Ocean-based salmon disaster too big to ignore

Published on May 29, 2014

Please allow me space to comment on the interview printed May 14, 2014, with the representative from the Newfoundland and Labrador Aquaculture Industry Association (NAIA) regarding the hundreds of thousands of dead, rotting salmon stuffed into putrefied open-net pens along our south coast.

In January, NAIA tried to convince us that their new Bay Management Plan was going to lead to suddenly sustainable self-governing salmon production.

What we see, instead, is nothing short of an eco-cidal aquacide disaster:

A) Smashed-up pens and debris drifting around our bays to damage fishing vessels, tangle props, cause snowmobile accidents and near fatalities, and kill marine mammals and wildlife.

B) A lack of testing and monitoring of caged and wild fish.

C) Thousands of ice blocks cut into the net-pen tops with oil spraying chainsaws leaving a big baited, open-water oil slick for marine birds and eagles;

D) Over 700 four-foot commercial fish tubs of rotting salmon removed by divers during mid winter and shipped to Barry Group Inc.’s Burgeo rendering plant for re-use into some human product.

E) Harbour seals with their lower jaws removed by the abnormal levels of sharks taking the fish right out of their mouths;

F) (For fail) an ever-growing number of 100-pound crates of lobster ruined from having eaten the rancid salmon grease now choking the shorelines, coves and lobster traps in our once pristine bays from the untold hundreds of thousands of putrefied salmon left all winter and spring.

What a first quarter! After the massive disasters, bankruptcies, etc. of 2011, 2012 and 2013, we can just imagine what the rest of 2014 holds.

NAIA fails to convince us they could not clean up their mess due to a lack of access to the cages caused by winter ice. They fail to mention how divers gathered the 700 plus tubs of rotted salmon mid-winter through the ice, or how the owners fed the caged fish through the ice.

In the middle of a disease outbreak and nonexistent testing, NAIA wants us to believe the fish were perfectly healthy and froze to death in some pens, but not others nearby — and not all of them froze to death?

Moreover, this also occurred in Nova Scotia without any ice? How do the salmon ever survive in the Davis Strait off Greenland all winter?

This conflicting logic is baffling until one remembers there are only three diseases (of the over 50 affecting salmon) that the industry gets compensated for.

Workers are exposing that the mortalities were likely exacerbated by the lack of oxygen from plugged netting and from feces piled up from living fish eating the rotting salmon and their own feces and getting even sicker. This is progress?

Excessive taxpayers’ compensation, tons of pesticides going into our bays, escapees, lice and disease outbreaks, wildlife kills, lack of transparency by government and their co-investors, and ocean grease pots created by rotting salmon all add to the disaster we have in this industry.

Who is overseeing ocean-based salmon farming?

Our governments clearly are not. It’s time to bring in an independent body to clean up this mess — otherwise, it’s eco-cidial aquacide as usual, thanks to government’s handmaiden’s role in industry’s profit-driven agenda.

Bill Bryden

Lumsden