While the negative impact of salmon farms on wild fisheries and coastal communities has become increasingly well known, recent reporting on the international salmon farming describes an industry that has lost its moral compass. The relentless growth of sea lice, viruses and bacteria, causing illegal and excessive drug use and cheating reveals farming salmon in the ocean is not working. Do we let this industry risk our oceans as it dies? Or do we intervene and force it to clean up, get into tanks and invest in its own future? What are our oceans worth? What is best for our children? Many of these articles have been translated online from Norwegian.
Sea lice in Norway - illegal drug use and "cheating"
Norwegian news reports a large Norwegian salmon farming company resorted to illegal use of formalin to kill sea lice even though requests to use formalin had specifically been turned down by the Norwegian medicines agency, NOMA due to health risks for consumers.
"Several sources in the farming industry told VG that many of the companies who are struggling with lice, are so desperate, because lice have become resistant to common drugs and that they therefore try other solutions, even those that are not approved." VG Sept 24, 2015
CEO of Norwegian salmon farming company sentenced to 6 months in jail because he "cheated" on sea lice reporting to the government. This is not the first jail sentence for failure to control sea lice.
"Økokrim [the courts] believed error reporting was systematic over a long time. In 2012 farms on Senja up to 15 times more lice per fish than allowed, but this remained hidden for FSA.
Only once before has a person been sentenced to imprisonment for sea lice. Last year the production manager at Grieg Seafood Finnmark sentenced in the Supreme Court to 60 days' imprisonment, of which 30 days unconditional." Oct. 23, 2015
Company hides ISA virus - sells tainted salmon to China
Two Norwegian salmon farming companies are suspected of failure to notify authorities of ISA virus infection, an internationally reportable virus in the influenza family, and that they sold the tainted fish to China, which has now closed its borders to Norwegian farmed salmon.
"It's a very serious matter when the industry neglects to follow regulations" Oct. 22, 2015
While one company was failing to report ISA virus, an entire region of Norway was being closed down due to the ISA virus.
The media reports the situation is " very serious".
Norwegian fishermen say fish farming is destroying the coast
"If you set nets deep not far from the farms, you get a lot of slimy and smelly in the nets. Set nets in shallower water can get cod that have grazed on stools. These are fish I did not even want to eat, and then I will not fish it for sale, says fisherman Paul Jensen from Troms"
Leader of Norway's fishing organization, Arne Pedersen, says the consequences of large salmon farms are far more severe than anticipated..." Article
Chile recently imposed largest environment fine ever against a salmon farming company
Chile imposed the biggest environmental fine ever against a salmon farms $3.2 million for health and environmental violations - Article
CEO of controlling world's largest salmon farming company gets arrested for corruption
In May, Lunder was appointed head of the Fredriksen Group, which manages John Fredriksen’s interests in his group companies Frontline, Seadrill, Golden Ocean, fish farm company Marine Harvest and other firms. Article
While the arrest was not due to salmon farming activities, this is the corporate culture of the company with controlling interests in a worldwide salmon farming company. This is the same company that I took to court for transfer of diseased fish.
I won, they appealed.
COSTCO rejects Chilean farmed salmon - too much drugs
Persistent bacterial disease problems throughout the Chilean salmon farming industry has made the Chilean salmon farming industry overly drug dependent - Article
The Chilean government acknowledges that it has a problem on its hands.
All the drug use has damaged the reputation of a Norwegian company operating in Chile. The disease they are loosing ground against is Salmonid Rickettsial Septicaemia
This is the same company that owns the farm that the Ahousaht First Nations recently evicted from their territory.
British Columbia is the second biggest antibiotic user
Marine Harvest, Grieg and Cermaq all farm in BC. While they promise to reduce drug use, they don't say how and drug use here is second only to use in Chile.
They report state they only "used antibiotics once disease had been contracted as opposed to a growth supplement or preventative measure." This suggests significant disease is occurring with unknown impact on wild salmon. This clashes with industry reports that their fish are healthy.
Norwegian-run salmon farms in BC exceed lice levels
The black line indicates the allowable number of sea lice in British Columbia, Canada. These high levels coincided with a massive outbreak of sea lice on young wild salmon near these salmon farms. Note: Lice numbers did not go to zero in April, there simply was no data for May.
The Globe and Mail reported April 2015 sea louse outbreak.
"The BC Salmon Farmers Association says the charge is without scientific merit, because there has been no outbreak of lice in farms and when lice are detected, fish are promptly treated with SLICE, a pesticide that is 95 per cent effective."
While they say there was no outbreak on the farms, we can see from their own data that they were indeed over the limit set in British Columbia to protect juvenile wild salmon.
Widespread fraud substituting farmed for wild salmon
Farmed salmon is being sold as wild salmon, which suggests retailers know people prefer wild salmon, and are willing to commit "fraud" to make money.
Norway continues to doubt farmed salmon healthy
Salmon Farmers misuse BC Chef's Association
BC Salmon Farmer's put out a press release on Nov 10 stating"
"Chef Bohan Kovachevich, President of the BC Chef's Association and Corporate Executive Chef in charge of seven hotel restaurants has been cooking with it for 20 years. "They're good quality fish and I use that for all my properties" [Executive Inns]
However, Chef Bohan was not the president of the BC Chef's Association when this press release was issued. In fact he had stepped down in early October just before allowing himself to be photographed touring the Venture Point salmon farm in the Discovery Islands, a region the Cohen Commission recommends be cleared of salmon farms by 2020 unless DFO can prove salmon farms do no harm to wild salmon.
A young wild salmon caught near the Venture Point salmon farm
Foreign salmon farmers profit - wild salmon economy fails
With cheap fresh farmed salmon available year round, canned salmon is no longer profitable for the fishing town of Prince Rupert.
Jobs lost due to salmon farming industry in BC.
Our new Fisheries Minister, The Honourable Hunter Tootoo has received his mandate from Prime Minister Trudeau and while it is very encouraging, if you read the fine print, our new Minister has been instructed to support aquaculture:
Restore funding to support federal ocean science and monitoring programs, to protect the health of fish stocks, to monitor contaminants and pollution in the oceans, and to support responsible and sustainable aquaculture industries on Canada’s coasts.
I don't see "responsible" salmon farming, here in BC or abroad. This industry has deep pockets and far outstrips our ability to lobby and advertise. So if you care to respectfully contact our new minister The Honourable Hunter Tootoo here is his email address: firstname.lastname@example.org
In my view we could mandate salmon feedlots into closed tanks. If the industry doesn't want to invest in their future, well then neither do we and we are not prepared to lose our wild fisheries just so they can continue squeeze out a little more profit on their downward spiral. And then, we could become leaders in restoring wild salmon. More on that soon!
Thank you all for your dedication to our wild salmon. They feed the trees that make the oxygen we breathe, making them an important contributor to Climate stabilization.