Salmon farms on the way out; immediate implementation needed to protect wild salmon
VANCOUVER — Government’s decision to phase out salmon farms in the Discovery Islands within the next 18 months is a groundbreaking move on the road to recovering wild salmon populations, according to the David Suzuki Foundation. This is the first step toward the federal government’s commitment to move open net-pens out of the water by 2025.
“This win for wild salmon shows the federal government is finally serious about wild salmon survival and transitioning away from open net-pens,” David Suzuki Foundation marine conservation specialist Kilian Stehfest said. “It’s the result of tireless effort over many years by countless Indigenous activists, community members and scientists. The next crucial step is to get the most problematic of the Discovery Islands salmon farms out of the water before March 2021, when juvenile salmon start their migration.”
The government plans to phase out salmon farms as soon as farmed fish are ready to harvest.
“Based on available data, Okisollo Channel — also called ‘Wild Salmon Narrows’ due to its importance for juvenile salmon — should be free of farmed fish by the 2021 salmon migration period. That is something to celebrate,” Stehfest said.
It’s long been clear that sea lice and pathogens originating on salmon farms jeopardize wild salmon survival. Data shows that 33 per cent of farms in the Discovery Islands exceeded the federal sea lice limit during the out-migration period this year. Areas surrounding active salmon farms in the Discovery Islands and Broughton Archipelago are 2.72 times more likely to contain eDNA from disease-causing microscopic organisms such as viruses and bacteria.
“We’re happy to finally see the government take solid steps to eliminate these risks, but it’s critical they start implementation right away,” Stehfest said. “The Discovery Islands is where the impact of fish farms on Fraser River sockeye is most urgent.
“Wild salmon are a keystone species. Given their importance and precariousness, we encourage the government to get salmon farms out of their path as soon as possible.”
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