Proposed Salmon Farm Puts Wild Fish At Risk

Part of a cage being crushed on a beach less than 4 km. from the proposed site, on Dec. 6, 2010, on Long Island, Nova Scotia.
Christine Callaghan

In accordance with Canada's Environment Assessment Act, the Atlantic Salmon Federation (ASF) has registered with Transport Canada its opposition to allowing the introduction into St. Mary's Bay of sea cages that will contain one million salmon. The Bay is located in western Nova Scotia at the outer tip of the Bay of Fundy. The site is owned by Kelly Cove Salmon Ltd. of St. George, NB.

"Our concern," said Lewis Hinks, Director of Nova Scotia Programs for ASF, "is focused on the risk that aquaculture in this area would impose on endangered wild Atlantic salmon populations.

The Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC) assessed the wild Atlantic salmon populations of the Outer Bay of Fundy (OBoF) and Southern Uplands as endangered in its November, 2010 Wildlife Species Assessment report. The report also confirmed the endangered status of Inner Bay of Fundy (IBoF) salmon populations, which were listed in 2003. COSEWIC cites the "negative effects of interbreeding or ecological interactions with escaped domestic salmon from fish farms" as being key threats to endangered wild salmon populations.

Jonathan Carr, ASF's Director of Research and the Environment, said, "Research indicates that escaped farmed salmon do enter rivers and spawn with wild salmon, which results in the progeny being less able to undertake and survive the rigors of migration, which could contribute to the loss of wild runs."

"The aquaculture industry recently reported an escape of 33,000 from a cage site off Grand Manan, which is located in New Brunswick directly across from St. Mary's Bay," continued Mr. Hinks. "The St. Mary's Bay site would be very open to wave action from the open Atlantic to the south. There is very real potential for cage break up, and the resultant escape of large numbers of salmon."

"It would be prudent for Transport Canada to exercise the precautionary approach and reject any further development of the aquaculture industry given the recognized threats to endangered wild Atlantic salmon," concluded Mr. Hinks.

The Atlantic Salmon Federation is dedicated to the conservation, protection and restoration of wild Atlantic salmon and the ecosystems on which their well being and survival depend.

ASF has a network of seven regional councils (New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Newfoundland and Labrador, Prince Edward Island, Quebec, Maine and Western New England). The regional councils cover the freshwater range of the Atlantic salmon in Canada and the United States.

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