August 20, 1999 Another Sign that Atlantic Salmon Could Move in to Stay

Another Sign that Atlantic Salmon Could Move in to Stay

August 20, 1999

Vancouver, BC - In light of the recent discovery of 42 juvenile Atlantic salmon in Amor de Cosmos Creek, the Campbell River Branch of the Steelhead Society of BC advocated today that protection of wild salmon and steelhead runs must be the government's priority when it considers guidelines for the fish farming industry and the state of the moratorium on expansion. "Not only should the moratorium on net-cage salmon aquaculture be kept in place, but there should be a move to convert all existing net-cages to closed loop systems within three years," stated Society president Daniel Burns.

To ensure that British Columbia's wild fish are safeguarded, the Steelhead Society of BC is urging that the moratorium on expansion be kept in place until the closed loop containment systems are phased in and proven effective at protecting wild salmon and steelhead stocks. These closed loop systems must be escape-proof and have no discharge of net-cage waste and allow no risk of disease transfer to wild salmon populations.

"Based on this recent discovery of juvenile Atlantics in Amor de Cosmos Creek and the similar discovery in the Tsitika River last September, it seems that the current practices of the salmon farming industry are in no way protecting the incredible stocks of Pacific salmon that are so important to BC," said Bill Rodgers, Branch Chair of the Campbell River Branch of the Steelhead Society.

On average, 60,000 Atlantic salmon escape from BC net-cages each year. These non-native salmon compete with native Pacific species for scarce food resources in the marine environment. it is also feared that escaped Atlantics may attempt to spawn and could establish a viable population of Atlantic salmon on the west coast, and event that could be devastating to many Pacific stocks. The findings in the Tsitika River and Amor de Cosmos Creek prove that Atlantic salmon are able to spawn in BC rivers.

"Salmon farms, as currently operated, present risks to wild salmon that are not taken into account in the over-the-counter cost of the salmon they produce," stated Burns. "Thus, any decision, other than maintaining the moratorium and moving to closed containment systems, would present an unacceptable is to the health of the ocean environment and wild salmon."