Thursday, 23 February 2017

Fish Farm Sewage - Huge Cost to BC Residents: $10.4 Billion

Here is an updated article that shows how to calculate the sewage from BC fish farms, Marine Harvest, Cermaq and Grieg Seafood. You pay for this. Do you want to?

Because fish farms use our ocean as a free, open sewer, the people of BC absorb and thus pay for their sewage and the amount is, conservatively estimated, huge: $10.4 Billion.

The common theme in urban sewage treatment is an unwillingness to pay for anyone else’s sewage – the costs are so dramatically high. The cost of a new sewage treatment plant in Victoria is $783 Million – and we all expect it to exceed a billion, the way things are going/not going. The cost of upgrading the Iona and Lion’s Gate sewage treatment facilities in the lower mainland is $1.6 Billion. The Ottawa system in 2012 was about $370 million capital/operating costs. The Halifax system in 2000 was (in 1997 dollars): $307 million in capital costs.

No BC resident wants to pay $10.4 Billion more when the alternative is $0 to BC residents if BC closes fish farm leases, which takes 60 days. That’s all. We don’t need this polluting sector that has only 820 actual jobs and whose contribution to gross provincial product is a measly $61.9 million – for all of aquaculture. 

It doesn’t make sense to leave fish farms in our water. No one wants to absorb and thus pay their sewage cost.

Here is how you do the calculation: 

1.     There are about130 licences with about 80 operating and with an average number of fish of 600,000 in BC. These are conservative figures.

2.     The CRD cost of a new sewage treatment facility is: $783 million for 360,000 people. The first is a conservative figure and the second is high because it includes some Gulf Islands, and Sooke residents (60,000) that are not on the system, leading to a conservative estimate.

3.     The commonly found figure on Google for the sewage conversion rate is the sewage of 10 fish equal the sewage of 1 human being. 

And now the calculations:

The Sewage: 80 farms X 600,000 fish per farm = 48 Million fish / 10 = the sewage of 4.8 M people.  BC’s population is: 4.6 Million people. Fish farms put more sewage into our pristine waters than all the human waste created in BC, every year. This is conservative, as I have not factored in both nitrogen and phosphorous loading. See Scotland, below.

The cost of sewage treatment: $783M (Victoria cost) /360K people = $X/4.8 Million fish sewage expressed in human sewage terms = $10.4 Billion. And this is only building the system, not operating it, so the cost is conservative. 

Even if we double the accepted number of fish per human to 20, the cost is still huge at $5.2 Billion. Do you want to absorb and thus pay these figures because fish farms are ‘free riders’ (the economist’s term for those who cause damage but don’t pay for it)? 

DFO is planning on expanding 11 fish farms and bringing 2 new ‘farms’ in the water. Do you want to pay the sewage cost of these, too? The calculation, as above, assuming 300,000 fish per expanded farm, and 600,000 per new farm is: an extra $980 Million - in addition to the $10.4 Billion you currently support. Do you want this? I didn’t think so.

Send your thoughts to Christy Clark:; and to the Minister of DFO, Dominic Leblanc:; or, Tell them you want fish farms to be on land, and treat their sewage as energy, for hydroponics, or cash (11). Or they can go back to Norway. Our economy will be in better shape than it is now.

In Scotland, fish farm fish put more nitrogen and phosphorous in the ocean than the entire human population, just like the sewage calculation in BC. Norway has nearly ten times the number of BC fish farms, and has a long, jagged coastline, just like BC. Chile has 1,170 farms, and has sheltered water, just like BC, and is probably the dirtiest of all fish farm countries. The algal bloom, in part caused by fish farm sewage, killed 25,000,000 farmed salmon in 2016. Yes, that’s 25 million.
Do you want the sewage in our ocean to be ten times the sewage of all the people in BC? Do you want the sewage bill to be: $104 Billion? I think not.


