Link to: Map
| Salmon Farming Briefing to All BC MLAs, March 18, 2003
2007 UPDATES: Spring
2003 UPDATES: September
| March 8
| February 6
| January 24 | Letters
to Dale Evans, Stolt | January 10
Farm Locations in the Broughton Archipelago
3 | November 11 | November 19 |
SCIENTISTS ON SEA LICE: Letter to Stephen Campbell & Gordon Campbell
September 17, 2007
18 Leading Canadian Scientists Call for Closed Containment Salmon Farming to Protect Wild Stocks
View Letter (554 KB PDF)
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Salmon farming still harming wild juvenile salmon
News from the Broughton Archipelago this spring is not encouraging. The sea lice situation remains serious despite government and industry’s assurances that they have the problem handled. This is not surprising because government continues to refuse to do more than just monitor the situation.
Last fall’s severe drought delayed the adult salmon migration upriver to spawn and so this spring’s generation emerged about a month later than usual. Today they remain tiny – only about 45mm. Because their instinct is to swim away from freshwater, towards higher salinity, the fast-melting snow-pack is chasing them down the inlets, into contact with the farms, at too rapid rate.
I have examined and released more than 9,000 salmon fry this spring. I am now director of the Salmon Coast Field Station in the Broughton Archipelago, home to four other sea lice research projects with more than 30 researchers from three Universities and in addition to my own work, I am a member of the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans sea lice research team.
Martin Krkosek, from the Centre for Mathematical Biology at the University of Alberta working in the Broughton finds, “Salmon farms can reduce their lice with the drugs, but after the wild juvenile salmon have passed several farms the effect is cumulative. We are seeing 80% of these fish infected at the end of some migration routes right now.” Krkosek and I have both authored peer-reviewed studies demonstrating that these infection rates kill pink and chum salmon fry.
While rumor has it most of the farmers are using Slice, a delousing chemical, and this has likely lowered the number of lice per farm salmon, there are just too many farms. This season started with low sea lice numbers as the young wild salmon reached the first farms and we thought the lice had been suppressed to a sub-lethal level. However over the last week we’ve been watching the condition of the fish decline rapidly, they look terrible.
The biology remains simple; nature very carefully separates the old salmon from the young salmon. Adult salmon die in the fall and young salmon don’t go to sea until spring. If we want wild salmon this natural law will have to be obeyed and the huge industrial farms moved away from our rivers. They were sited in a time of ignorance but now we know that wild and farmed salmon don’t mix. Would anyone site a chicken farm among wild birds? No, it spreads disease. This is exactly the same situation.”
People don’t recognize the enormity of what they are losing, pink salmon are an unrecognized powerhouse to the BC economy. As the most abundant salmon, they fertilize our forests; supporting the logging industry and they feed tourisms’ prized Chinook and Coho smolts as they enter the ocean.
The sea lice problem is not confined to the Broughton. We are working from Campbell River to Port Hardy and the story is simple: where there are salmon farms there is a sea lice problem. Scottish researchers have told me.” A five year old could figure this out”. It has become apparent that Canadian government scientists are not free to speak their minds -- similar to when the Atlantic cod stocks was being destroyed and the Kemano Completion project threatened wild salmon. They know how serious this situation is, but are immobilized.
Salmon farms can be moved and contained, but wild salmon cannot. We are playing out Joni Mitchell’s song, ‘you don’t know what you’ve got ‘til it’s gone.’ We are loosing wild salmon as I speak; my fear is there will continue to be only lip service to this issue and to the Special Committee’s recommendations. There are solutions we can have both wild and farmed salmon. But even as the weight of scientific evidence and public distrust builds steadily against this industry, the fish farms remain in the water conducting business as usual. Nothing has been done to actually benefit our wild salmon and they are going down.
version (306 KB)
those of you new to this list I am writing because events on this small piece
of coast I inhabit are symptomatic of our era. Ecosystems are being systematically
dismantled while the urban population is skillfully misinformed. Corporate behemoths
are selling off the energy-rich sparks that give life to our planet. As the living
world dies around us it is no time to feel powerless. Nature always has an ace
in the hole and I suspect we are it for this salmon coast. We are a force of nature's
own making that could bring life back to us. So I ask you to bear witness with
salmon producers significantly reduced sea lice leaking from their Broughton pens
this spring by drugging their fish. But it became apparent even a few sea lice
on millions of industrial salmon are a problem. We watched the young wild Knight
Inlet pink salmon flood into Tribune Channel and stall for weeks around a cluster
of industrial farm sites. As a result, the wild salmon were slowly infected with
sea lice and just as long strings of louse eggs ripened on them these salmon headed
west bearing a plague. Lice bloomed around them and they infected the remnant
runs of Ahta, Wakeman and Kingcome Rivers. It became grimly clear drugs are not
going to make the difference between life and death for our wild salmon. Places
where young wild salmon congregate are dangerous places to site industrial salmon.
the Norwegian government proposed their national salmon rivers receive unequivocal
protection and are removing fish farms from fjords and coastal areas near these
rivers. Most of the companies raising industrial salmon in BC are from Norway.
Our governments are allowing the exact same damage by the same companies that
Norway is trying to recover from.
fall many BC wild salmon populations are suffering the collision of natural and
unnatural disasters: drought and the plague of industrial lice. Our rivers became
skeletal, drying pools. Wild salmon eggs became stranded and died. Miraculously
wild salmon are built to take this. Their natural genetic variability ensures
a paper I co-authored (Krkosek et al PNAS 2006) makes it clear Broughton's wild
salmon are no longer playing with a full genetic deck. When sea lice eat 91% of
a salmon population, the genetic variability salmon require to survive is eliminated.
Broughton salmon will hatch in March, a trickle will enter seawater and there,
sea lice from salmon farms will kill some percentage of them. The number of wild
salmon that survive everywhere there are salmon farms on this coast depends on
same Norwegian corporations that are competing on the market with wild BC salmon.
accuse me of crying wolf. I can only say that I am here. I am watching our wild
salmon, following them, counting them, touching them, measuring their success
and failure. Is it any surprise that I am going to be among the first to see them
falter? If industrial salmon are not a problem why did the Norwegian government
move them away from important young wild salmon?
