Twenty businesses and organizations are recommending that the federal government not renew BC fish farm licenses, when they come up for renewal next year.

Fish farm licenses are about to expire

BC is the only West Coast jurisdiction that allows fish farms. There are no open net fish farms in Oregon. They have been banned in California, Alaska and Washington state.

A total of 109 federal salmon farm licenses, held by MOWI Canada WestCermaq CanadaCreative Salmon and Grieg Seafood, will expire between June and September 2022.

On June 23rd,  independent biologist Alexandra Morton told Cortes Currents, “Myself, Watershed Watch and Clayoquot Action put out a news release to inform British Columbians that all of the salmon farm federal licenses are about to expire. Most of them are expiring next June and others later that summer. We want to let people know that the same process that happened in the Discovery Islands is going to be replaying in all the First Nations territories where this industry is sited.”

Asking the feds to not renew fish farm licenses
Aerial view of a Cermaq’s Fortune Channel salmon farm in Clayoquot Sound. Photo: Clayoquot Action

 

Pathogen detection

The BC Salmon Farmers Association’s response was to point to their recent press release about the study “Aquaculture mediates global transmission of a viral pathogen to wild salmon.”

Lead author, Gideon Mordecai, told Cortes Current, “Our findings show that salmon farms are, indeed, a source of infection for wild fish. Viruses leave a genetic fingerprint. The genetic fingerprint shows that the same viruses that are on the farms are in the wild fish. All the evidence suggests that the virus is being transmitted from the farm to wild fish. I haven’t seen any evidence that says that’s not happening,”

In their response, BC Salmon Farmers wrote “Pathogen detection does not equate to disease … Given that there have been no major die-offs, or significantly high numbers of uncontrollable fish health events on farms, it does not stand to reason that BC farmed salmon are spreading highly infectious and harmful diseases to wild populations.”

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Top photo credit: Taking a sea lice count near the Live fish carrier Aqua Tromøy – courtesy Alexandra Moton’s Facebook page