Give wild Pacific salmon a fighting chance

Open net pen fish farms threaten the survival of wild Pacific salmon

New research from UBC, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, Genome BC and Pacific Salmon Foundation confirms that farmed Atlantic salmon are the source of PRV (piscine orthoreovirus) in BC waters.

May 26, 2021 — A new study from the University of British Columbia, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, GenomeBC and Pacific Salmon Foundation shows PRV (piscine orthoreovirus) arrived in BC at the same time as industrial fish farming. It confirms that, during their time in open net pen fish farms, nearly all farmed salmon are infected with PRV. Watch the report on Global News.

The study also confirms that endangered wild Chinook salmon from areas near the farms are far more likely to pick up the infection than Chinook in areas without farms. In Chinook salmon, the virus causes kidney and liver damage that can be fatal.

Follow the science

Ottawa nixes restock requests for contentious BC fish farms

DFO denies transfer licence for fish farm in Discovery Islands

Wild First applauds Minister Jordan’s important decision not to allow restocking of fish farms in the Discovery Islands

The way forward

The federal government has mandated that it will work with the province and Indigenous communities to create “a responsible plan to transition from open net pen salmon farming in coastal British Columbia waters by 2025.”

But open net pen fish farmers are resisting this mandate. Meanwhile, these fish farms continue to spread parasites and diseases into BC waters, with devastating consequences for communities and ecosystems across the province.

The transition away from open net pen fish farms has been years in the making.

The effects of open net pen fish farms on wild Pacific salmon have been well-researched and documented for decades. Open net pen fish farm companies have had extensive notice that a transition to modern sustainable aquaculture, through land based closed containment, was coming.

See full timeline

Wild First Voices

Dr. Chief Robert Joseph

“The salmon are so iconic for us. They’re the very essence of who we are.” Hear from Dr. Chief Robert Joseph on the importance of our shared responsibility to protect wild Pacific salmon.

Karen Wristen

Karen Wristen, Executive Director Living Oceans Society, on the critical need to protect wild Pacific salmon and their importance to the entire West Coast ecosystem.

Ray Grigg

It’s time to end the pens and build a more sustainable future, says Ray Grigg, an author, environmental columnist, and founding and executive member of Quadra Island’s Sierra Club. “The sooner they’re out of British Columbia, the better.”

Geraldine Kenny

“The whole ecosystem of this coast beats with the heart of the salmon,” says Geraldine Kenny, founder of Sierra Club BC’s Quadra Island group.

Mike Griswold

Mike Griswold, a commercial fisher for 50 years and long time member of the Fraser River Panel, discusses the devastating impact of sea lice from open net pen fish farms on wild Pacific salmon migrating back to the Fraser River.

Melissa Collier

A commercial fisher and trained biologist, Melissa Collier sees first-hand how open net pen fish farming threatens wild Pacific salmon stocks. “Fishing has been our past and it’s our future,” says the Courtenay, BC, mother of two.

Al Dawson

“The benefits of fish farms do not outweigh the value of wild salmon stocks,” says Al Dawson, a member of the Coast Guard in Campbell River.

Claudia Lake

Claudia Lake, Discovery Islands resident, former commercial fisher, ecotourism employee and wild salmon advocate applauds the Fisheries’ Minister’s decision to remove open net pen fish farms from the Discovery Islands.

Dave Boyes

For decades, Dave Boyes has drawn attention to the devastating impact of open net pen fish farms on wild Pacific salmon. Thank you to Fisheries Minister Bernadette Jordan, for leading the removal of open net pen fish farms from BC waters.

Dan Billy

An elder of the We Wai Kai Nation, Dan Billy supports transitioning away from open net pen fish farms, and is speaking up for the recovery of wild Pacific salmon for all people, for generations to come.

Open net pen fish farms release parasites, pathogens and pollutants into BC waters—with deadly consequences.

Dr. Kristi Miller-Saunders (DFO scientist) on the devastating impact of Tenacibaculum on wild Pacific salmon.

Once wild Pacific salmon are gone, we can’t undo the damage.

And it’s not just the salmon that are at stake. In addition to protecting wild Pacific salmon and the more than 100 species like grizzlies, orcas and eagles that rely on these fish for survival, this transition future-proofs BC’s aquaculture industry and provides the potential for clean, sustainable jobs.

Learn more about the issue

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