BC salmon have become industrial aquaculture by-catch. No one, corporate or otherwise,
is allowed 91% by-catch of a wild salmon population. Even as special prosecutor
William Smart denied my charges against Heritage Salmon for release of sea lice
he agreed prosecution would be in the public's interest and that sea lice from
salmon farms appear to be killing our wild salmon. This is a significant legal
There are technical solutions to this juggernaut; we could have both wild and
industrial salmon. We could build closed containment facilities in coastal communities
creating permanent jobs. Market those fish only in winter, keeping both wild and
industrial salmon prices high. Use the state-of-the-art farm salmon processing
plants to value-add many wild BC fish such as shrimp, urchins, pink salmon etc.
Use the legion of men and women now trained in salmon husbandry to reestablish
wild salmon habitat. B.C. would prosper from the far greater diversity of wild
and industrial salmon. By the 2010 Olympics B.C. could be a world leader in wild
and sustainable industrial salmon.
should not have to go to court or plead with government to preserve our fish.
Fisheries and Oceans Canada is already mandated to preserve our wild fish. Legally
and constitutionally government should terminate any license that results in the
killing of wild salmon. There is a long history of DFO canceling commercial fishing
and other licenses in the past, and DFO has the legal authority to do so now.
It's not a matter of can't, it's a matter of won't. But if anyone suggests removing
a farm to rescue one wild salmon population government insists we pick a new site.sacrificing
another wild fish population, as if cleaning up this industry is somehow not an
option. I desperately want to save Broughton, but not at expense of anyone else's
we made progress? On October 18, 2006 Minister Pat Bell (MAL) wrote a letter to
John Cummins (MP) arguing, "the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, the agency
responsible for managing wild fisheries, has found no evidence that salmon populations
are being adversely affected by sea lice." This is not correct, Fisheries
and Oceans has freezers full of evidence. Canadian universities are publishing
every few months on the enormous impact of industrial salmon on wild salmon. Research
defining impact out weighs the neutral papers 17 to 1. DFO is shamefully behind.
Why would Bell wait for the one horse that will never come out of the gate? Consistent
with a long list of leaders before him, no one is ever willing to inconvenience
this industry, even though it is clearly killing off wild salmon across the Northern
Hemisphere. I believe this is because powerful lobbies want to claim BC's wild
rivers, harness them, sell the energy and water and wild salmon are in the way.
If BC were to accept industrial salmon as the only salmon, many large corporations
would benefit. Already three hydro projects are proposed for Knight Inlet rivers.
black eyes are looking up towards the belly of Broughton's rivers as I write.
Once as numerous as the pebbles these pink translucent orbs of life are the first
pulse of another cycle of life and prosperity. They are few but they are strong,
the best of millions and millions, a 10,000-year steady heartbeat. In a few months
they will be swept into marine waterways used to flush effluent from industrial
marine feedlots.essentially sewer pipes. Whether these last wild salmon survivors
live or die depends on the whim of Norwegian corporations with no interests in
wild BC salmon and whose product competes on the market with wild BC salmon.
suggest you demand Safe Passage for wild salmon.
corporate salmon feedlots behind closed doors immediately, where the only fish
they kill are their own. Our children and their children need us to recognize
that we are a powerful force of nature and essential to the continuance of wild
The 2005 Broughton LICE-CAPADES
those new to this list, from time to time, I feel it is important to share what
is happening to the Pacific Wild Salmon of the Broughton Archipelago.
thank you to all of you who can see the terrible things afoot and are stepping
into the void to do something. Wild salmon will not easily survive our generation.
While the situation feels hopeless it is important to remember Margaret Mead's
doubt that a small, committed group of individuals can change the world; indeed
it is the only thing that ever has".
am writing you because I am watching a collection of unsubstantiated remarks from
the DFO build an illusion that Pacific Wild Salmon stocks are unaffected by the
marine feedlots trying to rear synthetic, "salmon". Once a highly respected scientific
agency, I find the DFO no longer makes sense.
DFO blame sticklebacks for spreading sea lice, though no one has shown this is
even possible. They claim Broughton Wild Pink Salmon have no migration route,
making them unique among all stocks of salmon. They suggest the young Broughton
Pink Salmon starved, while at the same time reporting those same fish were fat
and healthy. They suggest high salinity caused the lice epidemics, while at the
same time suggesting low salinity prevented Broughton Salmon from thriving.
years ago DFO recognized a migration route, and the farmed Atlantic fish were
removed from that route in the "Pink Salmon Action Plan". Lice numbers plummeted
and Wild Broughton Pink Salmon increased. You might think this would have been
recognized as a solution, but no. Today, DFO denies both the existence of the
migration route and that the fallow ever happened.
hosts" (wild over-wintering salmon) have been reported to the public as the source
of lice, even though DFO cannot actually find them.
I listen at scientific meetings where DFO presents its million dollar sea lice
study in the Broughton, and refuses to even mention "salmon farms," that were
the very reason so much money was spent. Despite this, DFO is on those very farms
counting lice, though we never get to see that data. One government scientist
even reported there is no lice problem, while using a net-type well known to scrape
lice off before the fish reach the surface. DFO reports that tadpole-size pink
and chum fry, with no protective scales, ragged and raw from sea lice eating them.
are fine. And, really pushing the reality barrier, the Minister recently signed
a letter in a Prince Rupert newspaper proclaiming the 2004 Broughton Pink Salmon
returns were a 50-year-high. I felt he was suggesting the industry would therefore
not harm the Skeena River Wild Salmon. In fact, this does not match what we saw
here. The Glendale River (in the Broughton area), for example, had 1.3 million
pinks in 2000 and only 400,000 in 2004.
lice-capades have become ludicrous. Europeans ask can't you people even read,
wondering why we ignore the lessons they suffered. On the one hand we have peer-reviewed
papers from around the world, saying sea lice from salmon farms damage wild salmon
stocks. And on the other hand we have DFO blazing off alone in the opposite direction,
without a single page of published science on this and they are the ones supposed
to protect our Wild Pacific Salmon from industry.
is extremely alarming. As the vast Canadian cod stocks were plundered, DFO decision-makers
refused to listen to their own scientists, rolled out plausible, but fatally unscientific
flawed theories and the world lost a major food source.
corporations were given generous access to our precious coastal habitat. Despite
that, 20 years later they have failed to make a profit and the public is increasingly
rejecting their product. Liberal MLAs in the fish feedlot regions lost their seats
in the last election. Creating a synthetic fish reared on chicken meal and dyed
pink is an idea that has simply failed on this coast because the real thing, Pacific
Wild Salmon, still exists.
