Category: Salmon farming

Deny Cermaq’s pesticide permit

A small ad appeared in Tofino’s newspaper about a week ago. It stated that Norwegian-based salmon farming giant Cermaq was applying to the BC Ministry of Environment for a permit to use Interox® Paramove® 50 to combat sea lice. A bit of searching on Cermaq’s website revealed their application is to deposit 2.3 million litres of pesticide—enough to fill an Olympic-sized swimming pool—into the pristine waters of the Clayoquot Sound UNESCO Biosphere Reserve over a three-year period.

The active ingredient of Paramove® 50 is hydrogen peroxide, touted as being harmless—the stuff your mom used on cuts, right? Turns out that no—moms don’t do that any more because hydrogen peroxide is “now thought to slow healing and lead to scarring because it destroys newly formed skin cells”.

Sea lice resistance plagues industry globally
Cermaq claims they need to use this chemical as an option to control sea lice. Sea lice outbreaks plague the salmon farming industry worldwide, and are known to impact wild salmon, with out-migrating wild smolts being particularly vulnerable to sea lice infestation. Sea lice are also a vector for transmitting disease from farmed fish to wild fish.

As with all other chemical treatments, resistance towards hydrogen peroxide is becoming a problem for salmon lice control. Friede Andersen, a section chief at the Norwegian Food Safety Authority stated that “widespread use of drugs is no future plan”.

It seems that “hydrogen peroxide may affect the ultrastructure of the skin…(and) the composition of the mucous layer, making it easier for sea lice reattachment. Damage to the dermis from this treatment may also release…chemo-attractants causing sea lice to be overly “attracted” to these fish”. The chemical is known to harm farmed fish and has caused mass die-offs, raising concerns over animal welfare.

Cermaq’s pesticide use application indicates they would seine their farmed fish and place them in a tarped-off area or in a well boat. The fish would be immersed in the chemical bath for 30 minutes and returned to their net pen. The pesticide would then be diluted and released into the environment.

A ticking viral bomb?
This treatment is stressful to the farmed salmon, and weakens their immune system. It can take up to two weeks for the fish to recover, during which period they are susceptible to disease outbreaks.

Many BC farmed salmon carry the Norwegian Piscine reovirus (PRV). But when a fish is stressed, PRV causes Heart skeletal muscle inflammation (HSMI). A diseased farm can shed up to 65 billion viral particles per hour, which are spread far and wide by ocean currents. Because fish breath water directly through their gills, disease transfer from farmed to wild fish is dangerously easy.

Using Paramove® 50 to combat sea lice could lead to an increased spread of disease from farmed to wild salmon.

Peroxide persists and harms organisms
Proponents claim that hydrogen peroxide quickly breaks down into water and air, causing no harm to the marine environment. However, pesticides are designed to optimise delivery, and “may include solvents, surfactants, and stabilizers. The ingredients in the formulation will affect how the active compound behaves in the environment…Rapid degradation will occur…however… hydrogen peroxide can be an extremely persistent substance in the environment.”

Hydrogen peroxide is known to harm other marine organisms. For example, a University of Bergen study showed that hydrogen peroxide in small doses causes shrimp to die. In the same article, Bjorn Olav Kvamme, head of fish health group at the (Norwegian) Institute of Marine Research stated that while hydrogen peroxide does break down “we thought that it happens faster than it actually does…the substance can spread faster by currents than we thought previously…(and) will probably primarily (affect) surface organisms and those living along the shoreline”. Wild salmon, herring, and prawn and crab larvae all rear in shallow inshore waters.

Paramove® 50 doesn’t actually kill sea lice; it stuns them. They then get knocked off as farmed salmon bump into each other in crowded net pens. The mechanism by which this pesticide effects sea lice is not clearly understood—how then can anyone guarantee it won’t harm other organisms living in the environment?

Permit must be denied
Cermaq states on their website they have “no immediate plans to use this treatment…but has applied to have the option of using it…”. The Clayoquot Sound UNESCO Biosphere Reserve is meant to demonstrate a working balance between conservation and sustainable development. Clearly chemical treatments of sea lice are not sustainable, and harm conservation values. The only long-term solution to the industry’s sea lice crisis is to remove open-net pen salmon farms from the ocean.

In the meantime, BC Environment Minister George Heyman must to do the right thing by denying Cermaq’s permit to dump pesticides into the pristine waters of Clayoquot Sound UNESCO Biosphere Reserve.

Clayoquot Action has partnered with SumOfUs to fight Cermaq’s application. Please add your voice—sign the online petition here: https://actions.sumofus.org/a/minister-heyman-say-no-to-cermaq-s-pesticide-permit?source=campaigns.

Dan Lewis is Executive Director of Clayoquot Action. Photo of farmed Atlantic salmon after treatment with hydrogen peroxide from DFO.

salmon farm occupation

Fish farms occupied!

(Clayoquot Action is based in Tofino. We occasionally travel to other regions when relevant to our campaigns to protect Clayoquot Sound from mining, oil spills and salmon farms. For example, Imperial Metals’ 2014 Mount Polley disaster, and ongoing protests against Kinder Morgan’s pipeline expansion. We recently travelled to northern Vancouver Island to support First Nations occupying fish farms there. Clayoquot Action recognises and supports the indigenous rights and title of the Kwakwaka’wakw First Nations).

