“Huge salmon farm escape reinforces urgent need for action on closed containment”

From: Don Staniford <dstaniford@puresalmon.org>

Subject: "Huge salmon farm escape reinforces urgent need for action on closed containment"

Please find enclosed a press update including:
 
"40,000 fish escape farm – Gillnetters near Sointula report catching Atlantic salmon" (The Times Colonist, 24th October)
 
"40,000 salmon escape B.C. farm" (CBC News, 23rd October)
 
"Huge salmon farm escape reinforces urgent need for action on closed containment" (Living Oceans Society, 23rd October)
 
 
Includes:
 
"This demonstrates once again the urgent need to transition all open net-cage farms to closed containment systems" (Will Soltau, local coordinator for Living Oceans Society)
 
 
Note that this escape is the latest in a litany of incidents at Marine Harvest farms all over the world – including over 100,000 in both 2008 and 2007 and a single incident in Norway approaching half a million in 2005:
 
September 2009 – 1,000 from Marine Harvest Norway’s farm in Hjorundfjord:
 
July 2009 – 10,534 from Marine Harvest Scotland’s farm in Marulaig Bay:
  
December 2008 – 43,507 from Marine Harvest Canada’s Lime Point farm:
 
October 2008 – 7,424 from Marine Harvest Scotland’s farm in Loch Duich:
 
July 2008 – 30,000 from Marine Harvest Canada’s Frederick Arm farm:
 
November 2007 – 23,805 from Marine Harvest Scotland’s farm at Isle Ewe:
 
September 2007 – 15,075 from Marine Harvest Scotland’s farm at Glenfinnan/Salmon Bay:
 
May 2007 – 52,353 from Marine Harvest Scotland’s farm at Caolas Loch Portain:
 
March 2007 – 18,500 from Marine Harvest Scotland’s farm at Scotasay:
 
February 2006 – 25,000 from a Marine Harvest Norway farm in Sor-Trondelag:
 
September 2005 – 490,000 from Marine Harvest Norway’s farm in Trustna:
 
 
Marine Harvest’s "Sustainability Report 2008" published in July 2009 states that "The continuing objective of Marine Harvest is to achieve a record of zero escapes" (p21) and then provides the following data on escape incidents reported in 2008 (p22):
 
Escape incidents reported in 2008
Business Activity Number of incidents 2008 Number of fish escaped Approx weight of escaped fish Number of incidents 2007 Number of fish escaped
Canada Freshwater 1 ~20 juveniles 1 20
  Sea water 3 108,589* 2 kg 7 <100
Chile Freshwater 0        
  Sea water 0     1 1,300
Faroes Freshwater 0        
  Sea water 1 2,000 3 kg    
Ireland Freshwater 0        
  Sea water 0        
Norway Freshwater 2 500 0.1 kg 2 36,200
  Sea water 2 45 0.8 kg 1 6
Scotland Freshwater 0     1 15,000
  Sea water 2 7,444 5 kg 2 63,708
Total   11 118,598   15 116,334
*Marine Harvest Canada’s loss of a single net of fish at three locations in 2008 reversed a recent trend of few escapes. Internal and regulatory investigation of these events has resulted in improved containment procedures as well as the adoption of the Norwegian Standard for cage mooring.
 
 
 
Please pass on other press articles.
 
Best fishes,
 
Don
 
 
The Times Colonist, 24th October 2009
 
40,000 fish escape farm – Gillnetters near Sointula report catching Atlantic salmon
 
By Judith Lavoie

A recovery vessel working for a fish-farming company recovered about 1,100 escaped Atlantic salmon yesterday, and will continue working over the weekend to catch more of the estimated 40,000 escaped fish.

The salmon got out late Wednesday evening after crews, using a pump system and pipe, removed dead fish from the two pens at Port Elizabeth on Gilford Island, said Clare Backman, director of environmental relations for Marine Harvest Canada.

The fish died because of low oxygen levels in the water, a phenomenon that occurs intermittently in the area, Backman said. "It was during that process that a hole in the net occurred," he said.

But the recapture vessel was not able to start fishing until Thursday and by that time, gillnetters in areas such as Sointula, about 40 kilometres from the Broughton Archipelago, were reporting catches of Atlantic salmon.

