Clayoquot Action

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Wild salmon in Clayoquot Sound are rapidly sliding towards extinction—only 2 Chinook salmon returned to spawn in Tofino Creek last year. We’re working hard to save wild salmon!

Fish farms are having major impacts on wild salmon populations. But momentum is building to get salmon farms out of Clayoquot Sound. We need you to help to make this happen.

Clayoquot Action is a longstanding defender of what makes this place so special. Our founders have over 35 years experience in local waters.

Support this campaign to help keep Clayoquot Sound wild and majestic. These are salmon forests. We are salmon people.

Clayoquot Salmon Investigation (CSI) is our salmon farm watchdog program. During COVID the Department of Fisheries has cut monitoring, making this grassroots program more important than ever before. And now, Cermaq (a subsidiary of Mitsubishi Corp.) has towed a new experimental fish farm into Millar Channel near Ahousaht, posing new threats that must be monitored and exposed.

Retrieving farmed fish samples from Cermaq’s Hydrolicer on a fish farm near Tofino

Our fish farm monitoring program, Clayoquot Salmon Investigation (CSI) gets out on the water near Tofino. We keep an eye on this polluting industry, which otherwise operates out of sight, out of mind. We’ve been able to expose stories which no-one would have heard about, such as mass die-offs, viral outbreaks, sea lice epidemics; and we get those stories in the news to build political pressure.

Our Going Viral project (powered up by our 2019 Indiegogo!) was able to expose the fact that all but one salmon farm tested in Clayoquot Sound was contaminated with the deadly Norwegian Piscine orthoreovirus (PRV).

We travel deep up Clayoquot Sound, year-round in all weather, to collect samples and monitor what’s happening on the ground. This year, we’ll be paying special attention to the new experimental farm, and how we can minimize its threat to wild salmon.

Your donation will power up CSI by putting gas in volunteers’ boats, chartering boats when necessary, sending samples to the lab for testing, and helping with the costs of equipment and video production to help spread the word.

Donate generously and get great perks in return!

Experimental Fish Farm Arrives in Clayoquot Sound

Bonny was cooking an elaborate brunch on a Sunday afternoon when the phone rang. It was Lennie John from Ahousaht First Nation. Tsimka Martin from Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation had been hiking up the hill at Cox Bay with her partner John when they spotted something bizarre-looking being towed north, past the Lennard Island lighthouse, into Clayoquot Sound. They realized that this was Cermaq’s new experimental salmon farm, what Cermaq calls a Semi Closed Containment System (SCCS).

Tsimka called Lennie who called Bonny. Cancel frittata! Start scrambling eggs, and scrambling to get our cameras and gear ready. A quick bite later, Lennie pulls up at our beach. We hop off the rocks into his boat and zoom off towards Tofino to pick up Tsimka and John. What is going to happen?

It’s overcast and calm; no fog. A light rain begins to fall as we motor out to intercept the apparatus, which is now inside Wickaninnish Island opposite Tin Wis. It looks like they are swapping tugboats out; the floating framework is slowly starting to move again as the original tug starts heading back to Tofino.

Bonny has been frantically mustering our Clayoquot Salmon Investigation volunteers. Sure enough, a couple of teams are able to mobilize. Keegan and Storm show up first; then Lee with a couple of friends in another boat. The beginnings of a flotilla forming up! 

Polluting poop and pathogens

There’s a reason the founders of the Nuuchahnulth Salmon Alliance and Clayoquot Action are alarmed by this arrival. The device is experimental, and holds out little promise for wild salmon. It’s not clear exactly what will be contained by this device. Pumps will be used to move an Olympic swimming pool in and out of the pen—eight every hour. That’s almost two hundred swimming pools a day, every day.

There will be no way to filter out viral particles or other pathogens—and Cermaq admits they have the deadly Norwegian Piscine orthoreovirus (PRV) on their farms. (To be clear, they do not admit it is from the Atlantic; nor that it is deadly. Their story is that PRV is from BC, and harmless to wild salmon. Simply not true.)

It came out during Cermaq’s presentation to Tofino Council that this device will not even filter out the fish poop. A fish farm containing half a million fish emits the equivalent sewage of a city of 150,000 people! And Cermaq has 14 operations here in Clayoquot Sound UNESCO Biosphere Region.

