Numbers show aquaculture is harming salmon rivers

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Well, well, well; I simply can’t believe it — the Newfoundland Aquaculture Industry Association finally admitting they are destroying the wild salmon stocks. It’s about time they came clean.
Funny thing though, they don’t seem to realize it yet.

In her April 23 letter to The Telegram, the association’s executive director, Miranda Pryor, clearly stated “we currently farm in an area representing less than two per cent of the entire 17,542 kilometres of coastline in Newfoundland and Labrador.”

Yes that is true Ms. Pryor, and it is only in this area of our coastline that wild salmon stocks have been decimated.

Annual salmon returns to the Conne River in this area have gone from 12,000 fish 15 years ago (before any aquaculture) to 2,000 fish today (after 15 years of aquaculture).

That is a six-fold decrease in the number of wild salmon. There is no other salmon river in this province that even comes remotely close to a decline like that.

Most other rivers are holding their own or slightly increasing. It is only the Conne that has been decimated like this. And why do you think?

 Coincidence you say? Hardly — when every other river in the world that has or had an open-pen aquaculture cage at its mouth suffered a similar fate as the Conne.

It has happened in New Brunswick, British Columbia, Scotland, Ireland, Chile and Norway; and now it’s happening here.

And if the provincial government has its way with aquaculture expansion it will happen to another 23 wild salmon rivers on our south coast.

Why can’t we learn from others and why does the aquaculture association continue to deny a — yes — scientific fact.

And a few other misrepresentations from Ms. Pryor’s letter:

‰ She states that the Department of Fisheries and Oceans knows why wild salmon have failed to increase since the commercial moratorium of 1992 and she lists numerous reasons why. Truth is, DFO neither knows nor cares about our wild salmon. If they did, surely they would have done something by now, wouldn’t they? It has been over 20 years.

‰ She implies that salmon anglers are against aquaculture. Nothing could be further from the truth. Without the aquaculture industry, the black market for poached, wild salmon would go through the roof. It’s bad enough now even with aquaculture salmon. What the salmon anglers are against is the aquaculture industry polluting our oceans and killing our wild salmon, which they are doing quite effectively.

The solution is simple for both groups — the aquaculture industry needs to move to land-based, closed containment pens.

And finally, a bit of advice for Ms. Pryor, the  aquaculture industry and the provincial and federal governments: the future of salmon aquaculture lies in the farming of genetically modified salmon in closed, land-based pens.

These salmon grow twice as fast as the salmon do now and at half the cost. The first ones on board will dominate the future salmon aquaculture market. And only then will I go back to eating any farmed salmon.

Rick Maddigan

St. John’s

Organizations: Department of Fisheries and Oceans

Geographic location: Newfoundland and Labrador, Conne River, New Brunswick British Columbia Scotland Ireland Chile Norway

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Recent comments

  • R Moran
    January 04, 2015 - 20:06

    The number of returning salmon to the Miramichi River went from 190,000 in the 90's to 12,000 in 2014. There are no aquaculture farms to blame for this decline but it would be so much easier if there were. Correct Mr. Maddigan?

  • Henry Jefford
    May 06, 2014 - 14:54

    I can see how a large fish stock being grown in inclosed fish pounds can create a problem with the fish, Where the fish is feeding and swimming breathing in the same water as thousands of other Fish, But if those fish pounds were only used to hatch the fish eggs and when the young fish reach a desired size then release them into the rivers or bays or coves where they can grow and replenish the fish stock !

  • Henry Jefford
    April 29, 2014 - 19:22

    I think that the fish hatchery should be used to hatch fish eggs and when the young tom cods reach a desired stage then release them into selected bays or coves where they may stand a better chance of survival, A publication I picked up at the DEPT of Fisheries 30+ years ago called" ONE IN A MILLION" that tells of the survival rate of a fish egg to become an adult cod fish ! But if the fish hatchery was used to hatch the eggs and when the small tom cods reach a desired stage then release them into small bays or coves where they might survive from ONE IN A Million To MANY HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS in A MILLION, This could also be used for all types of fish,

  • Concerned Nlder
    April 27, 2014 - 08:18

    The previous poster said it all. These farm raised salmon are laden with chemicals and toxins not fit for human consumption and our natural wild stocks of lobster/cod and salmon (just to name a few) are suffering. The waters in the Coast of Bays are littered with debris from these open pen feedlot farms and the corporate giants do nothing to remedy the problems they cause. Inform yourselves people. Become aware of he issues, and what you are feeding your families!

  • Addycat
    April 26, 2014 - 12:40

    Grow salmon on land in closed containers is only part of the answer-the fish must be fed natural sustainable food-why can't we grow feeder fish for these farmed salmon? this would create more jobs! The oceans are being raped of all life-scientists say if we keep going the way we are by 2050 the ocean will be depleted...that's only 35 yrs away!! We need to make a global change in farming fish asap! Keep fighting the good fight peeps!! We can do this!! there is a way for both sides to succeed!!

