Healthy Oceans. Healthy Communities.

They can run, but they can't hide

December 5, 2017

Salmon have been escaping from open netpen salmon farms on the BC Coast for three decades. In August, over 300,000 fish escaped from a Cooke Aquaculture facility in Washington State and have been reported as far away as northern Vancouver Island. 

It's time to find out what they're getting up to in our rivers. Can you help? We need to raise some funds fast; and we need volunteers.

Until recently, looking for escaped salmon meant an expensive effort: diving the rivers. That's what Dr. John Volpe and his research team did when he was with the Department of fisheries and Oceans, back in the late 1990's. Systematically surveying over 40 rivers, he found Atlantics in several of them. In three rivers, he found juvenile Atlantics: clear evidence that the escaped fish had spawned. In one case, he found two year-classes of fish: evidence of a feral population of Atlantic salmon.

Typically, the Department reacted to the discovery by finding other work for Dr. Volpe.

Today, DNA technology provides a much faster and less expensive way to find the escapees. A simple water sample will contain enough genetic material to find them.

Living Oceans is teaming up with Dr. Volpe (now at UVic) and Washington's Wild Fish Conservancy in a project to track the extent of migration of the Cooke aquaculture escapees. We'll be looking in rivers on both sides of the border.

What's even  more interesting is that we'll be testing twice: once this winter, to find the adult fish; and again in the spring, to see where they've spawned. Then we'll send the divers in, to find out if the Atlantics are actually competing with, or eating, native Pacific salmon.

The winter testing has to happen between now and the end of January, when the adult Atlantics typically enter the rivers. We need your help to make that happen!

Will you help us with a donation today?

For more information about this campaign, as well as all of our other ongoing campaigns, please see our latest issue of our Rising Tide newsletter here.  And for more information on how to make a donation, please click here.

With sincere thanks,