don't blame most scientists in DFO, they are as trampled by this as the
rest of us. But bureaucrats safe from the rigors of the business world and the
pressures of reelection need encouragement to notice this venture has failed.
absolutely time to winnow the gifts of this failed and dangerous behemoth and
let the chaff fall away in the manner of every successful business venture.
synthetic fish industry has educated people that could be essential to restoring
the wild salmon to glorious, enviable and profitable abundance. As well, this
industry has given BC state-of-the-art seafood processing plants, and fresh fish
delivery infrastructure that could be used to profit from the diverse wild seafood
products of BC. It even stimulated the science that revealed that BC Wild Pink
Salmon are one of the cleanest proteins left on earth. Just wait till the consumers
be fooled. Wild Pink Salmon in the Broughton are in serious jeopardy and these
marine feedlots are affecting other BC stocks as well. The tough part for me is
telling you that I am failing to protect the Wild Broughton Salmon. Despite the
science, collapsing salmon runs, election indicators, the efforts of our top environmentalists,
this insatiable industry is demanding expansion in the Broughton and access to
the waters off the Skeena River. Every last man, woman and child who thinks they
might someday want Wild Pacific Salmon must peacefully, but resolutely make it
known in anyway that comes to you that it is not OK with you that we loose the
Pacific Wild Salmon.
reproduce this letter freely and make yourself heard in every way you can.
Morton, R.P. Bio.
Broughton Archipelago, BC
Archipelago update February 2005
February 28, 2005 I examined some of the first salmon fry of the 2005 Broughton
Archipelago spring out-migration. They were taken at a site central to the archipelago
called the Burdwood Islands.
Columbia is now familiar with the unprecedented cycles of pink salmon collapse,
sea lice plagues and the increasingly heated debate on whether salmon farms are
responsible. Two beach seines produced 15 very tiny pink and chum salmon. Their
average weight was weighed 0.52 grams. The average sea lice load was 4. It takes
1 gram of salmon to raise a sea louse; half a gram (0.50) of salmon cannot survive
4 lice. These averages are 8 times the lethal load. If people do not want to see
the obvious, I can't help them, but to everyone studying this; the only question
is when will the affected wild salmon runs go extinct.
the Feb 28 sample is small, I get the same results every season these farms are
stocked. Over the next few months this will continue at every stocked farm site
in the Boughton and likely coast wide. Next year it will be the same, until there
are either no wild salmon or there are no salmon farms in juvenile salmon habitat.
These are the plain facts under current management. If sea lice are the problem,
this fall will see a devastating collapse of pink and chum salmon in the Broughton.
The sheer senselessness of this is highlighted by the fact that the salmon farm
in the Burdwood Islands and almost certainly responsible for the majority of sea
lice found at this location, and many other farms in this area are not even economically
of British Columbia's largest fish farming companies went up for sale on Monday
as Canadian grocery giant George Weston Ltd. announced plans to dump its money-losing
Heritage Salmon operations. and has been looking off-and-on for a buyer since
2001." Vancouver Sun, with Canadian Press and Bloomberg, Feb 15, 2005.
Fisheries and Oceans Canada states this issue is too complex to take action they
are terribly misguided. This issue is simple; nature keeps young wild salmon separated
from large parasite-carrying older salmon. Salmon farming breaks this natural
law by placing massive salmon schools in net pens much too near British Columbia's
precious salmon rivers. I have studied many aspects of this epidemic including;
where lice occur coast wide, whether they occur when salmon farms are empty, and
if sea lice kill wild salmon. Outbreaks of salmon lice occur only on juvenile
salmon near salmon farms, only when the farms are stocked and it takes very few
to kill young wild salmon. Moreover my results are in close agreement with similar
work everywhere there are salmon farms.
Columbians are being dispossessed of their fish, but the coastal tourism operators
and fishermen are paying the bill. The heartbreaking element to this is that it
is entirely preventable. BC could have both farmed and wild salmon, if the farms
were removed from juvenile wild salmon habitat. There is absolutely no reason
for this. As it stands we are losing our wild salmon; the essential bloodstream
infusing this coast with the ocean nutrients that support diversity of life, including
humans. Wild salmon are irreplaceable and we had better be certain that we never
want them again, because no hatchery has ever made a wild salmon. Once they are
gone, they are gone.
Morton R.P. Bio., Echo Bay, Broughton Archipelago, Tel. 250-949-1664
is carnage out here ... worst I have seen yet"
May 17, 2004
Channel juvenile pink salmon infested with sea lice, May 2004
the past several years I have felt on occasion that events in the Broughton Archipelago
must be witnessed widely. Today is one of those times.
2001 I have been studying an unprecedented appearance of sea lice on wild juvenile
salmon in the heavily salmon farmed waters of the Broughton Archipelago. After
identifying the epidemic in 2001 (Morton and Williams in press), a cohort of authors
and I looked at pink and chum fry coastwide and found sea lice only on young salmon
near salmon farms (Morton et al. 2001). Last year 11 salmon farms were fallowed
in the Broughton and sea lice numbers fell dramatically and significantly (Morton
et al. in progress). This year the farm salmon are back in the pens and the lice
are back with a vengeance. The relationship is undeniable.
an act of ruthless negotiation Stolt was given another site in exchange for fallowing
one of their sites for a few months last year and now they have both sites stocked.
DFO did a study at cost of 1.2 million last year, during the fallow, and held
a press conference last week offering the take home message that I am wrong, there
is no problem here, in fact juvenile salmon with lice were more robust than those
without lice. The scientific community at large finds this ridiculous.
salmon farming industry is slated to expand upcoast into even more productive
wild salmon grounds.
know the temptation must be great to disregard my work and warnings, but I am
certain I am measuring the local extinction of the odd year cycle Area 12 Mainland
pink salmon. I have been absolutely correct for two years now on the size of this
stock's collapse. The reason I have been right is not because I am great scientist,
but because the damage is so great to any who will see. The number of infected
fish accurately predicts how many pink salmon will not return to spawn. This fall
we will see a good pink salmon return to the Broughton Archipelago because these
will be the fish who went to sea during the salmon farm fallow. But if their offspring
have to swim through a sea of sea lice as this spring's generation is right now,
a 5 million strong population of pink salmon will cease to exist.
scenario has replayed world wide, wherever salmon farms enter wild salmon waters.