1.     Sewage plant costs in the Lower Mainland in 2013:, and,  The article has a good map of the lower mainland.

2.     Sewage plant and treatment costs in Ottawa in 2012 is: Calculated for low and high flow days, the annual cost is $.687 X 365 = $250.755 million, to, $1.343 X 365 = $490.195 million. Or about $370 million per year.

3.     Sewage plant and treatment in Halifax in 2000 (1997$), is:

4.     If you read the Victoria TC, almost daily, it has the $783 million sewage plant cost in it.
5.     Fish farm sewage is greater than the sewage of all the people in Scotland. This article deals with nitrogen and phosphorous:

6.     Number of fish farms in Norway, 2013: In ocean: Salmon = 991, Other fish = 110, Total = 1,101. And there are over 90% of licences operating. This implies the BC figure 80/133 X 100 = 60.1% operating is not likely to be correct, making the cost of sewage another 50% higher than the $10.4 Billion figure = $15.6 Billion.

This Nova Scotia newspaper shows 200,000 fish produced the excrement of 65,000 people, or 3 fish per human.This would triple the $10.4 Billion BC estimate to $31.2 Billion. See:

8.  This article says: ‘a fish farm with 200,000 salmon releases nutrients and fecal matter roughly equivalent to the raw sewage generated by 20,000 to 60,000 people’. This means 3 to 10 fish equal the sewage of 1 human being. See:

9.     Fish farms say they produce no sewage, and their feces are nutrients that support wild animals: Myth 6: There sure is a lot of contradictory evidence in the footnotes to this article. And if you Google fish farm environmental damage, you will find more than 50 pages of links that have lots of contradictory evidence, even though fish farms can’t seem to find it. And feedlot fish are foreign in the ocean, and should not be there. They are not the same thing as the natural amount of sewage from wild fish that are the only ones that should be there. 

10.  Fish farms like to compare themselves with on-land animal farming. Check this out to see how damaging cows/hogs/chickens are on land:
"One toxic microorganism, Pfiesteria piscicida, has been implicated in the death of more than one billion fish in coastal waters of North Carolina." We don’t just need fish farms on land, they need to clean up their sewage, too. Fish farms are like feedlots where cows stand up to their shin bones in excrement. And on-land farms don’t just spray their sewage into the air, landing for miles around on other owner’s properties.

Calgary, a city of over 1 million people, collects the methane produced and makes enough electricity to power the entire sewage plant operation for zero dollars. Its tertiary treatment flow into the Bow River results in a Blue Ribbon trout fishery, and water clean enough to be taken up once again. Milwaukee, a city of 600,000 makes $40 million annually by digesting human sewage into Milorganite sold as fertilizer.
See: And:

12.  See the sewage on the bottom underneath a fish farm on Youtube:

13.  Cooke aquaculture, Nova Scotia. More than a dozen videos of their operations. Note that one states that 4,000 lbs of sewage passes through a fish net every day:

14.  A recent report on NS fish farms, which has good information on the sewage under fish farms, along with photos. Lots of worms, but not much else:

15.  Tonnes of dead fish taken from Cooke Aquaculture in 2014. The amount of dead fish is hard to believe:

 16.  Watch this seagull die:

 17.  Ken Ashley, Director of Rivers Institute, did an op-ed in the TC in June 2016. He pointed out that sewage is a revenue stream and needs to be kept and used, not thrown away. Much engineering work these days is in those applications. In addition, sewage that reaches the sea doesn’t disappear. Instead, it gets bio-accumulated up the food chain to apex predators like salmon and killer whales. We don’t want that. See:  
18.  To write this article, I looked at sewage treatment in Victoria (ha, ha), in the CRD, Vancouver, GVRD, Calgary, Ottawa, Halifax, and fish farm sewage in Scotland, Chile and Norway; in the latter, it far exceeds the human population of 8 million. Then I read a number of riveting (not really) scientific papers on sewage treatment, for example the one from Nova Scotia is excellent. I also talked with the engineers of the Calgary, Bonnybrook Wastewater Plant that serves a million people.


Note: text from:  Fish Fish Farm Environmental Cost - BC, in Salmon 2010

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