A tattered Canadian courtesy flag flaps from the stern of the Norwegian-registered fish transport vessel MV Viktoria Viking. A traditional song rings clear in the early morning breeze—hereditary Chief Ernest Alfred from the ‘Namgis Nation is preparing to board a Marine Harvest fish farm near Alert Bay. Continue reading

Salmon harming harms wild salmon

Sick fish in the Sound

I knew back in the 1980s when Norwegian salmon farming companies began to move to Canada that it would not be good for the BC coast. This concern was confirmed when Patrick Moore, Greenpeace cofounder turned anti-environmentalist, showed up at a public meeting in Vancouver to defend the fledgling industry. Back then I was (rightly) concerned that they would be located in the remote bays and inlets I loved to explore by kayak. It was many years before we began to fully understand the ecological impacts.

Disease transfer from farmed to wild salmon is dangerously easy
One of the big fears is the transfer of diseases from farmed to wild salmon. When you understand the mechanism of transfer, the implications are chilling. It came out during Canada’s 2010 Cohen Commission that an infected farm can shed up to 65 billion viral particles per hour. BC’s big tides cause strong currents, which can spread these viral particles far and wide. Remember, fish breath through gills, so the water they swim through comes in direct contact with their blood and voila—those viral particles are in the wild fish! Continue reading

Big summer for wild salmon!

It was a big summer for wild salmon. Captain Paul Watson and the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society donated their vessel, the R/V Martin Sheen, to BC biologist Alexandra Morton. Operation Virus Hunter was launched! The goal was to track farm salmon viruses and audit salmon farms along the Fraser wild salmon migration route.

Things ramped up in August when the Musgamagw Dzawada’enuxw chiefs (pictured above at a Vancouver rally) issued an eviction notice to all salmon farms in their territory, including Cermaq, the same Norwegian company operating in Clayoquot Sound. The Nation has been opposing salmon farms in their territory for decades. This summer Band Councillor Melissa Willie instructed by Chief Willie Moon to climb aboard a salmon farm to request a sample of the farm fish for testing. Their request was denied. Continue reading

Mass die-off at Clayoquot farms

The call came in at the end of a busy day last week: ‘Cermaq is experiencing a mass die-off at two of their farms in Clayoquot Sound’. By early morning the next day we had assembled a volunteer boat driver and photographer, sourced a donated water taxi, and raised the funds to fuel the boat and hire a videographer complete with drone. We set off in anticipation.

The first farm we got to didn’t seem to have any unusual activity, other than the whole Herbert Inlet was a weird murky turquoise. An employee boated over to photograph us, and a polite exchange followed. ‘We’re not sure what this colour is’, he said. ‘We’ve been seeing it for six weeks—could be Chryso’ (shorthand for Chrysochromulina, a species of algae).

The second farm we reached was the Millar Channel farm, just kilometres north of the site evicted by Ahousaht First Nations, after it was occupied by the Yaakswiis Warriors last September. There was a hum of activity: workers tossing dead salmon into totes, which were lifted and dumped into semi-trailers designed to haul away animal remains. The tubes sucking the dead fish (morts) from the pens were getting plugged up with the sheer numbers, and divers were in the pens unplugging them. Continue reading

Salmon farm slaughters 15 sea lions

Norwegian-owned Cermaq Canada conducted a marine mammal massacre at a Clayoquot Sound salmon farm last December. The federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) recently released their Authorized Marine Mammal Control Activities data, showing that between October and December 2015, fifteen California Sea Lions were shot by Cermaq at their Binns Island salmon farm. The wildlife was threatening Cermaq’s open-net pen facility. Continue reading

cermaq demo in oslo norway

Tide change in Norway

On the final day in Oslo, the Wild Salmon Delegation met with Cermaq, the Norwegian company with 15 salmon farm sites in Clayoquot Sound UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. We visited Cermaq to share with them the reasons why the Delegation had come to Norway; and to discuss our perspective on the similarities and differences between British Columbia and Norway, the emerging consensus that open-net salmon farming is a dinosaur technology, and the tide change unfolding daily in major Norwegian media. Continue reading

Oslo Love Locks Bridge

Wild salmon of Oslo

The magic begins once you’re underway. You can’t plan for it, but you can prepare. I know this from personal experience, having been on several overseas environmental delegations to Japan and Germany in years past. It is no different this time with the Wild Salmon Delegation to Norway. Continue reading

On to Norway!

Clayoquot Action will be travelling to Norway this January to put pressure on Norwegian salmon farming giant Cermaq. We’ll deliver a clear message: get your polluting fish farms out of the pristine waters of Clayoquot Sound!

The team: Bonny Glambeck & Dan Lewis from Clayoquot Action and John Rampanen from Ahousaht and Kelsemaht First Nations. You can help send us north of the Arctic Circle to Alta, to attend a wild salmon conference where we’ll meet with the President of the indigenous Sami Parliament and build alliances with the cutting edge of Norway’s wild salmon movement. Then on to Bergen, the global capital of salmon farming, to meet Norwegians working to get salmon farms out of Norway’s waters, and to the capital of Norway to deliver a petition from Alexandra Morton asking Norway to divest from dirty salmon farming companies. Continue reading

Unprecedented fish farm win!

A meteor shot thru the pre-dawn sky, burning longer than any I’ve ever witnessed. Was it a sign that something was about to happen?

We were up early to head north to Ahousaht territory to witness the removal of Cermaq’s new fish farm from a place called Yaakswiis, on the shore of Flores Island. The facility had been occupied by members of Ahousaht First Nations for 13 days, until the company finally agreed to remove the floats—at first light on Monday, September 21. Continue reading