Norwegian scientists do not react to my work as DFO does. They say they expected
this to happen to us. DFO has not offered their research to international peer-review.
Channel is a long narrow channel dotted by four Stolt salmon farms and at the
end sits a large Heritage site. Millions of tiny pink salmon entered the east
end of Tribune, but almost none are swimming out the west end. Every morning I
pick up the dying from a short stretch of Tribune. Listless, emaciated, so stunned
they do not hear my boat or see my hand reaching for them, these fish will never
go to sea.
schools are only a few days or hours behind these dying fish, allowing me to stop
and stare at their ruined bodies. Some tilt and sink, wiggle briefly then sink
again. As a young graduate student here tells me every evening, "It's carnage
am not alone in studying this anymore a tiny army of young non-government scientists
are in the field with or without adequate funding. The outlook offered by DFO
last week will be found wrong. Fish with lice are not larger and heavier (please
see above for recent photos).
farms do not need to make lice to farm salmon and they do not need to destroy
the wild salmon. It is not the same as logging where loggers have to take the
trees to log. All that is required here is separation between the farms and the
very small wild salmon. There are communities on this coast that would welcome
land-based salmon farms. There the farms could continue to offer employment benefits
while allowing wild salmon and the myriad opportunities they support to also thrive.
public resource is being annihilated by sheer sloppiness. The salmon farms must
be removed from Tribune Channel and the Burdwood Islands by the end of this year
for wild salmon to continue to exist in the Broughton.
the near future science will pinpoint the farms responsibility for the loss of
wild salmon. The only question is what will be left. I hope the farmers will take
this last opportunity to avoid the legal implications and ruination of their industry
and try something new and brilliant. Denial of a problem this obvious is not the
do what you can to stop this reckless, senseless carnage of a fish so abundant
and generous it should be held sacred and passed to the next generation.
Echo Bay, B.C.
I have not written about the state of affairs in the Broughton
Archipelago for many months to allow the government initiatives regarding sea
lice on salmon farms to run their course without comment.
me start by saying that the natural processes of the eastern Pacific appear hale
and hearty where allowed to run their natural course. The inshore compliment of
small schooling fish continues to grow and attract additional species. This year
I am seeing large schools of sand lance for the first time. An exquisite slip
of purple and silver, this species is characterized by a dorsal fin running the
full length of the fish's body. They are extremely hard to sample as their schooling
instinct is not as strong as many other species, but as I patrol the coastline
for juvenile salmon the flicker and scatter of their schools catches my attention.
This is the third species of fish to arrive on my watch in the Broughton - following
capelin and pilchard, they chummed in at least three humpback whales and 5,000
rhinoceros auklets this summer.
old Maude fed and breached throughout the Broughton and Houdini returned with
the second youngster I have seen her with. Another five humpback whales frequented
nearby Blackfish Sound, as well as, a brief early summer visit by two fin whales.
The presence of so many baleen whales seems a good indicator of marine ecosystem
health. The orca have been in Johnstone Strait all summer feasting on prodigious
runs of Fraser River pink salmon, as well as, abundant chinook, coho, sockeye
and chum salmon. Many fishermen outside the Broughton reported enormous pink salmon
reaching ten pounds (4+kg). I caught several myself in Queen Charlotte Strait.
no mistake, the eastern Pacific salmon/forest ecosystem is thriving.
continue to examine juvenile pink salmon weekly since the first week in March.
I have not completed analysis, but three bold findings are emerging. First,
in the early weeks of marine life it would appear the tiny 3.5cm pink salmon maybe
highly dependant on barnacle larvae for food. Second, the Broughton is
clearly not just a juvenile pink salmon migration route, it is also an important
nursery area this year. There are still both pink and chum salmon smolts here
in high abundance. Subtle differences in physical proportions between schools
cause me to suspect the fish here are not only from Broughton rivers, but also
rivers south of here such as perhaps the Philips and Quinsam. The scientific literature
says these fish should have put to sea long ago in June and early July and yet
they continue to leap and flash throughout these waters.
I recorded a dramatic decline in sea lice on wild juvenile salmon in the Broughton
this spring. Since this is the first decline in 3 years this suggests to me, that
the Provincial Sea Lice Plan, which kept salmon farms on one partial migration
route empty, worked brilliantly. I expect this gave the Broughton even cycle pink
salmon runs a chance to recover; lice loads were at least ten-fold smaller than
the previous two years.
addition, the virus IHN killed three more salmon farms here (6 total in 18 mos),
leaving almost no adult Atlantic salmon alive to host sea lice in the Broughton.
The result is inescapable - very few salmon lice. In addition to my own work,
a graduate student joined me at my newly formed research station and presented
his results in June. He studied the dynamic between sea lice and juvenile salmon
in one area, from a mathematical perspective. There was no ambiguity, the lice
originated from a single point source which was geographically coincident with
a salmon farm in the process of harvesting and therefore unable to administer
delousing medication to their fish.
the good news:
the salmon farming industry is filling the Broughton with more Atlantic salmon
than were here when this nightmare began. In a truly remarkable act of corporate/government
barter, Stolt offered to fallow their Glacier Falls site, in return for new site
- Humphrey Rock. This site, near the junction of Knight Inlet and Tribune Channel,
will input lice to the migration passageway as much as the site they fallowed.
However, Stolt was not required to give up Glacier Falls and so has now stocked
both farms, as well as, an additional nearby site, Sargeaunt Pass. Heritage towed
their IHN ravaged Burdwood farm back after "sterilization" and will be stocking
it. These farms sit like ducks in a row all sharing the same tidal current. So
the stage is set for lice, lice pesticides and IHN.
announced in the North Island Gazette that they could not find any wild
juvenile salmon at the Humphrey Rock site, and yet I went there and videoed ribbons
of young wild Knight Inlet juvenile salmon streaming past the farm on both sides
of the channel.
