, about this in Norway in 2009 unfortunately she was fired and never got back to me, though she did express concern.
I also want you to explain why you require observers and cameras on fishing vessels to measure by-catch, but you don’t apply the same rules for the salmon feedlot fishery. Marine Harvest plead guilty to having wild fish in their boat and pens in Regina vs. Marine Harvest Canada Inc:
“It was known to the company that there was some herring mixed in amongst the Atlantic salmon that they were intending to move from one site to the other. The process generally involves in essence a large pipe from which the salmon and other fish that might be caught there are brought onto the vessel and then ultimately it makes its way to the grow-out site.” (Port Hardy Court Transcript, Jan 18, 2012)
“…the vast majority of the herring simply made their way at that point back out into the ocean so they are returned in essence unharmed” (Port Hardy Court Transcript, Jan 18, 2012)
Frankly speaking sir, I do not believe this. The reports that came to me were that tons of herring were destroyed and disposed of at the SEA SOIL plant in Telegraph Cove. However, what we learned from this testimony by the Department of Justice is that wild herring were sucked out of a Marine Harvest salmon feedlot into a vessel working for Marine Harvest. As the Department of Justice lawyer continues:
“And I should note that the local herring fishery here is closed and has been for sometime due to conservation concerns...” (Port Hardy Court Transcript, Jan 18, 2012)
The testimony continues:
“there had been a previous incident that involved Marine Harvest and ultimately is the count -- or the subject of Counts 1 and 2 in the information. That incident took place at June -- in June of 2009 and it involved a brood stock transfer, so the largest of the Atlantic salmon being taken to the hatchery ultimately for harvesting to repeat the cycle of the Atlantic salmon. In the course of that operation a small number of juvenile pink salmon were entrained with these large Atlantics and ultimately a small number were ultimately recovered dead on the dock in Port McNeill” (Port Hardy Court Transcript, Jan 18, 2012)
With all due respect, the Department of Justice lawyer had no visual evidence to confirm it was “a small number” of wild salmon. I watched this operation. The only pink salmon visible are the ones that spill out of the bucket as it is lifted by the crane. Only Marine Harvest knows how many remained in that bucket, were poured into the tanks on the truck and taken to the hatchery. These juvenile wild salmon were from Knight Inlet, also a stock of concern, protected by recent commercial fishing closures.
This is a situation where only the fox knows how many chickens he has killed and you have not extended this generosity to commercial fishermen. I am writing to request your permission to enter feedlot salmon processing plants this spring to examine the guts removed from feedlot salmon for wild fish. I am writing to ask you to explain why the Orca Chief is moving fish over Canadian marine waters without a fishing license. And I am writing to tell you that to fulfill your responsibility as Minster of the federal agency tasked with protecting Canada’s fisheries you need to place cameras and observers on feedlot salmon packers and pens as the nets are dried up and in the plants as feedlot salmon are processed.
I await your response with several thousand concerned people.