Sunday, 29 December 2013

Most Stringent FIsh Farm Laws in the World, Dec 29, 2013

One of the claims that fish farms like to make is that the country they operate in has the most stringent environmental laws in the world regarding aquaculture. It is typical for these claims to be made in many different countries at the same time, hence, the claim is not true as the laws of every country are different.

For example, the claim has been made in Chile, Scotland, Norway and Canada at the same time in the past year. If you follow fish farm news, Chile is acknowledged as one of the most unsanitary fish farm areas in the world and as recently noted in December 2013 posts on this site, the annual escapes are typically 1 million fish, with a max of 4.4 million fish per year. This includes pristine water in Patagonia. Very sad.

And Chile still has not been able to go free of the ISA that caused a $2 Billion loss in 2008, even though their method of dealing with the problem goes to lengths to downplay that the disease is present in one farm or another, or many. If you follow or you will find such articles regularly. Here is one for Dec 2013:

Read the article: CHILE 

Wednesday, December 04, 2013, 23:00 (GMT + 9)

The National Fisheries and Aquaculture Service (Sernapesca) preemptively restricted the activity on a salmon centre of Macrozone 6, where positivity to the infectious salmon anemia (ISA) virus was detected.
Under the risk-based monitoring sanitary survey periodically performed by the authority, ISA presence was found in a cage belonging to the centre Arbolito, located in the ACS 18B, in the north of the Aysen region, near Melinka.
This centre belongs to the firm Southern Cross Seafood.

Given what is indicated in the ISA Monitoring and Control Programme, the centre was classified as being "undeterminably confirmed," pending sequencing. These data will be released within the next 72 hours.
Meanwhile, Sernapesca is conducting surveillance inspections in the affected centre and in the area.

After the 2007 crisis caused by ISA spread in several farms in the country, Sernapesca developed a contingency protocol in four main stages: early detection, outbreak containment, bio-safe harvesting and effective communication to all stakeholders, who are both internal and external to the industry.

From the industry they explain that the ISA virus can not be eradicated, "but it can be handled." And they make it clear that this case is not dangerous, as the farming centre is small: it only has about 180,000 fish, while an average centre currently has about 900,000 fish, Diario Financiero reported.

Related article:

Here is a claim I found for Dec 23, 2013 for the USA, saying it has one of the most stringent laws - commonly the claim is 'the best in the world' etc.: 

Not all aquaculture is created equal, but aquaculture in the United States operates within one of the most comprehensive regulatory environments in the world. Projects that are sited in US waters must meet a suite of federal, state, and local regulations that ensure environmental protection, water quality, food safety, and protection of public health.

This is fish farm communication's spin.

Sea Lice Kill 34% of Wild Salmon Smolts - Ireland, Updated Dec 29, 2013

Cermaq Mainstream lost 15% of its farmed fish to lice in Chile in the last year. In Norway, the annual sea lice loss is pegged at $170 Million in farmed salmon, and $30 M in Scotland. Here in BC, the same companies are still fighting the notion that lice kill wild Pacific salmon fry.

Here is a 2013 paper that show that sea lice kill 34% of wild Atlantic Salmon smolts in Ireland: 

The new paper demonstrates that the impact of sea lice on wild salmon causes a much higher loss (34%) of those returning to rivers in the west of Ireland, than the 1% loss suggested heretofore in the Jackson paper. The new study entitled “Comment on Jackson et al. "Impact of Lepeophtheirus salmonis infestations on migrating Atlantic salmon, Salmo salar L., smolts at eight locations in Ireland with an analysis of lice-induced marine mortality" is published by Krkošek, et al. (2013) in The Journal of Fish Diseases. It points out fundamental methodological errors made by Jackson et al. (2013). Following a re-analysis of the same data, it shows that it incorrectly concluded that sea lice play a minor, perhaps even negligible, role in salmon survival and that this finding emerged following three fundamental methodological errors.

