Tagged: Norway

Clayoquot Salmon with lice

Clayoquot emergency drug trial

Norwegian salmon farming giant Cermaq has a salmon lice problem on their Clayoquot Sound salmon farms. Documents released through Access to Information indicate Cermaq obtained an Emergency Drug Release to use the insecticide Lufenuron to control salmon lice in the Clayoquot Sound UNESCO Biosphere Region.

Last year saw salmon lice numbers in Clayoquot spike to levels never before seen in British Columbia, up to 55 lice per farmed fish—eighteen times the threshold for treatment set out by Department of Fisheries (DFO). Independent monitoring found wild salmon juveniles had lice counts as high as 50 per fish.

Cermaq is unable to control their salmon lice epidemic in Clayoquot Sound. Their 2018 lice outbreak likely devastated last year’s wild salmon cohort, and their 2019 numbers are already up to 5 times the DFO limit, right at the beginning of the wild salmon out-migration window.

In 2018 Cermaq had their Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC) eco-cert suspended on 3 Clayoquot farms, and voluntarily culled the fish on their Plover Point farm as the lice infestation there was uncontrollable.

2018 Clayoquot lice numbers “shockingly ugly”
A DFO document obtained through ATIP refers to 2018 Clayoquot lice numbers as “shockingly ugly”. The ATIP document further states “Theoretically [Lufenuron] should prevent lice colonization up to the beginning of the outmigration window, but this will be our first field trial of it in BC”.

Lufenuron is not approved for use in Norway, Cermaq’s home country—the manufacturer failed to get approval. The application was withdrawn before it was rejected—the reasons for withdrawing the application are shrouded in secrecy.

Norwegian fish farm companies are losing about US $2 billion annually, due to the high cost of lice treatment, and the loss of up to 20% of their fish each year. If Lufenuron was the magic bullet to control sea lice, why would the Norwegian government not have approved it? Some very serious concerns must have been raised.

There are human health concerns with use of the drug, which resides in the fat of treated animals. The flesh of treated fish cannot be consumed by humans for 350 days after treatment. This raises questions around how Lufenuron-treated fish will be disposed of in the event of a mass die-off, and in the event of an escape, whether Lufenuron-treated fish might be eaten by a predator which could later be caught for human consumption.

Lufenuron kills crustaceans
Lufenuron acts as a chitin synthesis inhibitor; it kills crustaceans like fleas and lice by preventing them from growing a new exoskeleton after moulting. This raises questions about its impact on aquatic organisms in the marine environment—particularly crustaceans like crab, shrimp and prawns, as well as molluscs and cephalopods (octopus). Although the drug will be administered in freshwater hatcheries, it stays in the fish for a very long time. How much will be excreted by fish into the ocean? How long will Lufenuron persist once it settles beneath the fish farm? And how readily will it be accessible to sea creatures?

Cermaq’s solution to their lice problem for 2019 was supposed to be the Hydrolicer—a boat which removes lice from farmed salmon using a stream of pressurized seawater. But Cermaq’s is not yet in operation—although it was scheduled to arrive before the wild salmon outmigration window started on March 1st. Hydrolicers only work in combination with drugs; and come with their own challenges: the procedure is stressful for farmed fish, and can lead to die-offs and disease outbreaks, increasing the risk of disease transfer to wild salmon.

The most important thing here is to protect this year’s wild salmon smolts. That would require having lice numbers under control during the out-migration window from March to June. Clearly Cermaq has been unable to achieve this.

It’s time to demand that Fisheries Minister Jonathan Wilkinson take a stand for wild salmon. He needs to stop approving toxic chemicals for use on open-net pen salmon farms, and order a harvest of lice-infested farmed salmon immediately, before they can harm juvenile wild salmon currently migrating out from rivers into the ocean.

Show Minister Wilkinson that you care! Click here to send your letter today.

Dan Lewis is Executive Director of Clayoquot Action.

Clayoquot sea lice epidemic

In 2018 the Clayoquot Sound UNESCO Biosphere Region saw salmon lice reach levels never seen before on the BC coast.

The source of these pests was the open-net pen salmon farms which clutter local wild salmon migration routes. Because salmon farms rear fish in crowded conditions, they act like lice incubators. The lice are then free to pass through the open nets to infest baby wild salmon, which would not normally encounter lice before they are old enough to have fully developed scales for protection. 

A lice count of three or more per fish is the threshold for treatment on salmon farms. At one point, one of Norwegian-owned Cermaq’s Clayoquot farm sites reported lice levels of 54.7 per fish! With half a million fish per farm, that’s an explosion of 27 million lice—right when 2018’s tiny salmon smolts were migrating out of the rivers to their near-shore nurseries. Continue reading

Fish farms under pressure

Last fall Norwegian-owned salmon farming giant Cermaq applied for a permit to deposit over 2 million litres of pesticides in Clayoquot Sound. Clayoquot Action teamed up with SumOfUs to launch a petition opposing Cermaq’s application. Over 34,000 people signed that petition. The Tofino Chamber of Commerce and other stakeholders wrote letters opposing the application. The story hit the media—and the pressure was on!

Cermaq’s application not approved; province-wide sea lice review launched
The good news is that as a result of all this effort, Cermaq’s pesticide application has not been approved. Thanks to everyone who signed the petition and wrote letters—it worked! Not only that, but the province will be looking at all sea lice treatments on BC fish farms… 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

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

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

Mining harms wild salmon

The Wild Salmon Delegation came to Norway to campaign against Cermaq’s open-net pen feedlots in Clayoquot Sound UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. But as the Nuu-chah-nulth First Nations saying goes, hišukiš c̓aawaak—everything is connected.

Yesterday I found myself sitting inside an indigenous Sami lavvu (a teepee-like traditional dwelling) with Ahousaht First Nations citizen John Rampanen. Imagine our surprise to learn that the reindeer herder with us Continue reading

New salmon farm approved in Clayoquot Sound

On the Friday afternoon before the BC Day weekend, the government attempted to bury the news that a new salmon farm had been approved in Clayoquot Sound. Three other new farms were also approved for northern Vancouver Island.

The license was issued to Cermaq, a Norwegian-based company belonging to Mitsubishi. If installation is completed, the new feedlot would be located along the shores of Flores Island (pictured below), in Ahousaht First Nations territory. Flores Island is cloaked in intact ancient cedar rainforest, with many creeks supporting runs of wild salmon. Continue reading

Salmon farm expansion in Clayoquot Sound

Dan Lewis is Executive Director of Clayoquot Action.

2 more salmon farms in Clayoquot?
Cermaq Canada, a Norwegian-owned company, has applied for 2 new salmon feedlots in the Clayoquot Sound UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. There are already 21 feedlot sites in Clayoquot.

The new feedlots would be located in Ahousaht First Nations’ territories, one in Millar Channel (on the route to Hot Springs Cove), and one in Herbert Inlet (close to the unlogged Moyeha River which has been protected since 1911 in Strathcona Park). Continue reading