  • South Coast
    April 26, 2014 - 10:08

    I am not a salmon fisherman, but I do like to eat healthy fish from our ocean. Either Miranda Prior is not in the know or she is in denial mode, but the aquaculture industry is contaminating all wild stocks on our coast. We cannot get healthy lobsters anymore from the Coast of Bays. The lobsters in our bay that are caught near our cages are full of medicated feed. You can smell it, taste it and see it in the lobsters. The Newfoundland Aquaculture industry Assoc. (N.A.I.A.) have been asked by locals many months ago to see if the lobster fishers could adjust their season to ensure that lobsters are not caught while the salmon are being fed the chemicals. The over spray of chemicals is being eaten by the lobsters and all other species. Prior has not gotten back to the group as to whether she has contacted DFO, the local fishers, or anyone in regards to this. We have a choice whether to eat farmed salmon, but how do you label lobsters caught in the wild that are fed the feed with chemicals in it. When we catch cod, the bellies are full of feed from the cages, the mackeral are now smelling of it. We have a five fish per day limit during the food fishery and many times we have had to throw it all away as it smells bad from the feed. This is becoming expensive for us who take in the recreational fishery. What will happen when the people who buy the cod and lobsters from the fisher people find out that the fish caught in the coast of bays is no longer the healthy fish that we used to eat? People deserve to know. It has been suggested that the NAIA work to have the industry post when they are medicating so that people can ensure they are not buying contaminated fish. Salmon has a period of about 70 days off the feed before it is safe to be consumed by humans. The lobsters, cod and other species that eat this medicated feed is eaten the very day the fish are caught. This is unsafe for anyone and there should be a warning in place by DFO, the aquaculture industry and the Canada Food inspection agency to warn people of the dangers of eating the wild stocks. This would be common sense as the Feds ensure the salmon are not eaten while the chemicals are in them, so what difference does it make if we eat cod or salmon that are full of the same chemicals? None, it is all poison due to the consumption of this feed. In addition to the controls in place, site managers are still administering chemicals without the monitering by the vetenarians and and the Can. Food Inspection |Agc. Prior does not care about this it seems or she simply cannot handle such a problem with all the interference of the companies involved. So I would suggest one way or another it should be dealt with and it seems the only other way would be to have all Hermitage Bay fishing stopped immediately. The health of the pregnant women, children and all of us is important. Prior herself is a mother and would she eat this fish while carrying a child? Not a chance.

  • Think Research
    April 26, 2014 - 08:56

    Ms Pryor is just following what the tobacco industry and the german politicians of 1939-1945 done. Repeat lies until enough gullible people believe it. Luckily, my grandfather hunted Nazi subs from the skies above our Bays so more than DFO/DFA and government sponsored Industry gone awry can have a Say. And papers like the Evening Telegram have the guts to print it. WELL DONE Mr. Maddigan!

  • Harvey
    April 26, 2014 - 06:24

    The real problem with wild salmon stocks is the cruel and inhuman treatment of wild salmon that sanctioned by what we call the "hook and release" recreational salmon fishery. What other fish or animal is harassed to the point of exhaustion while it is migrating to its spawning grounds? Harassed you ask? Well in summary..... we entice the salmon to bite into a piece of sharp wire covered with feathers. Once it bites into it we set the hook by driving it into the salmons flesh. We then keep the line tight to keep the hook imbedded and we proceed to tire the salmon before we can haul it to shore. Once exhausted, we take the salmon out of its natural watery environment and while it breaths a foreign substance (air) we pose for some pictures. After the pictures we smile at our level of success and then throw the salmon back into the water. Sometimes it survives and eventually spawns but many times it dies before it can reproduce. We do this for what? For FUN of course! What a sick and demented activity!

    • Proof
      April 26, 2014 - 14:43

      You don't have a clue !! Look at C&R in many rivers. For example the Flower's in Labrador! Since C&R was introduced the numbers have soared! Where's you proof to the contrary!!

    • Harvey
      April 28, 2014 - 05:46

      @ Proof..... you want proof that it is a cruel and inhumane act? Try it with your family pet (your dog or cat). Try it and see how quickly your ass would be before a judge!

    • Harvey
      April 28, 2014 - 06:17

      @Proof....... You don't think it is painful and disruptive to the salmon? Lets just say that just as you were about to eat a BBQ'd steak next to your swimming pool and some sick demented person barged into you space, stuck a wire hook into you cheek and then dragged you around your pool for 45 minutes..... you don't think that would be painful and disruptive? You would chomp down on your steak afterwards just as if nothing happened?