My 2002 sea lice records on juvenile salmon strongly suggested this fall's Broughton
pink salmon runs would collapse. The DFO echoed this concern after viewing my
data in their 2003 preseason forecast "The possibility that sea-lice infestations
observed around the Broughton Archipelago during the fry migration in 2002 will
adversely affect survival cannot be discounted."
on size of the broodyear, as of the beginning of September 2003, - the Glendale
River has 8% of it's pink salmon, the Kakweikan has 6%, the Ahta has 2% and the
Wakeman and Kingcome have less than 20 pink salmon. While to the north and south
pink salmon have come home in great abundance and above average weight.
suspect the odd year cycle pink salmon will prove more vulnerable to extinction
because they are not as robust as the even cycle. Last year we were able to elicit
early harvest and delayed seawater entry of farm salmon, but this year the farmers
have already put their fish in the water and I doubt any of us will inspire them
to protect the pink salmon again by actually removing fish. This spring the DFO
spent a million dollars here examining pink salmon during the fallow, but now
without awaiting the results government and industry have simply gone ahead to
threaten the bloodstream of this ecosystem, the nutrient delivery mechanism, the
food of countless species, a coastal community resource - the pink salmon.
the remnants of this cycle of pink salmon incubate within the gravel this winter,
we can contemplate whether we truly never want to see this run again. That the
Broughton pinks are dying out during a regime of extreme abundance coast-wide
is a warning so blindingly bright, only those uninterested in wild salmon survival
could possibly look away and allow it to happen.
8 , 2003
progeny of last year's decimated pink salmon run started leaving their rivers
this week. The chum salmon are also out. This is early, but not unexpected as
the mild winter kept the rivers, on average, one degree warmer than last winter.
There are not many young pinks or chums to be found yet, likely because it is
so early in their season, but they are infected with lice again this year.
winter was also quite dry and this raised salinity levels in the ocean to levels
which favour lice. But salt does not make lice, salmon are the only home to this
species of lice. These lice were hatched on board salmon in the Broughton Archipelago.
we can rest assured the lice did not come from salmon farms, because the Province
fallowed so many farms on the wild salmon migration route? Yes? No.
there are some fallow farms in the Broughton this spring, but that has been true
every spring of this nightmare, the more relevant factor is that there are still
vast schools of millions of adult, lice-bearing, salmon being held in very high
density, at intervals throughout the Broughton. None of these schools are wild
Pacific salmon. They are farmed Atlantic salmon.
DFO revealed recently that a particle will travel 10km on one Broughton tide.
Sea lice can live weeks adrift and so are being carried back and forth throughout
the waterways of this archipelago on 50 or more tides before they have to find
a host or die. One farm of 1.5 million Atlantics is therefore dispersing billions
of larval lice over hundreds of square kilometres, daily, and that is why this
year's new wild salmon are dying of lice again.
my opinion, the Provincial and Federal governments are playing at protecting the
wild fish, only making it look like they responded to this crisis. I say this
because they are not following the hard won protocol designed after the death
of many European wild salmonid populations. Specifically, at every meeting this
winter they continued to excuse salmon farmers from the most basic international
rule - report your lice or loose your license. In fact, they excused the salmon
farmers from doing anything that might disrupt their failing industry, i.e. allowed
continued use of lights which promote lice; allowed them to leave the older, more
lousy Atlantics in the Broughton; and allowed them to leave populations of dying
Atlantics, such as those at Sir Edmund, in the water on which lice will particularly
of my sample of wild fish have lice. While my results are preliminary, a DFO team
working in the area reported the same at their public meeting in my community.
The fish we looked at had been in saltwater only a week or more and would continue
to be infected by lice as they matured.
IS MAKING LICE around here. As a result we are loosing the early runs of pinks
and chum, that much is certain. The only hope is an immediate inspection of every
salmon farm and removal of any with lice. If this is not done, the Province and
DFO are allowing the salmon farmers to destroy a public resource they are obliged
Echo Bay, B.C.
hate to write this "witness" because the recent Provincial announcement (see http://www.gov.bc.ca/agf/)
sounds so wonderful, it sounds like a solution. But the truth is a stunningly
crucial farms will not be fallowed, some started restocking yesterday. As well
Stolt is using this situation as pressure to get a very desirable site that First
Nations and others have stood adamantly against called Humphrey Rock. This site
is on the primary migratory channel, Tribune, and so it won't matter if wild fish
get infected at the south end or the north end.
watching CBC Disclosure (see Disclosure's February
4 archive) which so starkly spot-lighted the relationship between govenment
and salmon farms the current debacle makes perfect sense.
government and the salmon farmers have underestimated is the powerful emotions
people have about wild salmon. As well as the sheer force nature applies against
mono-culture. Some kind of epidemic in Sir Edmund Bay has escalated into a full
quarantine situation, where my boat was intercepted and turned away from the public
waters around their farm today.
don't be deceived by the Provincial annoucement, the fish farmers have shown a
steely edged ruthlessness that will see the end of wild salmon in B.C. if allowed
to continue unchecked. They have government in their grip.
Investigates BC Fish Farms
Farms and Sea Lice
Friends, Colleagues, Family and fish farmer,
Tuesday a meeting was held in Port McNeill by government and the fish farming
industry to roll out their "Action Plan" to protect the young pink salmon this
meeting was astonishing and if nothing further is done, the Area 12 pink salmon
will take a significant, if not final, step towards extinction in the next few
"We do not have an action plan, at some point we will have an action
"Number one is more dialogue" Al Martin
fish farmers said:
They would check for lice once a month and treat when
there were 5 mobile lice per farm salmon. This falls significantly short
of international protocols established by NASCO since 1997 and Stolt would not
be allowed to conduct this lax husbandry in their home country - Norway. If you
wanted to make sure sea lice have an opportunity to spawn before killing them,
you would follow this protocol, it is actually a sea lice conservation measure
and certain death for the pinks.
fish farmers offered to fallow only the sites they have stopped farming because
they were too poor to rear salmon. These sites have not been used in over a year.