This new paper conducts  a re-analysis of the data with the findings departing substantially from those reported and interpreted by Jackson et al. (2013), and in previous publications that drew on some of the same data (Jackson, et al. 2011a;  2011b).  Whereas Jackson et al. 2013 assert that sea lice cause 1% of mortality in Atlantic salmon, the correct estimate is actually a one third loss (34%) of overall returned stocks.

The new paper gives the example that if, in the absence of parasites, final adult salmon recruitment is 6% of smolt production, then the effect of parasite mortality reduces that recruitment to 4%.  According to interpretations used by Jackson et al. (2013), that is a change of 2%.  However, the overall effect is that it reduces the abundance of adult salmon returning to a river from, say, 6,000 down to 4,000; this 1/3 loss of salmon returns could have significant conservation or fishery implications. Krkošek, et al. 2013 emphasise that their purpose is not to downplay factors other than parasites that may also have a large influence on marine survival of Atlantic salmon. They do however highlight that parasites can and, in this case, clearly do have a large effect on fisheries recruitment, irrespective of apparent changes in overall marine mortality over time, and with important implications for the management and conservation of wild salmon stocks.

Chile: Millions of Escaped Farmed Salmon, Updated Dec 29, 2013

This post documents the high number of escaped fish from fish farms in Chile. The same Norwegian companies that operate in BC operate in Chile. Cermaq Mainstream, for example, lost 15% of its stock to lice in Chile in the last year. In Norway, the sea lice loss is pegged at $170 Million and $30 Million in Scotland. Here in BC, the same companies are still fighting the notion that lice kill salmon fry.

Now the escaped fish of Chile:

ABSTRACT: The exponential growth of the salmonid farming industry during the last 3 decades has created conditions for massive escapes of these exotic species into natural environments in southern Chile. Here, we review and update information about salmonid escapes from 1993 to 2012 and examine their potential environmental, social, and economic consequences. We estimate that more than 1 million salmonids escape each year from marine farms, mainly due to weather conditions and technical and operational failures of net-pens. While a decrease in the magnitude of escaped Atlantic and coho salmon has occurred during the last several years, escaped rainbow trout have not followed the same pattern. Rainbow trout have become a greater threat to native ecosystems due to their greater potential to establish self-sustaining naturalized populations. The main ecological effects of escapees are related to short-term predatory effects upon native fish, long-term effects linked to the likelihood of farmed salmon establishing self-sustainable populations, and disease and pathogen transfer to native fauna. More research is needed to identify and develop reliable indicators to estimate the impact of escapees at the ecosystem level in both marine and freshwater systems. An understanding of the mechanisms of coexistence between native fishes and introduced non-native salmonids may be useful to design effective management strategies aimed at protecting native fish from salmonid introductions. A precautionary approach that encourages local artisanal and recreational fisheries to counteract colonization and naturalization of salmon species in southern Chile may constitute another management option.  

Further down, from the same article:

The infectious salmon anemia virus has also been documented in salmon farms in Norway, Canada, Scotland, the USA, and recently in Chile, causing enormous damage to the industry and the local and national economy (Niklitschek et al. 2013). In Chile, the potential transmission of diseases from farmed salmonids to other taxa such as marine birds and mammals is yet unknown. However, preliminary evidence of skin lesions in dolphins has suggested a potential link to the salmonid aquaculture industry (S. Heinrich pers. comm.).

This is the first suggestion I have read that begins to document that some fish farm diseases are being passed to warm blooded animals, something that one would not expect because changing hosts of different temperature typically kills the infection; however, you will note the reference.

The graphs on production of farmed fish are good in this document from the main areas in the world. Unfortunately, Pacific and Atlantic production in Canada are lumped together, when they are 5,000 miles apart in different oceans and should not be conjoined.

In addition, look at the high concentration of farms in Chile and compare this with the 130 licences in BC.