"The response time really troubles me," said Chief Bob Chamberlin of the nearby Kwicksutaineuk-Ah-Kwaw-Ah-Mish band.

"One of the only reasons we found out was because a commercial fishery was going on and they were catching Atlantics."

Chamberlin, who is also secretary-treasurer of the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs, an organization that’s pushing for more First Nations involvement as regulation of fish farms passes from the provincial to the federal government in February, said assurances from the industry that Atlantic salmon won’t affect Pacific salmon have been proved wrong.

"Where are these fish landing? Are they going into our rivers?" Chamberlin asked.

Will Soltau, salmon-farm campaign co-ordinator for Living Oceans Society, said despite initial assurances that Atlantic salmon could not survive or breed in B.C. waters, escaped farm fish have been found in 80 B.C. rivers. Populations of juvenile Atlantic salmon have been found in three rivers, including the Tsitika, in the same area as the latest escape.

"This demonstrates, once again, the urgent need to transition all open net-cage farms to closed containment systems," Soltau said. "This will be a major financial loss to the company and another blow to the health of our marine ecosystems and wild-salmon population."

Marine Harvest has been responsible for several major escapes in the last two years, but instead of moving to closed containment, the company puts Band-Aids — such as improving net strength — on 20th century technology, Soltau said.

However, Backman said most escaped Atlantic salmon either starve or are eaten by seals and sea lions.

The escape will cost the company hundreds of thousands of dollars, since the fish weighed an average of 4.7 kilograms and were ready to be harvested, he said.

"We don’t have a full count yet of the number of fish which escaped, but the loss will be significant."

The escape was immediately reported to government and a company investigation is underway, Backman said.

Until this week’s incident, Marine Harvest had seen only 19 escaped fish this year, he said.

Escapes in the B.C. salmon-farming industry shrank to minimal numbers between 2003 and 2007, but shot up last year when more than 100,000 fish escaped, out of an annual total production of more than 35 million.

jlavoie@tc.canwest.com

http://www.timescolonist.com/fish+escape+farm/2141317/story.html

 
CBC News, 23rd October 2009
 
40,000 salmon escape B.C. farm

Farmed salmon kept in net pens like these can escape if the nets tear, as they did near northern Vancouver Island this week. Farmed salmon kept in net pens like these can escape if the nets tear, as they did near northern Vancouver Island this week. (CBC)

About 40,000 Atlantic salmon have escaped from a fish farm on the B.C. coast.

Marine Harvest Canada says the fish escaped Wednesday from its farm at Port Elizabeth, on the Pacific Coast about 400 kilometres northwest of Vancouver.

The company says divers discovered several holes in two pens at the farm and efforts are being made to prevent more escapes from the pens, which still hold thousands of fish.

"Through the night Wednesday we had people working at the farm site to stop up the holes and reverse any ongoing problem with the escape," said Clare Backman, Marine Harvest’s environmental compliance officer.

The Living Oceans Society environmental group says hundreds of thousands of farmed salmon escape every year.

"This demonstrates once again the urgent need to transition all open net-cage farms to closed containment systems," said Will Soltau, local co-ordinator of the society’s salmon farm campaign told the Campbell River Mirror.

"This will be a major financial loss to the company and another blow to the health of our marine ecosystems and wild salmon populations,’ said Soltau.

Conservationists say escaped farm salmon can spread disease and sea lice to wild salmon on the B.C. coast.

Marine Harvest is the biggest aquaculture company in B.C., according to the company’s website.

 

Related

Internal Links

http://www.cbc.ca/canada/british-columbia/story/2009/10/23/bc-salmon-farm-escape.html

Comments include:

"fish farms…blah…………..get rid of them all!"

"ALL fish farms should be immediately shut down. Farms are only a diversion so the public don’t realize the terrible shape that the natural salmon are in."

http://www.cbc.ca/canada/british-columbia/story/2009/10/23/bc-salmon-farm-escape.html#socialcomments

 

Living Oceans Society, 23rd October 2009

Huge salmon farm escape reinforces urgent need for action on closed containment

SOINTULA, B.C. – Just days after the Norwegian government reported a 380 percent increase in escapes from open net-cage fish farms over this time last year, Marine Harvest Canada has admitted to another mass escape of approximately 40,000 farmed salmon in the beleaguered Broughton Archipelago.

