If you read only one fish farm story this year, this should be it. I have summarized the main issues and given you more than 30 reference links to go read the original information. Fish farms need to be on land and raise a vegetarian fish.
When I first heard the Norwegian Blue Revolution: using the ocean to feed a hungry world and save dwindling wild stocks, I thought it sounded good. Then I read an article by David Miller, a prof in the UK and was stunned by the opposite. (1)
Hites et al, published an article in Science, January 9, 2004 (2), on the chemicals found in Scottish farmed salmon – touted as organic by industry and government – such as cancer-causing PCBs, dioxins, furans, along with other chemicals, including POPs. Miller showed that the government, in collusion with industry, scientists, corporations, front groups, PR firms, ministers, civil servants and journalists, destroyed the article on a global scale, even though it was true. The group included paid scientists, fake websites in north America, even in BC. The PR firm won a global award for trashing the science.
I decided to investigate every claim made and stand for wild Pacific salmon. Today the Blue Revolution is in tatters. The aquaculture, fishing and human sewage in Bengal Bay has scientists shouting a clarion call that the entire world’s oceans may already be at an irreversible tipping point, just like our atmosphere. (29) We don’t need big sewage producers like fish farms in the ocean anymore. My exhaustive research shows the sewage cost to BC taxpayers is conservatively estimated at $10.4 Billion (3). It should be an on-land revenue stream. And Norwegian doctors tell people not to eat farmed fish because of the chemicals. (4)
I now receive almost 30 global press fish farm/seafood industry newsletters every week and have found a huge amount of bad news – 2,500 stories – including from BC, in a little over two years. (5)
For example, fish farming is a boom/bust industry. The BC industry was started for individual residents who soon went belly up, dreams destroyed and remains purchased for pennies by the big Norwegian cartel comprised of Marine Harvest, Cermaq and Grieg Seafood. While the industry is a licence to print money – up to 25% profit – catastrophes are common and without deep pockets, you are toast. Even Grieg has had problems, with Marine Harvest buying 28 million shares to prop it up in recent years. (6)
And feeding a hungry world? The reality is that farmed salmon costs so much that only first world mouths can afford it – $64/kg in China. And the industry is taking food out of the mouths of the hungry, not feeding them. Daniel Pauly’s Sea Around Us (7) document, an exhaustive study of reduction fisheries from 1950 to 2010, showed that of the top 20 global fish stocks used, 19 were either in collapse, badly managed, or both. The only stock that is okay is Antarctic krill and that is not even a fish. Norway is singled out as having destroyed the Jack Mackerel off Chile, including a 100 million tonne take one year. All of these fish should be going into third world mouths, rather than to feed a carnivore fish for first world mouths. Now anchovy off Peru are being decimated to feed farmed fish.
After another marathon number-crunching session, I concluded an industry the size of BC’s, (8) kills 5.76 billion fish to bring in one harvest. Fish farms don’t save fish, they kill fish.
Oh, and the fish diet is why farmed fish has oil content greater than pizza. Almost ten times the fat of any of our other animal protein sources. (9) And fish oil is where the cancer-causing chemicals come from. Healthy, nutritious? I don’t think so. Time to move to insect maggot feed. Yum. Industry spin on this one is that such a move is about sustainability, rather than saying we killed all the fish in the ocean, now we have to find different feed.
The main claim: we bring jobs and revenue turns out to be false, too, even though politicians fall for it everywhere. In BC, fish farms and DFO often claim 6,000 jobs; however, the BC Stats report, which has the best stats (and has DFO’s name on it, though it doesn’t admit it) shows the multiplier number is only 1,700 jobs, or 28.3% of the claim. (10) I ferreted out the actual job number and it is 820, or only 13.7% of what is claimed. Marine Harvest’s 2016 manual says employment is low because the process is mostly automated. (27, 28) With the 100% automated China processor, more jobs will be lost in BC and around the world. (11) All the jobs in the blood-water, Brown’s Bay facility, for instance.
The commercial sector has declined 1,700 jobs in the same time, leading to the conclusion that fish farms don’t create jobs, they replace ones they decimate. All of aquaculture contributes, despite inflated industry stats, only $61.9 M to GDP with commercial, processing and sport contributing 10 times as much, over $600 M. And the multiplier number? 12,200 jobs, or more than 700% higher jobs than fish farms. (10)
As for revenue, it goes to Norway for distribution to shareholders, as that is the only purpose of a corporation. And I should add that Cermaq was created inside the Norwegian government and made many politicians filthy rich. They call this neo-liberalism. We call it fraud.
