Marine Debris

Salmon farm debris on Hurst Island. Photo: Will Soltau

Many people are familiar with the kind of under-farm waste where ocean currents carry the waste feed and fish feces from open net cage salmon farms into the marine environment. This kind of organic waste ends up on the ocean floor smothering and polluting the benthic environment and remains largely out of sight.

But there is another kind of fish farm waste that often lingers for years in our ocean environment: marine debris.

Due to storms on the oceans, accidents, human error or carelessness, fish farming equipment is often lost or abandoned. Un-recovered equipment like cables, chains and anchors remain on the bottom and can become a hazard to other mariners who may be traveling or anchoring near farm sites.

Floating equipment is often anchored unlit at night, making it difficult to navigate safely. Other floating debris (or flotsam) is carried away by winds and currents on the surface and eventually ends up littering beaches.

Residents, beachcombers and visitors often encounter fish farm flotsam. They will collect and return or dispose of it so that it doesn’t become a danger to humans or marine life.

The BC Salmon Farmers Code of Practice states, “Industry will not discharge any inorganic waste material (such as garbage, used nets, and equipment) directly into the natural environment.”

As good corporate citizens, salmon farmers, (not local residents and tourists) should bear the responsibility for cleaning up their own marine debris.

What You Can Do

Record and report! CAAR’s Coast Mobilization Team is always interested in photos, video, or reports of marine debris so that we can urge the salmon farmers to clean it up. Please note the time, date, and exact location of debris sightings and take pictures if possible.