From the Niklitschek article:

Chile is the second largest producer of farmed salmon in the world. After reaching a peak harvest of 631 000 tonnes in 2008, a severe sanitary and production crisis triggered a major legal and operational reorganization, and an imminent expansion of the industry into the Ayse´n Fjords System (AFS). This expansion has caused increasing national and international concern about its potential negative impact upon this pristine area, which holds a mosaic of unique ecosystems and three World Biosphere Reserves. This paper reviews and provides some upper bounds to potential impacts under two feasible production scenarios. It is concluded that severe but highly localized mid-term damage to the sea-floor bottom may affect up to 6200 ha. Although this surface area represents only 0.5% of the AFS, the high heterogeneity and limited scientific knowledge of local ecosystems increase the risks of damaging sensitive habitats, communities or populations. While additional inputs of up to 60 000 t of nitrogen and 8000 t of phosphorus can be predicted, the estimation of carrying capacities is a pendant and urgent task to be accomplished in this area. If current escape rates are not reduced, the average number of escaped salmon may exceed 4.4 million individuals each year, able to consume up to 6600 t of pelagic prey from local ecosystems. We recommend following a strict precautionary approach, not granting new farming leases until sufficient information about the risk and magnitude of these impacts is obtained and transformed into effective management actions. Key words: aquaculture, Chile, environmental impact, farming, Patagonia, salmon.

DC: In other words, the fish farm companies are trashing these world class pristine wilderness areas in Patagonia as they do in all of the areas they set up shop promising jobs and revenue. In Chile, during the ISA crisis in 2008, some 13,000 to 26,000 indigenous people lost their jobs.

In BC, after 30 years, the actual fish farm employment is only 795 jobs and GDP contribution is a very small $61.9 Million. They put out more sewage than the entire population of humans in BC. I will document this figure in a future post.

Thursday, 26 December 2013

Harper Government Dismantling Canadian Government Science Resources, Updated Dec 26, 2013

This Tyee article is a very good summary document of many of the actions taken by the Harper Government (as Harper likes to call it) to dismantle our federal government science capability that Canadians have paid and continue to pay for:

It starts with the issue of closing the science library in Winnipeg, and then goes on to list toward the bottom many of the other steps the Harper Government has taken in the past year or so. Such items include gutting the Fisheries Act of environmental clauses, doing the same to the Environmental Protection Act. firing scientists and other actions.

If you look back in these posts, the Royal Society put out a stinging indictment of the government's lack of action on our three coast oceans in 2012:

Friday, 20 December 2013

Key Document: Cohen Commission Website, Updated Dec 20, 2013

You can find the Cohen Commission Website at:

DFO sent the address on my request, after I found no document on their site about having archived the site.

Cohen has been stored on Archives Canada website. Do use the URL as I spent a long time on the site looking for the website and found only scattered documents, perhaps 1% of the Cohen documents.

Here, from Feb 7, 2012 is an example of the documents regarding the deficiencies of ISA testing regs:

A Critique on Infectious Salmon Anemia Virus Detection Capabilities of the Canadian Fish Health Protection Regulations S.A. Goldes, MSc. 2011


Atlantic salmon eyed eggs have been imported almost yearly into British Columbia during the period 1985 until 2010 from a number of countries including the USA, UK , Iceland and also from Atlantic Canada (BC Atlantic Imports). Source aquaculture facilities, except for more recent imports from Iceland (where the definition of lot was not achieved, however the rest of the procedures were the same) were certified free of specified piscine pathogens of concern according to testing protocols mandated in the Canadian Fish Health Protection Regulations (CFHPR). Immediately prior to shipment, eyed eggs were disinfected according to the CFHPR iodophor disinfection protocol. Certification and iodine egg disinfection together are the pillar’s of Canada’s defense against the introduction of exotic piscine diseases such as Infectious Salmon Anemia (ISA). In order to protect British Columbia’s wild aquatic ecosystems and aquaculture industries these measures must provide a high level of security. Close scientific examination of these regulatory measures however raises concerns that in‐practice, these measures fail to provide the high level of protection required. This discussion focuses on issues with (1) ISA detection using cell culture, (2) sample size, and (3) iodine surface disinfection, however there remain many other weaknesses.