Nation representatives walked out and slammed the door when they learned DFO and
the Province had no "Action Plan" despite telling all the meeting was called to
present an Action Plan.
the coalition I belong to CAAR (Coastal Alliance for Aquaculture Reform) backed
down from asking for all farms to be fallowed, to asking for an independent scientist,
who was present, to assess the hydrology and biology to pinpoint which farms were
most likely to harm the pink salmon so that only key sites had to be fallowed,
DFO agreed this would be a good way to go, but Industry said absolutely not.
has refused to grant the pink salmon safe passage. They are trying to promote
the myth that they can protect the pink salmon by treating for lice, however,
this has never worked anywhere, it certainly won't work allowing 5 mobile lice
per fish (in Norway it's 2 lice per fish with a move to 0) and especially won't
work because the salmon farms here have 3x's more fish per site here than in Norway,
which increases the total lice output per farm. In fact, if only 1/2 the lice
are female by the time they treat, each farm of 1.5 million fish could have produced
two shots of over 9 billion larvae each. In addition, new research shows that
treated lice release their eggs and the larvae still hatch. So treatment can do
nothing for wild salmon near farms.
pink salmon are designed to encounter 0 lice in the inshore waters so 9 billion
is a little over the top.
it stands Industry has until 5 pm today to agree that "Safe Passage" for the pinks
means all farms are fallow on the pinks major migration route. Tribune Channel
is a tube, if even one farm produces 9 billion lice every 3 weeks, these lice
will slosh back and forth and fill the tube to lethal levels. There can not be
one lice breeding ground on the migration route for the pink salmon to survive.
refuses, many are making other plans. The instream temperatures are one degree
higher this year so the pinks and chums will be out earlier than last year, the
fallow has to start in two weeks for the six week flush period required to get
rid of the lice larvae.
sad thing is - the pinks don't have to go extinct, it is entirely avoidable. There
are only two farms right now on the migration route with fish. All others are
standing empty though gearing up to receive fish any day. As the Sierra Club made
clear on Tuesday - the wild salmon are not the only ones on the edge of extinction
here, the salmon farming industry sits in the balance too. If they restock and
wipe out the wild salmon, the backlash will destroy salmon farming in British
any have any ideas on what can be done, please contact
Morton's recent communications to Dale E. Evans of Stolt Sea Farm Inc.
Dale and Stolt Executives,
is a picture of your Glacier Falls salmon farm this morning. It is clear we are
both keeping a keen eye on each other. Please don't make this a stand-off. Nobody
in their right mind would put fish in this site, with what we know about sea lice
and the role everyone but you sees your farms are playing in the collapse of wild
would not be worth my salt as a human if I didn't try to do what I can to stop
this madness. Please, Dale and Stolt, get your fish out of Tribune Channel. The
science coming down the line will prove the lice we have already collected came
from your fish and then Stolt becomes responsible for the loss of 5 million pink
salmon to begin with. Then the chum, coho and Chinook salmon death tallies will
come in, then all who have lost grizzly bear tourism, sport fishing, whale watching,
ecotourism and land values will be looking at you.
a minute, Stolt still has time to come out a hero, but as soon as you restock
Glacier Falls you cross a line and this moment will be irrevocably lost.
· · · ·
you for responding, the trouble is, that what you offer simply is not enough for
the wild fish.
as many farms fallow as possible is not going to protect wild salmon, unless you
fallow the farms which are harming them. For Stolt this means Wicklow Point, Deep
Harbour, Glacier Falls, Sargeaunt Pass and Doctor Island must be fallowed in the
next two weeks. Any one of these farms will expose entire wild populations of
salmon to lethal loads of sea lice.
cannot agree that you are committed to good farming practices as you have chosen
not to adopt the very protocols your company must observe in Norway, specifically
to protect wild salmon from sea lice.
do not have useful trigger levels set here for treatment
do not have an early harvest policy for two sea winter fish
do not coordinate your de-lousing with Heritage
have not followed lice monitoring schedules you must adhere to in Norway.
you propose will not benefit the wild salmon already pushed to the edge of extinction
here in the Broughton most likely by your company's husbandry. Recent research
reports sea louse treatment does not kill the lice larvae and so even if you treat
and kill lice on your farms, you infect the wild fish.
addition, from what I can gather, you are holding far more fish per site here
in B.C. than in Norway thus lice levels set in Norway are likely not going to
ever work here. While you keep trying to promote your industry as concerned about
wild fish, the leading research Institute in Norway does not concur.
today cannot be assessed as sustainable because the assumed dispersion of salmon
lice from farmed salmon to wild salmon is so high that it represents a threat
of extinction to migrating smolt"
Norwegian Institute of Marine Research,
must get all your fish out of Tribune Channel and Fife Sound or Stolt will, in
the not too distant future, be found responsible for the collapse of 5 million
pink salmon and other species as sea lice science matures and the samples I have
preserved continue undergoing analysis.
you for the reply.
Friends, Family, Colleagues and Fish Farmers:
New Year to All. I hope this will be a year of real solutions and facing the facts.
This is 5th in a series I call bear witness with me. We are all
watching to see if the salmon farmers of British Columbia will allow 10,000 years
of salmon biology to continue on this coast.
we know the 2002 brood class of Area 12 Mainland pink salmon suffered a 98% population
collapse. As such precious DNA has been lost and the remaining stock weakened
to the edge of extinction. Their progeny will go to sea in a few weeks. Higher
than average instream water temperatures have caused salmon in our local hatchery
to hatch already. I have begun my watch for first seawater entry.
DFO scientists seconded to the Pacific Fisheries Resource Conservation Council
(PFRCC) reviewed all the available pink salmon data; the condition of the out-going
fry, the number of those fish which made it back to the rivers to spawn and their
historic/current escapement coastwide. They concluded sea lice were likely the
cause of the unprecedented 2002 collapse epicentered between Kingcome and Knight
Inlets. If we want these stocks to survive they recommended all the salmon farms
in the Broughton must be fallow in the next few weeks when the next generation
of pink salmon go to sea.
this was only a recommendation and John Davis, Regional Director
Pacific Region, DFO has not yet decided whether to heed the top fishery scientists
in this province - which work for him. As a result, the salmon farmers have been
left to their own devices and have aggressively seized this opportunity to take
the low road. Yesterday, as I toured the Broughton I was outraged to see that
not only have they poured Atlantic salmon smolts into outlier farms, they now
have nets in place, ready to receive fish, on their farms on the primary wild
salmon migration route - at Glacier Falls and Simoom Sound.