With the federal government having promised to remove salmon farms from BC waters by 2025, Cermaq’s SCCS is a step in the wrong direction, and a waste of their money. Of course they’re not stupid or planning to waste money. Which means this is a cynical attempt to preempt the requirement to remove their farms from the ocean with a half-measure designed to confuse the public who might believe this thing is somehow better than a standard open-net pen salmon farm.

As the rain clouds thickened, darkening the late afternoon, our flotilla headed back to Tofino. We were there to bear witness together, which felt good. This story is far from over…

Take action now—please sign this petition and share with your friends:

Watch the Video in the link below: Semi-Closed Containment Fish Farm Enters Clayoquot Sound

Dan Lewis is Executive Director of Clayoquot Action.

Sea Lice Push Wild Salmon to the Brink

Time is running out for wild salmon. Open-net pen salmon farms have pushed wild salmon stocks to the brink of extinction. This short film follows researchers on a journey into Clayoquot Sound UNESCO Biosphere Region, where they look at the devastating impacts of sea lice from fish farms on wild juvenile salmon. For the third year in a row, these vulnerable young salmon are carrying fatal loads of lice.

 

 

Sea lice proliferate on crowded salmon farms and spread to wild salmon through the open-net pens. Juvenile wild salmon, often too young to have formed scales, are extremely vulnerable to sea lice, which they would not likely encounter in the absence of fish farms. One louse per gram of body weight is a lethal load—and there was an average of 3.1 lice on juvenile wild salmon sampled during the 2020 spring outmigration..

Tell this government to remove all BC fish farms now: salmonpeople.ca/fishfarms-out

Hello Nova Scotia, Goodbye Cermaq

By the time we touched down in Halifax back in February, the ice storm had passed. The power was still off in some parts of the city, and a bitter wind whipped our coats as we hailed a ride downtown. It was the ‘before time’ and my travelling companion and I were unaware that in little more then two weeks Canada would be in Covid-19 shut down. But for now we were free to travel…

Global fish farm giant Cermaq was planning an expansion into Nova Scotia. Community concern was mounting as grassroots groups got organized ahead of Cermaq’s public open house sessions. Cermaq called their outreach “Hello Nova Scotia”. Ecology Action Centre had invited Karen Wristen (Living Oceans Society), Bob Chamberlin (First Nations Wild Salmon Alliance) and me on a speaking tour of Nova Scotia communities. We planned to bring lessons learned from the BC salmon farm fight. Read More

Fish farms want to break rules during COVID!

In her 2007 book The Shock Doctrine, Naomi Klein describes how corporate elites worldwide have repeatedly used “the public’s disorientation following a collective shock—wars, market crashes, or natural disasters—to push through radical pro-corporate measures.” The 2008 financial collapse would vividly illustrate the dynamics Klein described. The Wall Street giants whose reckless and criminal behaviour ushered in that crisis ended up even bigger and more powerful than before the crisis began.

During the global COVID-19 pandemic, when most people are doing everything in their power to stay home and ‘flatten the curve’, the salmon farming industry appears to be going flat out. Indeed, the industry is actually using the pandemic to ask for regulatory flexibility, financial bailouts, and even enhanced access for ‘front line’ workers to COVID-19 testing and safety equipment. Read More

Harmful Norwegian salmon virus found on Clayoquot fish farms

The goal of our ‘Going Viral’ Report was to establish the presence or absence of piscine orthoreovirus (PRV) on salmon farms in Clayoquot Sound. Samples were collected adjacent to stocked fish farms and sent to the Atlantic Veterinary College for testing by Dr. Fred Kibenge, one of the world’s leading salmon virologists.

The results: we found 90% of Cermaq’s active farms were PRV-infected; 100% of Creative Salmon’s farms were infected as well.

Wild Chinook salmon in Clayoquot Sound are on the brink of extinction. Two federal court judges have ruled in three cases that DFO’S policy of putting farmed salmon into open-net pens without screening for PRV is unlawful, yet DFO continues to allow the transfer of PRV-infected farm salmon. Are we about to witness another collapse on DFO’s watch—like the Atlantic Cod fishery?

Canada’s Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) continues to deny the origin of this virus, claiming it is endemic to British Columbia and harmless to salmon. No one has come forward with a genetic sequence to back up this claim.

