54 local, provincial and national organizations call for immediate closure of salmon farms along wild salmon migration route

For Immediate Release
September 6, 2011

Evidence emerging at Cohen Inquiry reaffirms urgent need to protect wild salmon from salmon farm diseases and sea lice

VANCOUVER, BC – The Wild Salmon Narrows Declaration, signed by 54 local, provincial and national organizations is calling for the removal of open net-cage salmon farms from the Wild Salmon Narrows (WSN) in the northern Georgia Strait. Today, the Georgia Strait Alliance (GSA), a member of the Coastal Alliance for Aquaculture Reform (CAAR), is delivering the signed declaration to Fisheries and Oceans Minister Keith Ashfield. BC residents have also signed thousands of post cards calling for the eviction of these farms. This demonstration of support for the immediate closure of the nine fish farm tenures in the WSN coupled with information emerging throughout the disease and aquaculture hearings at the Cohen Inquiry into the Decline of Fraser River Sockeye reaffirms the need for immediate action on the part of the federal government.

The WSN migration route, located along Okisollo and Hoskyn Channels, is a gauntlet of nine salmon farm tenures (six currently active), which threaten migrating Fraser River sockeye as well as other populations of salmon from BC and US salmon streams. In response to the 2009 Fraser River sockeye crash, a Simon Fraser University think tank of scientists recommended that net-cage farms be removed on an experimental basis from Fraser sockeye migration routes in the Discovery Islands region.

Modeling of the spread of pathogens in the WSN, entered into evidence at the Inquiry, shows that a single farm with a disease outbreak at peak could make it difficult for juvenile salmon to migrate through this particular route without coming into contact with pathogens emitted from diseased farmed fish. The modeling showed that a salmon farm with a disease outbreak could release 60 billion viral particles an hour. Testimony at the Cohen Inquiry by Dr. Josh Korman of Ecometric Research Inc. also revealed that salmon farms suffer, on average, 30 high-risk fish health incidences per year among the approximately 60 to 80 farms active at any given time.

“Such frequent high-risk disease outbreaks on open net-cage salmon farms pose an unacceptable threat to wild salmon,” says Michelle Young, Salmon Aquaculture Campaigner for GSA. “We must immediately enact emergency measures to protect Fraser River sockeye and all wild salmon from salmon farm diseases, and to clear the Wild Salmon Narrows of open net-cages.”

The risk of disease infection from salmon farms that has come to light in recent testimony at the Cohen Inquiry; the overwhelming weight of scientific evidence showing net-cage salmon farming’s negative impacts on wild salmon; and the strong support of the public in British Columbia and beyond compels immediate action. We must remove all six active salmon farms in the Wild Salmon Narrows, cancel the remaining three inactive tenures in the area and quickly phase out harmful net-cage technology. The Coastal Alliance for Aquaculture Reform supports a transition to closed containment technology for salmon aquaculture.

Read the Wild Salmon Narrows Declaration signed by 54 organizations.

Take a virtual tour of the Wild Salmon Narrows and learn more about the salmon farms and the ecological values of the region that are threatened by harmful open net-cage operations.

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For more information, please contact:

Michelle Young, Georgia Strait Alliance, group member of the Coastal Alliance for Aquaculture Reform
Phone/Text: 250-667-4568 | Email: michelle@georgiastrait.org

David Fields, Georgia Strait Alliance, group member of the Coastal Alliance for Aquaculture Reform
Phone/Text: 604-722-4775 | Email: david@georgiastrait.org