Province (Ministry of Agriculture Fisheries and Foods) which profits directly
from the farms and not at all from wild salmon - has been assigned the responsibility
of deciding what is to be done. They have set up meetings to decide what to do
about sea lice on salmon farms. But by the time we sit down, much less reach a
decision, the Area 12 mainland pink salmon's course will already be locked on
cruise control towards extinction.
have met with every level of government, participated in every government salmon
farming initiative, written 10,000 pages of letters, had lunch with the farmers,
invited them into my home, had lunch with the Queen, done the science and borne
witness to the destruction of this ecosystem. After listening to all the assurances
and observing all the vigorous head bobbing - I have no faith in the next round
of meetings, and feel the farmers are not demonstrating good faith restocking
their farms while the government stalls. There is no more data to review and the
best scientists we have, have told us what needs to be done. Fallow ALL
the farms in the Broughton Archipelago now.
has become clear to me each of us must take this issue into our own hands and
do what we think is right. Loosing the pink salmon will unplug this portion of
the coast from the energy source it requires to survive. All human activity based
on wild salmon from bear watching to commercial fishing and ecotourism will collapse
with the salmon. The salmon farms will be here for a few more years and then pollute
themselves to extinction with their own extraordinorary and reckless pathogen
production (IHN, Kudoa, furunculosis, drug resistant sealice, e.coli and ISA).
While Stolt, Heritage, Omega and Nutreco will simply move on, we on this coast
will be left with nothing.
power of one is all we have-----BUT WE ALL HAVE IT.
Simoom Sound, B.C. V0P 1S0
Friends and Colleagues:
writing to include you in the next phase of pink salmon biology in the Broughton
Archipelago. One lesson repeatedly driven home to me over the last 15 years of
salmon farming around my home and research station, is that witnessing something
alone is nearly useless.
month the Area 12 Mainland Inlet Pink Stocks crashed to a low never previously
recorded since the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) began keeping records
in 1953. 98% of the pink salmon from at least 8 rivers (Wakeman, Kingcome, Ahta,
Kakweikan, Glendale, Lull, Ahnuhati, Kwalate) throughout Kingcome, Knight Inlet
and Tribune Channel failed to return. This loss of 5 million salmon is unprecedented
both in magnitude, and scope, see www.raincoastresearch.org
under Current Events for graphs and pictures.
Elsewhere, including Alaska, pink salmon returns were good to excellent, with
no comparable declines.
research (currently under peer-review) on exactly the stocks which crashed revealed
78% were lethally infected with sea lice when they went to sea (approximately
1.6lice/gram host weight) and coho, Chinook and sea run cutthroat were also seen
covered in lice. Sea lice are the leading and only factor suspected to have caused
this very specific, profound crash.
salmon farms and wild salmon share confined waters (lochs, fjords, inlets or bays),
sea lice populations have exploded and wild salmonids crashed. This is nothing
question before us now is - will the 2% surviving remnant pink salmon, which fuel
this entire ecosystem, be forced to migrate through the same clouds of sea lice
larvae as their parents did and continue towards extinction. The only proven remedy
for sea lice build-up is a complete fallowing of all the salmon farms in a connected
body of water.
and Stolt, own these salmon farms and have been asked, privately, to fallow the
8 farms on the primary wild salmon migration route. This would be a large commitment
on their part to the wild stocks. Due to severe, chronic IHN virus mortalities,
most of these farms are already fallow or harvesting at this moment, so it is
a matter of not restocking.
of these farms are preparing to receive smolts and with your help we can all watch
- the Heritage farm in the Burdwood Islands has just finished harvesting their
IHN infected stocks. The farm is still under "quarantine."
FALLS - after lying empty all summer, the Stolt farm at this picturesque
site under a waterfall has ten pens, each approximately 80' long, now in place
with crew quarters attached. There was a seal sleeping on the pens yesterday when
I went by. There were also 250 Pacific white-sided dolphins frolicking in the
area. I am happy to report there are no nets in the water or even visible on the
system. This farm is of primary concern as we have been told they will stock it
with smolts as soon as the nearby Burdwood farm is no longer considered infectious.
It was also one of the sites where wild pink salmon were heavily infested with
sea lice - see Raincoast Research website for photos.
update you on these and other sites on the primary wild salmon migration route
of Area 12 Mainland Inlets in the near future. If they put nets in the water,
we can all know Heritage and Stolt plan to disregarded the science, their own
protocols in Europe and their neighbours request to give the wild salmon a chance
to recover from problems which appear to have originated on the salmon farms.
you all for co-witnessing the next stage in 10,000 years of pink salmon biology
in Knight and Kingcome Inlets.
Morton R.P. Bio.
Colleagues, Friends, Family and Fish Farmers:
a week of extreme weather we got a break for 24 hours (today is back worse with
storm to hurricane force winds). I took advantage of this calm before the storm
to check in again on the salmon farms preparing to put Atlantic smolts back on
the primary wild pink salmon migration route. For those new to these updates see
www.raincoastresearch.org under Current
Events for the details on how these farms appear to be altering survivorship
of the wild pink salmon.
FALLS still sits ready, but happily there are no nets visible, nor
is there a feed shed yet. There are many new blue ropes tied and lying in wait
for something. I wondered about the poor soul alone on this farm last night as
winds shrieked and tore over this coast. As before there were lots of Pacific
white-sided dolphins feeding near this farm.
two farms. One looks quite derelict, the other is gearing up. It has a house and
shed in place and a pile of nets. Some of the nets are orange - appearing to have
been soaked in the copper anti-foulant paint. This paint will begin flaking off
as soon as it enters the water and will drift through the feeding farm fish, and
likely be taken up with the pellets, marinating the young fish in low doses of
this toxic solution as they grow. The label on this paint advises not to allow
chips to enter the water as it is toxic to aquatic organisms. There are 22 - 50'x50'
pens waiting. Ancient First Nation pictographs overlook these pens on the sheer
cliff behind and the First Nations "Eviction Notice" placed on the beach near
this farm has been removed. I sampled a herring floundering on the surface here
with a white fecal cast trailing - a symptom of IHN, which may yet linger at this
site where 1.5 million Atlantic salmon were found to be infected with IHN and
killed earlier this year. IHN is a salmon rhabdovirus which resembles rabies (Ken
Wolf 1988). Another herring with similar symptoms was collected near Echo Bay
and will be sent for testing.
close by Cliff Bay became infected with IHN virus, perhaps as these fish were
towed past Cliff Bay during the epidemic. These fish were reared with the virus
and sold to the public for consumption. This farm is now fallow, but the shallowed
up nets are still in the water and there were 20 mort totes with crows on them
still has many pens full of Atlantic salmon. The two outer pens have been harvested
and remain empty. There were several 100 dolphins feeding in the vicinity of this
the weather has been too extreme for me to visit the farms at the other end of
Tribune Channel SARGEAUNT PASS and DOCTOR
ISLAND in Clapp Pass. If any of you are by those farms a report would
fish farmers have made it clear they intend to restock these farms even though
there is considerable evidence sea lice produced on these farms infected 5 million
wild pink salmon to the brink of extinction. As they are farming in public waters,
the public has the right to watch these farms closely. And that is what I intend
Morton R.P. Bio.
