Tuesday, 16 January 2018

DFO Asleep At The Switches

DFO has published a paper on the probability of escaped Atlantic Salmon invading a local river and spawning, and other interactions in NL.

It is called: Spatial and temporal distribution of farmed Atlantic salmon after experimental release from sea cage sites in Newfoundland. By: Dounia Hamoutene1, Curtis Pennell1, David Cote1, Kimberly Marshall1, Sebastien Donnet1, Shannon Cross1, Lorraine C. Hamilton2, Shayne McDonald3, and Keith D. Clarke1

And what did they do? They let go a bunch of tagged, farmed Atlantic salmon and looked over many months to find them.

And what did they find? "Since migration to the open ocean was rarely observed in any season and animals were not detected beyond a few weeks it was assumed that most individuals experienced natural mortality within the fjord of Fortune Bay. Negative interactions of escaped farmed salmon are therefore likely to be largely contained within the fjord for short temporal durations."

In other words, this is the same old DFO chant of: they can't eat, they can't survive, they can't enter rivers, they can't spawn. In short, they all die really quickly. No impact. Right?

Well, no. They did look for the radio tags by receiver and over five months. That's good. And they found 387 receivers, also good. And they got their fish from local fish farms. Hmm, not so good. It's the old conflict of interest issue.

And as much as 80 km was traveled by a spring releaser. 59 were detected at river mouths. Mature males, at 42%, were the highest number of fish.

And more of what they say:

"Experimentally released adult Atlantic salmon rarely survive for more than a year in the wild as they likely experience high natural mortality (Hansen, 2006; Skilbrei et al., 2015) caused by predation (Whoriskey et al., 2006), inhospitable habitats (Hansen, 2006), and starvation (Olsen and Skilbrei 2010; Abrantes et al., 2011). A small proportion may return (Skilbrei et al., 2015) but most farmed individuals released at the post-smolt stage or later do not home, as they lack imprinting to natal rivers. Instead they move with the prevailing currents and indiscriminately move into nearby freshwaters to spawn once they reach maturity (Hansen, 2006). Many tagging studies observe that the majority of post smolt individuals are not detected beyond the fjords in which they were released"

So they don't survive long, are eaten, can't eat, can't live, don't home, so they don't spawn. But they do split pretty quick from the farm site. But, spawning? Hmm. What is that Hansen study that seems to be disregarded. You know, the spawning part  of it.

Oh, spawning, that's about being up a river and surviving for a time. Did they go up rivers, you ask? Well, that's a good question. So, did DFO look up the rivers? Well, no. But of course, if you follow this blog you will know that there are a half dozen posts in December, 2017, about the work of, get this, former DFO scientist John Volpe, who did indeed swim and snorkel 40 rivers on Vancouver Island, BC and found, in rivers with several species of salmonids, that 97% had farmed Atlantics and their fry. That is shocking.

Did this current paper mention Volpe? Well, no. Well, then they wouldn't know, as we know they didn't go up the rivers to check. Yes, that is true.

Another thing is that they keep saying they probably died from starvation. This does not square with the goPro video from the summer of 2017 in BC, where the shots clearly show herring inside fish farm nets, and fry. They can swim in and out, and if you watch there is some snacking on wild fish inside the net. By the way, it is against the law for fish farms to consume wild fish. That is considered a fishery. 

But DFO in NL doesn't seem to know any of this.

But that didn't stop DFO concluding:
"Despite considerable differences in climate, geography and strain of farmed salmon, the behaviour of farmed salmon on the south coast of Newfoundland shared several qualitative similarities to other regions – including fast dispersal times and season-specific movement responses. However, migration to the open ocean was rarely observed in any season and it was assumed that most individuals experienced natural mortality within Fortune Bay within a few weeks of release. Negative interactions of escaped farmed salmon are therefore likely to be largely contained within Fortune Bay. Interactions within Fortune Bay are occurring and given the vulnerability of some wild populations on the south coast of Newfoundland, measures need to be taken to minimize the consequences including the testing of potential recapture strategies."
Hmm. And they thank the fish farms. But don't mention Volpe. Go back to Dec 2017 and read the papers, that DFO couldn't seem to find, written by that other DFO scientist. See the link below.

It should not happen that DFO does not mention contradictory evidence. I guess it's inconvenient.


I sent the following to those in NL who follow fish farm issues and will want this information:

This NL research does not square with the BC research by John Volpe – and I note they do not list him in the references. He has published a half dozen papers so far, most recently in 2014. You can find his snorkel data in this link to my site: https://fishfarmnews.blogspot.ca/2017/12/atlantic-salmon-in-bc-rivers-bad-news.html. Those who are fishers will find his river-specific observations fascinating and useful for timing fishing.

His conclusion is that of the 40 Van Isle rivers snorkelled, those having multiple species of salmonids have a 97% rate of Atlantic invasion, including subsequent generations. This is shocking.

Volpe was working for DFO and not so surprisingly, he was yanked from this work, put on other work, and subsequently left to work at universities, among them U Vic. I have volunteered for the DNA study they are going to do. Apparently just taking a test tube of water can have enough DNA for analysis to prove the presence of Atlantics. And the rest of the day I fly fish. My kind of job.

I have fished 50 drainages on Van Isle, which is 500 km long, and about 160 km wide; there are 123 drainages, though some are very small. 


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