Clark government approves new fish farm in Clayoquot Sound
Tofino, B.C. – Environmental groups have written an angry letter to Premier Christy Clark for allowing the approval of a new salmon farm site in Clayoquot Sound on the West Coast of Vancouver Island while never addressing serious concerns about diseases from farms impacting wild salmon.
On October 3rd the Province offered Mainstream Canada a 55-hectare salmon farm tenure on the shores of Meares Island, near Plover Point, in the Clayoquot Sound UNESCO Biosphere Reserve.
Environmental organizations and Tla-o-qui-aht First Nations first wrote to Premier Clark on July 18th asking her to ensure that site approval would not go ahead given the weak state of wild salmon stocks and evidence of recent disease outbreaks at Mainstream Canada's existing farms in the area. The Premier responded saying that they could expect a reply from the Minister of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations, the Hon. Steve Thomson, addressing all concerns. No communication has been received from the Minister.
The July 18 letter to Premier Clark pointed out that Clayoquot Sound salmon runs, particularly Chinook salmon, are in dramatic decline, with some runs now being counted in the tens, rather than in the tens of thousands. Clayoquot Sound already has 20 salmon farm sites. No wild salmon population anywhere in the world has thrived in close proximity to salmon farms.
In May of this year, Mainstream reported an outbreak of Infectious Haematopoietic Necrosis virus (IHN) on one of their open netcage salmon farms in Clayoquot Sound. The fish from this farm, numbering 560,000, were destroyed. In July another of Mainstream's Clayoquot farms reported an outbreak of IHN, and these fish were also destroyed.
Dr. Kristi Miller, Head of the Molecular Genetics section at the Pacific Biological Station, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, reported Infectious Salmon Anemia Virus (ISAv) positive test results in two other Clayoquot Sound salmon farms last year.
The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) has started a two-year, coast-wide pathogen surveillance program to get a more complete picture of the ISAv, IHN, and infectious pancreatic necrosis (IPN) situation in British Columbia's wild salmon. All of these pathogens are highly contagious and can cause mortality in wild and farmed salmon.
Furthermore, the Commission of Inquiry into the Decline of Sockeye Salmon in the Fraser River (Cohen Commission) is scheduled to release its findings at the end of October. Bonny Glambeck from Friends of Clayoquot Sound denounced the tenure approval decision saying: "The Plover Point salmon farm site should never have been approved in advance of the Cohen Commission report and recommendations, which will likely bring in new measures to curb the expansion of salmon farming on the B.C. coast."
Bonny Glambeck 250-726-5100