colleagues, friends, family and fish farmers:
power of the aquaculture industry over the DFO has been revealed once again. In
a gesture of complicity, as obvious as a child with his hand in the cookie jar,
DFO sent out a press
release (DFO: NR-PR-02-070E - November 19, 2002) which clumsily attempted
to define the collapse of the Area 12 mainland inlet pink salmon an act of God.
three top causes listed are factors a senior DFO scientist reported to the Pacific
Fisheries Resource Conservation Council could not have caused the
demise of the pink salmon.
was no mortality event in the freshwater,
was no evidence of poor marine survival, in fact there is considerable evidence
to the contrary,
pattern of decline in no way fits "over-spawn" as it was many orders too great
and occured in rivers with only average returns, as well as, ones with exceptional
on their list with the only use of the word "possible" was "impact of sea lice."
If I hadn't witnessed this meeting, I would have thought the release fair, as
lice are at least mentioned. But the detailed reports by a senior DFO scientist
and a biologist have been scuttled by this release. I saw the rings of probabilty
of such an event epicenter over the Broughton and heard reports on what actually
occured in the rivers and the optimal open ocean survivaI evidenced by neighbouring
stocks, threfore I know the DFO has been successfully lobbied once again by industry
at the expense of the commons.
tour of the farms yesterday, showed their intent to restock the same farms where
lethal lice loads infected the majority of wild salmon fry in 2001 and 2002. The
stage is set for collapse to replay in 2003 and 2004 and inevitable extinction.
The farms are now manned, some with divers working on them. Watching the egg take
at Cypress Harbour I felt the stark contrast between the cycle of life spawned
by wild salmon and the cycle of death spawned by the female Atlantics hanging
dying as their eggs were ripped out of them.
DFO has a legacy of ignoring its best and most brilliant scientists, arguing in
the past that salmon don't need water, as in the case of the Nechako River. Allowing
the eastcoast cod to get smaller every year until extinction was ensured and oil
wells could be placed on the Grand Banks. Ignoring their Fisheries Act
and scientist on the impact of acoustic harassment on porpoise to allow fish farms
to force whales from the Broughton Archipelago (ICES
would like to know who in the DFO wrote this press release, because it does not
represent the DFO members who go into the field and it does not represent the
DFO which does the science. It is spokeman to a layer of DFO which I can only
interpret as corrupt and must be removed or there will be no wild fish left. The
last hope for the millions of pink salmon of Knight and Kingcome Inlet is the
forthcoming recommendations by the Pacific Fisheries Resource Conservation Council.
Morton R.P. Bio.
Family, Friends, Colleagues and Fish Farmers:
this is fourth in a series I have called "bear witness with me." We are all watching
the salmon farmers to see if they will allow the Broughton Archipelago to continue
producing wild salmon.
recommendations of the Pacific Fisheries Resource Conservation Council (PFRCC)
came out on Monday of this week www.fish.bc.ca.
In my estimation it was a brilliant piece of work because, for the first, time
DFO scientists were allowed to address the biology, instead of the politics, of
the dynamics between wild and farmed salmon. Senior DFO scientists, reported the
only cause found for the Area 12 mainland pink salmon collapse is sea lice from
salmon farms. They recommended the entire Broughton Archipelago be fallowed to
break the lice life cycle. This was a historic response.
of that they recommend a strategic fallowing of some farms and rigorous monitoring
of lice numbers on farm salmon to see if wild and farmed salmon can co-exist
in the Broughton Archipelago. While more risky, the wisdom of this balances the
economic sacrifice between the salmon farmers and those who need wild fish. It
will also provide the missing scientific link - lice numbers on farm salmon.
has decided to largely ignore this Fisheries Council, struck by the Minister of
Fisheries specifically to advise in a crisis like this, and blindly pursue their
They have restocked Sargeaunt Pass. These new smolts will be at high risk of lice
transmission from the older fish at their Doctor Island farm across the channel.
This would not be allowed in other fish farming countries for this very
reason. By the time the Doctor Island fish are harvested, the sea lice infection
will be established at Sargeaunt Pass and awaiting the young wild salmon in spring.
Pass is an "illegal" site that the Province specifically classified as a "red
zone" to protect the wild Knight Inlet salmon. The Province said they would not
even accept an application for a fin fish farm at that site. Clearly they were
inspired to quietly forget this inconvenient zoning. This farm alone will be capable
of infecting the few remaining pink salmon progeny of the Glendale River, Ahnuhati,
Kwalate and Lull - all of Knight Inlet. We can now expect those stocks to go extinct,
with a resulting domino affect on Chinook, coho, grizzly bears, eagles and human
sensing somehow that they exist outside all government zoning, recommendations
and international protocols, protected by the Campbell and federal governments,
Stolt has also been pumping smolts all week into their Blunden Pass site and likely
another site in Knight Inlet.
has paused amidst this madness, for whatever reason, and has not seen fit to restock
their farms on the same week salmon farms have been found responsible for the
crash of an important wild fish stock. Better than that they are dismantling the
farm at the Burdwood Islands which hosted both lice and the IHN virus in 2002.
that all communities currently being courted by salmon farmers are watching the
fate of the Broughton. We are living your future, as Scotland and Ireland lived
ours. The salmon farmers have been told the wild fish will go extinct if the pinks
are forced to run the gauntlet of salmon farms again. Almost 10,000 years of pink
salmon biology hang by a thread. And yet, some salmon farmers are cutting that
thread now, without the slightest visible effort to allow the wild fish a chance.
I am wrong and Stolt intends to move the Sargeaunt Pass fish farm before March,
but I have no confidence this has even crossed their minds. I have participated
in every government initiative on salmon farm siting, mailed 11,000 pages of letters
to bureaucrats, met with all levels of government, had lunch with the local salmon
farm managers, gone to the media and done the science. None of that worked to
prevent the crisis we are in now and it is getting worse. So legal action is next.
ringside seat on extinction by sheer sloppiness and greed and I ask that you witness
this with me.