Yet the evidence that PRV is harmful to wild salmon is mounting—a study by DFO’s own genomic lab with the Pacific Salmon Foundation found that PRV-1 in Pacific Chinook is strongly associated with the rupture of red blood cells, overwhelming the vital organs, leading to jaundice, organ failure and death (Di Cicco et al. 2018). The authors concluded “migratory chinook salmon may be at more than a minimal risk of disease from exposure to the high levels of PRV occurring on salmon farms”.

Creative Salmon, operating in Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation territory near Tofino, is rearing Pacific Chinook salmon in open-net pens.

Of particular concern, PRV-1a is replicating in Creative Salmon farms, adapting to a Pacific species (Chinook), and spreading through the waters of Clayoquot Sound.

The Minister of Fisheries and Oceans has been clearly mandated by the Prime Minister to remove open- net pen salmon farms from our waters by 2025”, said MP Gord Johns (NDP Fisheries Critic). “Coastal communities are expecting her to report on the necessary actions that will be taken to achieve this objective. This has to include an immediate halt to the transfer of PRV-infected fish into BC fish farms.”

Click here to read the report.

We can stop the spread of this virus. Tell the government to immediately stop the transfer of PRV infected salmon into BC waters today. Sign the petition now.

 

2019—a year of momentum for wild salmon!

It’s been an eventful year for salmon farm campaigns in Clayoquot Sound. Please take a moment to check out a video summary of the year—and remember, this video features only our Clayoquot Salmon Investigation (CSI) program—without even mentioning the Salmon Forest Salmon People education program or the successful launch of Get Wild! Your support has helped make all this happen—thank you!

The year 2019 is ending on a high note: the federal Liberals have promised to remove salmon farms from BC waters by 2025. That timeline might not be fast enough for wild salmon—but it is so much better than a timeline of ’never’, which was the status quo until 3 months ago. Clayoquot Action will continue working hard to prevent viruses and sea lice from harming wild salmon in the interim.

Tofino’s MP Gord Johns (NDP Fisheries critic) pushed the government to include their promise in the Mandate Letter for the new Fisheries Minister Bernadette Jordan. Johns has met with Jordan and other Liberal and Opposition MPs to demand immediate legislation, so this Liberal promise is kept. Thank you to everyone who signed Clayoquot Action’s petition to that effect—you are making a difference.

Together we’ve made serious gains for wild salmon in 2019—let’s keep the momentum going in 2020 to protect wild salmon!

Mass die-off on 3 Tofino fish farms

 

Cermaq is experiencing a mass die-off at three of their salmon farm operations in the Clayoquot Sound UNESCO Biosphere Region, north of Tofino, British Columbia, in the territory of Ahousaht First Nations.

On Thursday November 14 at 9pm, Cermaq was observed loading three empty bio-waste trailers onto a barge and heading off into the stormy night. At the same time, three fully loaded bio-waste trailers left Tofino. Read More

Cermaq Fails to Control Sea Lice, Despite New Hydrolicer

Co-founder Bonny Glambeck collects samples beside Cermaq’s Hydrolicer in Millar Channel

Cermaq is still having problems with sea lice on their Clayoquot Sound salmon farms. Just last week (mid-September), lice numbers at their Dixon Bay open-net pen operation hit 10.3 lice per fish—more than three times over the threshold for treatment. Despite trying a variety of new treatment methods, Cermaq is failing to control sea lice.

Read More

Going Viral

Gazing out from the village of Tofino towards the rainforest-covered mountains of Clayoquot Sound, the view is spectacular. But who would imagine that just out of sight of town, 20 fish farms are tucked away up the emerald inlets, quietly polluting the pristine waters?

One of the challenges of rearing animals in close quarters is that disease can quickly spread through the population, wreaking havoc. We’ve all heard of avian flu outbreaks. Parents who send their kids to school understand this dynamic all too well.

There is a harmful, highly-contagious disease plaguing salmon farms here in BC. It comes from Norway, where open-net pen salmon farming first began decades ago. British Columbia is lagging behind Norway, but we are beginning to experience the same unsolvable problems they do. Norway has nearly destroyed their own wild salmon runs; but the Pacific Northwest still has marvellous wild salmon runs, unrivalled anywhere else in the world. Read More