Here is the first paragraph of the article. Pretty damning stuff:


Infectious salmon anemia was first reported in Norway in 1984 (Plarre et al., 2005), coincidentally one year prior to the first importation of Atlantic salmon eyed eggs into BC from Scotland in 1985. Atlantic salmon eyed eggs were imported into BC almost yearly from the UK from 1985 to 1993, despite the fact that Norwegian ISAV epizootics were ongoing and also with the knowledge that detecting ISAV by cell culture was not possible (Mjaaland et al., 1997). Thus during the early years of Atlantic salmon imports (1985 to 1995) the Canadian government understood that the CFHPR protocols were incapable of detecting ISAV. At that time it was naively thought that ISA was limited to Norway alone and that Scotland was sufficiently distant. Later this assumption was proven erroneous, because shortly after ISAV cell culture became possible in 1995 (Dannevig et al., 1995a; Dannevig et al., 2 1995b), ISAV was detected in: New Brunswick in 1997 (Mullins et al., 1998), Scotland in 1998 (Rodger et al., 1998) and Maine, USA in 2001 (Bouchard et al., 2001), as well as several other countries. It is also worth mentioning,
that despite the devastation ISA has caused aquaculture elsewhere, ISA is still not listed in the current CFHPR as a pathogen of concern. The CFHPR specifies that the...

Wednesday, 18 December 2013

DFO Aquaculture Licencing - Posted December 18, 2013

While DFO has yet to respond to the Cohen Report, and took the site down (it's location is next to impossible to find, now) it is moving ahead on licencing regulations for in-ocean fish farm licencing. Cohen said the responsibility for fish farms should be lifted from DFO and DFO should get on with protecting wild salmon in BC. This regulation work was very poorly advertised for those of us who would respond. Here is what I said. You might like to email DFO yourself:

Dear DFO:

BC residents overwhelmingly want fish farms out of our pristine ocean and on land.

You should be transitioning these old-tech dinosaurs to on-land, closed, recirculating systems. We don’t want them fouling our pristine ocean anymore. You need to pay attention to this as the only way forward for these multi-billion dollar Norwegian derivative companies is to: get out of the water, or go back to Norway. The issue is how soon you make a change.

The most recent symposium on closed containment was in Virginia this past September, 2013. Tides Canada maintains a link to the plus fifty presentations. They are even doing closed containment science in Norway for Pete’s sake:

For my list of 65 different on-land fish farm systems, comprising more than 8,100 actual on-land fish farms around the world see:

You need to get on the right side of this issue and eliminate fish farms from BC water. There are about 100 Million wild salmon in BC in a good year - this is not Atlantic Canada where there may be perhaps 2 Million wild Atlantics. Famed salmon have never been placed in waters with Pacific salmon before. I would guess that from California all the way around to Korea, the total is 1 Billion. You are placing all of these wild salmon at risk from fish farm diseases – 10 species of salmonids.

You should close the industry. Your own science person Kristi Miller showed in Cohen evidentiary hearings that Clayoquot Sound farmed chinook had 25% rates of both ISA and HSMI. That is more than 100,000 diseased farmed salmon per farm. There are only 501 wild chinook left in Clayoquot Sound – this is your own number – and the Kennedy Lake sockeye run collapsed more than 20 years ago.

You need to get fish farms out of the water. This small licencing fee of $1 Mil revenue is very small potatoes compared with what we in BC lose to your intransigence, and that Cohen told you to stop doing. By the way, where is your response to the Cohen Report more than one year later, when he said you should not be supporting farmed salmon anymore and should concentrate solely on wild salmon?