And there is more bad news. Jo Lunder, the CEO of the company that owns Marine Harvest, was thrown in jail for bribing Uzbekistan officials hundreds of millions of dollars. He would still be CEO if his previous job ‘skills’ had not been uncovered. (12) And there was a Marine Harvest manager thrown in jail for false lice and escape figures.
The BC industry likes to claim its fish don’t escape, but the 2014 Volpe study (13) showed that of Vancouver Island rivers snorkeled, some 36.6% had more than one generation of Atlantic Salmon. In rivers with multiple Pacific salmon species, Atlantic presence rose to a shocking 97%. Volpe says it’s obvious industry is not reporting its losses. Norway has the same problem with the same companies and now DNA tests escaped fish and fines the company that didn’t report them. We should do the same.
And you will recall Cooke Aquaculture’s excuse for its nets failing and dumping 200,000 Atlantics into Puget Sound in August, was the eclipse. The hoots of our derision included: if your nets don’t work, get out of the ocean. You will recall the several thousands of plastic feed bags that were released in Barkley Sound not long ago. That fish farmer had an excuse as well: a storm carried them away. There is a lot of blaming nature for things, such as lice and diseases, too. We are supposed to feel sorry for a company that has such problems? No. And viewing sea lions as a ‘nuisance’? ‘Golly, we don’t want to kill them with a bullet to the head, but we have no choice.’ A mosquito is a nuisance, a sentient, one-ton animal is not. Both problems solved by being on land.
And diseases are a big issue. In Chile, the ISA crisis – the worst disease – in 2008 caused a $2-billion loss and threw 13- to 26-thousand people out of work. The ISA came from Norway, as did the ISA found in BC in 2016, by Morton et al, the most serious disease. (14) In fact, the CFIA/DFO labs couldn’t find ISA and concluded it wasn’t here, but it came out they had poor labs and tested for the Atlantic Canada version of ISA rather than the Norwegian, that Morton found. Dumb.
And there is one case I think is fraudulent and should be independently investigated. DFO and CFIA got together and colluded to find a lab that was sure to produce a negative result for disease. (15) They picked the BCMAL lab that is now controversial, because it would bring in a no disease result.
Some federal staff should be fired. And BCMAL is being investigated by Horgan’s new crew.
Included in denial of problems, is going after scientists that criticize the industry. Dagbladet, the second largest news paper in Norway, published an article citing almost 20 scientists who have been harassed. (16) Science is further corroded by giving scientists money, data and so on. Marine Harvest has, for example, 90 studies on lice alone. (17) That’s a lot of per$ua$ion. CEO Aarskog says lice are Marine Harvest’s worst global problem and if someone has a solution, please tell him. This is not the story you hear in BC, even though I have a list of 30 lice studies in BC. (18, 23)
Lice problems are so bad that last year Scotland paid $483 million in lice chemicals and still lost 10 million fish. Norway lost 18 million fish to lice as well. Chile lost 25 million fish to an algal bloom caused in part by its own sewage, and dumping 75,000mt of dead fish too close offshore. (19) Their 53 million fish loss, dented world supply 8.7%. Norway is constantly fining companies for too high lice counts. Now, Cermaq is looking for millions of litres of lice chemicals in Clayoquot Sound. (20) Hmm.
Everywhere in the world fish farms go – Norway, Shetlands, Faroes, Scotland, Ireland, Iceland, USA, Atlantic Canada, BC, Denmark, Tasmania, Chile, Australia, New Zealand, China, Korea, Russia, where millions of dead fish were found rotting in the Murmansk dump, and etc. – the people who have to live with them come to overwhelmingly reject them. I am in touch with groups around the globe and they all want them out of the ocean. The problems are the same: catastrophic disease, algal bloom, sea lice, antibiotic resistant bacteria… the list goes on.
The reality is that Norway has grown so fed up with its fish farm problems that it stopped auctioning in-ocean licences in 2014, and now gives out free licences to set up on-land, a $9- to $12-million subsidy based on the auction price. If Norway won’t allow new conventional farms in the water, neither should we. And Marine Harvest is investing $100 Million in closed-containment. (21)
So, we say to them: you can set up on our cheaper land, with our cheaper labour and bring your monetary policy inflated Krone (at least against the CDN$) to buy more stuff to set up on land. Or, you can go back to Norway, pay more and set up on land there. Remember that that free on land licence here is the equivalent of the $9- to $12-million subsidy in Norway. It’s a good deal.
Who is on land you ask? Finland does not allow fish farms in the water, preferring to buy product from Norway and let it destroy its own ocean. Denmark has 50% of its industry on land. Closer to home, California, Oregon and Alaska forbid in-ocean fish farms. Washington is bringing in legislation to do the same after the Cooke collapse that put 200,000 farmed fish all the way to Tofino and Campbell River, with Atlantics found in the Fraser and Skagit rivers. Sooke BC and Tortel Chile forbid farms, too, as is Victoria that is taking the lead on having other BC cities forbid them, too.
And what is the difference between the big two? Alaska with its ocean ‘ranching’ and no fish farms harvested 243 million salmon this year, while in BC our commercial catch was non-existent. Stunning. It’s time to act, not dither. I’d say that those of us who follow salmon, acknowledge just how bad things are getting. In the past 40 years, DFO is the main problem with lack of freshwater habitat restoration, added to fish farms and climate change.
I have read 20,000 pages of science – my first degree is in biochemistry. And come to the reluctant conclusion that calling for science is naïve, hubris, or a manipulation. Yes, science has shown that up to 90% of Fraser River sockeye died of a viral signature. And more of Kristi Miller’s work has shown that PRV leads to HSMI, the third worst killer (the same in Norway). But thinking that science solves anything is naïve/hubris. The manipulation is mostly by industry, they like science because they get to stay in the water longer, and once the science is in, they say, no that doesn’t say we caused it. We need more science. Then they are off the hook for another few years. Instead, let’s just do what Norway does and put fish farms on land in closed containment and move on.
And just how common are on-land fish farms? Fish farms would have you believe that Kuterra is world leading, and a shaky experiment that can’t make money. But that is also bull. My list has 208 different fish farm systems on land, comprising some 20,000 actual on-land farms around the world. (22) On-land is common and in-ocean is a dinosaur dying breed. Atlantic Sapphire, item 176 in my list, coming on stream in Florida, aiming for 150,000mt, may well destroy the BC industry, as it has transportation cost advantages and consumer preference in the US market. And, get this, Marine Harvest executives are jumping from Norway to Atlantic Sapphire. They see the writing on the wall. To save jobs here, BC fish farms need to be on land.
And the claim that lice are no problem? I have a list of about 30 lice studies in BC (23) that say that’s not so. And a list, including Canada, of more than 50 articles on the antibiotic resistant bacterial genes being created by fish farms so human antibiotics won’t work. (24)
And did I mention that we Canadians have paid fish farms more than $177 million for their diseased, dead fish, including in BC? (25) We don’t want to pay. The problem is solved on land.
That is why I am hopeful for our fellow aboriginals and their occupation approach. It changes the argument from endless, fruitless years of science to an immediate issue of rights under the law, the Tsilhqot’in decision, for example. I’d like to see Quocksister et al move Marine Harvest out of the water in the Broughton Archipelago. If they set up a go fund me site, I would donate.
And Andrew Weaver, John Horgan et al have said it is time to move to land. It’s a lot cheaper in BC and much less trouble than going back to their own country and setting up on land. In addition, they’d avoid some favourite BC diseases: kudoa for MH; furunculosis for Grieg at its ‘organic’ Skuna Bay where they killed 65 sea lions in their nets (26); and IHN Cermaq/Grieg Seafood. In fact, there are several dozen diseases/parasites/fungi/algae that on-land avoids.
And you would have had to be asleep not to have seen the GoPro video shot in random pens in a dozen BC fish farms this past summer. Every farm showed: deformed/malignant fish, sick behaviour and clouds of fecal matter. (30) All avoided on land.
1. Link to the David Miller article: http://fishfarmnews.blogspot.ca/2011/10/key-document-fish-farm-tactics.html.
2. Link to Hites et al: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/14716013.
3. Link to sewage calculation: http://fishfarmnews.blogspot.ca/2017/02/fish-farm-sewage-huge-cost-to-bc.html.
4. Link to Norwegian doctors telling people not to eat farmed fish: http://fishfarmnews.blogspot.ca/2014/10/.
5. Link to sixth BAD NEWS BITES post: https://fishfarmnews.blogspot.ca/2017/08/bad-news-bites-salmonseafood-industry.html.
6. Link to Marine Harvest buying Grieg shares: https://fishfarmnews.blogspot.ca/2017/11/how-bad-it-it-to-be-grieg-seafood-this_25.html. Item 6. Note fines for not counting lice in item 5.
7. Link to Sea Around Us document: http://www.seaaroundus.org/doc/publications/books-and-reports/2016/End_Use_Reconstruction_Report.pdf.
8. Link to fish calculation: http://fishfarmnews.blogspot.ca/2016/10/fish-farms-kill-billions-of-wild-fish.html.
9. Fat content of farmed fish is this graph from the EU:
10. BC Stats report table: http://fishfarmnews.blogspot.ca/2017/09/atlantic-salmon-breed-in-bc-rivers.html.
11. 100% automated fish processor in China: http://fishfarmnews.blogspot.ca/2017/08/bad-news-bites-salmonseafood-industry.html. It is item 434.
12. CEO Jo Lunder thrown in jail: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2015-11-06/billionaire-fredriksen-suspends-ceo-lunder-amid-bribery-probe.
13. Link to farmed fish in BC rivers, Volpe: http://fishfarmnews.blogspot.ca/2017/09/atlantic-salmon-breed-in-bc-rivers.html.
14. Link to ISA, Morton paper: https://www.facebook.com/alexandra.morton.1671/posts/1864901490405070.
15. Link to DFO/CFIA fraud: http://fishfarmnews.blogspot.ca/2016/09/canadian-food-inspection-agency.html.
16. Link to 20 scientists: http://fishfarmnews.blogspot.ca/2017/06/scientists-harassed-by-fish-farms.html.
17. Link to Marine Harvest 90 lice studies: http://fishfarmnews.blogspot.ca/2015/05/marine-harvest-lice-are-our-worst.html.
18. Link to 30 BC lice papers: http://fishfarmnews.blogspot.ca/2016/02/lice-numbers-dont-match-up-in-bc-and.html.
19. Lice losses in Scotland, Norway: http://fishfarmnews.blogspot.ca/2016/07/news-bites-farmed-salmonseafood.html. Item 489 is Scotland.
20. Cermaq looking for 2.3 million litres in lice chemicals: https://clayoquotaction.org/2017/11/deny-cermaqs-pesticide-permit/.
21. Marine Harvest investing $100 million in closed containment: http://fishfarmnews.blogspot.ca/2016/06/closed-containment-marine-harvest.html.
22. 208 On-Land Fish Farm Systems, 20,000 actual around the world: https://fishfarmnews.blogspot.ca/2016/05/152-different-on-land-fish-farm-systems.html.
23. Link to 30 BC lice studies: http://fishfarmnews.blogspot.ca/2016/02/lice-numbers-dont-match-up-in-bc-and.html.
24. Link to ARB: http://fishfarmnews.blogspot.ca/2017/11/antibiotics-in-fish-farms-cause.html. https://fishfarmnews.blogspot.ca/2017/11/antibiotics-in-fish-farms-cause.html.
25. Link to $177 M for diseased dead fish: http://fishfarmnews.blogspot.ca/2016/01/taxpayers-pay-for-diseased-dead-fish.html.
26. Link to 65 sealions killed by Grieg in one fish farm: https://fishfarmnews.blogspot.ca/2017/11/how-bad-it-it-to-be-grieg-seafood-this_25.html. Item 7.
27. MH handbook on low job numbers: MH Handbook: http://fishfarmnews.blogspot.ca/2016/09/worker-job-numbers-worldwide-marine_27.html
28. Technology reduces worker numbers: https://www.undercurrentnews.com/2016/11/25/nissui-testing-automated-offshore-salmon-farm-tech/?utm_source=Undercurrent+News+Alerts&utm_campaign=af28d89ffa-Americas_briefing_Nov_25_2016&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_feb55e2e23-af28d89ffa-92426209.
29. Link to Bengal Bay Tipping Point: http://fishfarmnews.blogspot.ca/2017/02/killing-our-oceans-with-fish.html.
30. Video of malignant fish, sick behavour and clouds of fecal matter: https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=155&v=duhnZB5Bjcw.
30. Video of malignant fish, sick behavour and clouds of fecal matter: https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=155&v=duhnZB5Bjcw.
A few others:
1. A scandalously long post on weak fish farm laws: http://fishfarmnews.blogspot.ca/2017/04/the-strictest-laws-in-world-wrong.html.
2. Link to 113,000 petition signatures for BC to take fish farms out of the water: https://www.change.org/p/remove-salmon-farms-from-musgamagw-dzawada-enuxw-territory.
3. Link to BC Stats table: http://fishfarmnews.blogspot.ca/2017/09/atlantic-salmon-breed-in-bc-rivers.html.DFO has to be sued to prevent PRV being put in ocean: http://fishfarmnews.blogspot.ca/2017/07/dfo-has-to-be-sued-to-prevent-diseased.html