“We knew something was up when I received a call this morning from a gillnetter who’d been fishing north of Malcolm Island and catching numerous Atlantic salmon,” said Will Soltau, Living Oceans Society’s Salmon Farm Campaign Local Coordinator. “Everything pointed to yet another large escape from an open net-cage farm.”

This morning Marine Harvest reported the Atlantics had escaped on October 21 from their open net-cage farm at Port Elizabeth near Gilford Island. The fish were close to harvest weight, an average of 4.7 kilos.

“This demonstrates once again the urgent need to transition all open net-cage farms to closed containment systems,” said Soltau. “This will be a major financial loss to the company and another blow to the health of our marine ecosystems and wild salmon populations. Closed containment could have prevented both.”

Living Oceans Society and its allies in the Coastal Alliance for Aquaculture Reform (CAAR) continue to urge the federal and provincial governments to support a closed containment innovation and development fund and facilitate a transition of all open net-cages to closed systems. Investment in new green technology innovations will not only foster job creation in B.C. but eliminate the ever-present threat of escapes from open net cage systems.

Three Norwegian corporations own 90 percent of all farms in the province. One of them, Grieg Seafoods, lost over 132,000 fish in an escape from a Norwegian farm this year. Escaped farm salmon have already been found in more than 80 B.C. river systems and populations of feral juvenile Atlantic salmon have been discovered at three locations in B.C.

-30-

For more information contact:

Will Soltau
Salmon Farm Campaign Local Coordinator
Living Oceans Society
Phone: 250-973-6520   

http://www.livingoceans.org/media/news10230901.aspx

—– Original Message —–
To:
Sent: Friday, October 23, 2009 7:29 PM
Subject: 40,000 salmon escape at Marine Harvest Canada – Port Elizabeth (Broughton)
Here’s breaking news of another farmed salmon escape at Marine Harvest Canada.
 
Ian Roberts explained via email:
 
"We had been aware of this fish escape yesterday and immediately called authorities and have worked over the past 24 hours to ensure no further losses occur and to determine the scope of the escape. We now have all information required and will post this information on our website as attached shortly."
 
The attached Marine Harvest press release states:
 

October 23, 2009

For Immediate Release

Media Contact:

Clare Backman, 250-850-3276 ext 7258

Salmon Escape From

Marine Harvest Farm

Campbell River, BC. Marine Harvest Canada reports an escape of farm-raised

Atlantic salmon from its Port Elizabeth site on Wednesday, October 21st.

Scuba divers discovered several holes in two pens at this Broughton area farm

while removing fish which had died as a result of low oxygen levels.

Prevention methods to eliminate further escape are in place. This incident has

been reported to regulators and a vessel is on site for recapture efforts.

A substantial number of fish still remain within these two pens. The exact number

of escapees will not be known until officially recounted next week, but is

estimated to be approximately 40,000. At an average weight of 4.7 kilograms,

these fish were shortly to be harvested and have not been treated with any

antibiotics.

This unfortunate event may represent a significant financial loss to the company.

The cause of the holes remains under investigation, but may be related to the

fish removal process.

Marine Harvest Canada will provide an update when more information is known.

For more information about fish escapes visit:

http://www.marineharvestcanada.com/farming_escaped_farmed_salmon.php

Marine Harvest Canada produces 40,000 tonnes of high quality farmed Atlantic

salmon each year. The company employs approximately 550 people on

Vancouver Island and the central coast of BC.

-30-

www.marineharvestcanada.com

 
 


From: Roberts, Ian [mailto:Ian.Roberts@marineharvest.com]
Sent: October 23, 2009 10:55 AM
To:
Subject: Fish escape

Hello;

 

I am sending you this attachment in advance of posting this on our website. We had been aware of this fish escape yesterday and immediately called authorities and have worked over the past 24 hours to ensure no further losses occur and to determine the scope of the escape. We now have all information required and will post this information on our website as attached shortly.

 

Sincerely,

 

Ian Roberts

Marine Harvest Canada

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