DC Reid

Saturday, 7 December 2013

Mainstream – Slaughtered fish Money, Clayoquot Sound – Updated Dec 7, 2013

In response to Grant Wartkentin’s post about taxpayer-funded slaughter payments to Cermaq Mainsream for its Clayoquot Sound fish that had IHN, here are some quoted segments of his post: 

If Reid had done a 30 second Google search for "Cermaq financial statements," he would have found the actual amount of compensation we received in the public Cermaq quarterly financial reports, particularly for Q4 2012

The number you are looking for is on page 7 where it states:"Mainstream Canada received a compensation of NOK 15.4 million following the mandatory culling of the Millar site due to an IHN outbreak in July 2012."
That's roughly $2.8 million CAD, a far cry from Reid's imaginary number of $35 million. The market value of the fish which were culled, if they had grown to harvest, would have been at least 10 times that amount. 
Hopefully Reid will correct his mistakes, since his whole premise, and his numbers, are completely fabricated nonsense. 
In response: yes, it has been a long time since I have accepted anything a fish farm says without doing independent research. I lost belief in fish farms when they neutralized a Jan 9, 2004 Science article showing that farmed fish had high levels of PCB’s, cancer causing chemicals and persistent organic pollutants (1). The post on this read like a Hollywood movie script (2,3,4).  The same Albany university group has been publishing on the chemicals in farmed fish in the years following their Science 2004 article, and Norwegian scientists have also published on this in 2013 (5).

My investigations should result in the actual dollar figures paid for slaughtered farm fish all across Canada, but an estimate is the best that can be done now because fish farms are not transparent. I researched the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, and other sources to come up with what seems a reasonable approach – you can see it in the last post. So, until I have independent verification of the amount, my $35 Million estimate stands for now – I have noted Wartkentin’s claim of $2.8 Million. Should it or another figure prove to be the more likely than my current estimate, I will amend my figure.

Let me give you an example of non-transparency. A year ago, my research into fish feed showed that some companies were using chicken and other land animal faeces in fish feeds. I checked on Cermaq/Mainstream’s fish feed company EWOS and found that among other things, they were using, as they put it, feather meal. This means chicken feathers. So if you eat a farmed fish, you could be eating chicken feathers. These have been shown to contain multiple chemicals in them, for example, fluoroquinolines. I would not eat a farmed salmon.

I sent a note to EWOS asking them if they used chicken faeces and/or animal faeces in their fish feeds. I did not receive a response. I asked six times, and received no response. If I had been EWOS I would have wanted to be sure no one in the world thought I was using faeces in EWOS feed. So it is still not clear whether chicken faeces or other animal faeces are in EWOS feeds.

One other thing, Mainstream actually had IHN virus at three Clayoquot fish farms: Millar, Dixon and Bawden. Wartkentin does not mention this. And Grieg had IHN at Culloden in the Sechelt. In 2001 to 2003, 36 fish farms in BC had IHN, killing some 12,000,0000 farmed fish. Were these compensated for at today’s figure of $30 per fish this would mean $360 Million. Canadian taxpayers don’t want their tax money going to foreign multi-billion dollar corporations. In this case the company is owned, currently, 59.2% by the Norwegian government and the people of Norway.

The final thing I would add is that the tone of Wartkentin’s notes is not professional. If I were Mainstream/Cermaq I would not let him speak this way, or I would let him go.

1.       Science, Jan 9, 2004. This is the article that fish farms neutralized: This Albany (Hites et al) group has gone on to author many reports on chemicals in farmed fish in the years since 2004, including chemicals that cause cancer.

2.       This is the link to the article David Miller wrote on about the fish farms. It details a story that doesn’t seem real, one that would make a Holllywood script. After reading this, you will probably come to the same conclusion that I did:  I never believe anything a fish farm company says unless can independently verify the claim:

5.    See the table Norwegian scientists referred to in October 2013, on chemicals in farmed salmon. The chemicals in farmed salmon are about a factor of 10 times all other commonly consumed meats. The table can be found here: