AQUACULTURE AND THE MRSA

The Wild Salmon population faces daunting challenges to their survival rate throughout their journey from rivers to the ocean and returns.  In many of the historic rivers, like the Medway River, salmon populations are now down to approximately 20% of the traditional runs.  The Nova Scotia Government is currently supporting the unprecedented expansion of industrial scale open-pen salmon aquaculture along our shores and some near the mouth of our salmon rivers.  As President of the Medway River Salmon Association, I feel we need to be kept informed on all aquaculture projects as it poses potential threats to the marine environment and wild salmon populations.  In so doing, this will provide our Association with a new site for aquaculture information.   


02 July, 2014

Earlier this year "A Review of the Feasibility of Land-Based Closed-Containment Atlantic Salmon Operations in Nova Scotia" by Gardner Pinfold was released.  Commenting on that study is a thoughtful review by Stewart Lamont, Managing Director, Tangier Lobster Company Limited, June 2014Click here to read his comments.

18 June, 2014

The roundtable final report of the Nova Scotia Aquaculture Regulatory Review Committee his now been released.  Click here to read the report.

04 May, 2014

The Salmon Preservation Association for the Waters of Newfoundland (SPAWN) would endorse a land based Atlantic Salmon farm pilot project in Newfoundland and Labrador.  Read their explanatory document here.

21 January, 2014
The Ecology Action Centre has announced it is going to court over genetically modified salmon.  Click here to read the details.

28 November, 2013


The Canadian Wildlife Federation have just issued a comprehensive overview document about aquaculture.  Entitled "Aquaculture", it can be viewed by clicking here.   

22 November, 2013


The Canadian Wildlife Federation are asking people to sign a pledge on line not to eat open-pen farmed salmon.  Read full details on their site.

17 July, 2013


MRSA today released its aquaculture policy by way of a memorandum:

July 17, 2013

To Whom It May Concern:

The Medway River Salmon Association fully supports all forms of aquaculture provided that the salmon industry adheres to the following:
  • uses technology that eliminates the risks of disease and parasite transfer as well as fish escapes;
  • guarantees untreated waste is not released into the ocean;
  • labels fish as ‘farmed’ so consumers can make informed choices;
  • develops feed for farmed salmon that doesn’t deplete fish stocks around the world;
  • ensures wildlife is not harmed as a result of fish farming;
  • prohibits the use of genetically modified fish;
  • reduces and/or eliminates the use of chemicals, antibiotics and pesticides in fish farming;
  • ensures contaminants in farmed fish don’t exceed levels deemed safe by international standards; and
  • stops locating fish farms in areas opposed by Aboriginal groups or other local communities.
In conclusion, if we develop commerce scale closed containment salmon farms, whether sited on water or land, closed –tank systems can eliminate escapes and greatly reduce the risk of disease and parasite transfer to wild salmon.  In addition it will provide employment opportunities in the rural areas of Nova Scotia.

Yours respectfully,

Horace MacPherson
President,
Mersey River Salmon Association

04 May, 2013
The following media release has just been issued by the Government of Nova Scotia.

FISHERIES/AQUACULTURE--New Aquaculture Regulations to Better Protect Coastal Communities
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The province is protecting coastal communities by making sure aquaculture grows in a sustainable way.  Fisheries and Aquaculture Minister Sterling Belliveau announced a plan today, May 1, to development a new regulatory framework for the aquaculture industry through consultations with Nova Scotians.

"People who live in coastal communities want good jobs, but not at any cost," said Mr. Belliveau. "This government recognizes that the aquaculture industry is an important part of rural communities. By developing strong regulations and enforcement we will help the industry grow in a way that balances economic development and environmental protection."

The work will be led by Dalhousie University law professors and environmental law experts Meinhard Doelle and William Lahey. They will be
advised by an advisory committee chosen to represent stakeholders and community interests including the Mi'kmaq, Aquaculture Association of Nova Scotia, Nova Scotia Salmon Association, Nova Scotia Fisheries Sector Council, Ecology Action Centre and the Union of Nova Scotia Municipalities.

"We look forward to working with the advisory committee, key stakeholders, scientific experts, and members of the public to develop a regulatory framework for aquaculture that best serves the long-term social, environmental and economic interests of the province," said Mr. Doelle.

Mr. Doelle and Mr. Lahey, assisted by the advisory committee and a scientific advisory committee to be struck later, will consider a full range of impacts, benefits and risks that should be addressed through regulation.  They will use a multi-phased process of public and stakeholder consultation, the first phase of which will begin this summer.

"Our members are committed to farming responsibly in Nova Scotia," said Bruce Hancock, executive director of the Aquaculture Association of Nova Scotia. "We believe that clearly written regulations are an important part of sustainable expansion of aquaculture in Nova Scotia and will help build public confidence in our industry."

It is anticipated the department will receive recommendations to develop regulations by the end of 2014.

"From our vantage point, aquaculture regulations are failing to protect Nova Scotian communities and the environment and thus we welcome a comprehensive review of the regulatory system and options going forward," said Ecology Action Centre policy director Mark Butler. "There are sustainable opportunities in aquaculture, but they must not come at the expense of the ecosystem or other marine industries."

The development of regulations for the aquaculture industry was part of the action plan from the province's first aquaculture strategy, released in May 2012. The aquaculture industry generates about $50 million annually.

"Investment in aquaculture can provide meaningful work that will sustain rural communities and maintain their quality of life. It could mean the difference for young people and families who want to remain and thrive in rural and coastal Nova Scotia," said Mr. Belliveau.

The seven members of the advisory committee are:
-- Chief Terry Paul, Membertou, Chief of the Membertou First Nation
-- Bruce Hancock, Halifax, executive director, Aquaculture Association of Nova Scotia
-- Lisa Fitzgerald, Yarmouth, executive director of the Nova Scotia Fisheries Sector Council
-- Karen Traversy, Clam Bay, Halifax Regional Municipality, Coastal Coalition of Nova Scotia
-- Carl Purcell, Dartmouth, past president, Nova Scotia Salmon Association
-- Mark Butler, Halifax, policy director, Ecology Action Centre

A representative of the Union of Nova Scotia Municipalities will be named soon.

15 April, 2013

The released of the video Salmon Wars in mid-2012 provided an excellent overview of the open pen salmon aquaculture issue.  This video has now been augmented by the video Salmon Confidential which provides a focus on government involvement from the viewpoint of marine biologist Alexandra Morton.  Each video is not short but each is worth the investment of time to view.

SALMON WARS
SALMON CONFIDENTIAL

04 March, 2013
Shelburne Harbour in Shelburne County has become a source of aquaculture controversy having been exposed to the long term presence and growth of a number of open-pen sites.  Local resident, Herschel Specter, has picked up the gauntlet, fighting the issue in the courts and the media.  With others, he formed the Friends of Shelburn Harbour.  At the end of 2012 he began to write a series of letters outlining the specifics of his many concerns.  The letters contain a wealth of statistics which he ably presents to show that things as stated by government and industry sources are not what they might seem. Click here to read his series of informative letters.                         

02 March, 2013
The Atlantic Salmon Federation (ASF) and TCFFI believe that land-based closed-containment systems are a cost-effective and environmentally friendly farming method, with the potential to eliminate the use of vaccines, antibiotics, pesticides, and other harsh chemicals in salmon farming. Their goal with this technology is to provide fish farmers and entrepreneurs an opportunity to choose an innovative, alternative method to grow fish – a method which we believe is not only better for the environment, but for business as well.  They recognize, however, that many challenges exist in promoting positive change in the aquaculture industry, and that overcoming the status quo and its inherent resistance to paradigm shifts may take considerable time. Nonetheless, they hope that the myriad benefits of closed containment, water recirculation technologies will speak for themselves, and that industry will embrace these innovations following successful, commercial-scale demonstration of their feasibility.  See their attached final report detailing the results of their closed containment feasibility study.

31 January, 2013

With infectious salmon anemia growing in virulence, and the Canadian Food inspection Agency allowing the sale for human consumption of diseased fish, the Atlantic Salmon Federation has re-issued the call for a moratorium on any new open pen salmon farm licences, and for governments to support closed, land based containment systems.  Click here to view their media release.

19 December, 2012

Christopher Majka is a biologist, environmentalist, policy analyst, and arts advocate. He conducts research on the ecology and biodiversity of beetles. He is a research associate of the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives-NS and a member of the Project Democracy team.  An article of his entitled "Down our throats: Fed-up with salmon feedlots" was published in the December 11, 2012 edition of Rabble.ca.  It provides a good overview of the many downsides to open pen salmon farming with some commentary on its deliterious effects.  Click here to read the article, re-published here by kind permission of Rabble.ca.

24 July, 2012
Here are three video messages pointing out the viral and bacterial consequences of open pen fish farming.  These messages are related but do not have to be viewed in sequence or in one sitting.  The main point of these messages is what occurs under these fish farms will not stay under these farms.  The viruses and bacteria and antibiotics, etc., enter the food chain and are distributed on land and throughout our communities.
ISA video:   http://vimeo.com/44930038
Fish Virus Advisory #6 video:   http://vimeo.com/45511166
Playing With Fire Under Water video:    http://vimeo.com/46199136

13 July, 2012
The following may be of interest to you.  (Links may have limited shelf life).
Aquaculture plan moving forward.  Halifax Chronicle Herald Business Section, July 12, 2012.


08 July, 2012

Parasite-ridden salmon sold in B.C. stores.  See video here. (Link may have a limited shelf life).

04 June, 2012

The Government of Nova Scotia has now released it's Aquaculture Strategy and is inviting comments.

24 May, 2012

A paper forwarded by Karen Crocker of St Mary's Bay Coastal Alliance, entitled "Summary of Scientific Papers on Impacts of Open Net Pen Farming on Wild Populations and the Natural Environment" was recently prepared and is offered here as a factual, well referenced source about aquaculture issues. The paper was by Susanna D. Fuller, PhD., and Heather Grant, BSc., both from the Ecology Action Centre  Marine Issues Committee.

09 May, 2012

The following letter was sent to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency by Mayday Shelburne County.  It expresses well the concerns around open pen fish aquaculture, in particular some of the huge financial costs being borne by the public for the industry's many, predictable failures.

Dr. Brian Evans
Chief Food Safety Officer
Chief Veterinary Officer
CFIA

Dear Dr. Evans,
  The community of Jordan Bay is writing to respectfully request the immediate halt to the lease application by Cooke Aquaculture for open-pen finfish sites for our bay, based on the implications of the Shelburne Harbour quarantine.

  The proximity of Jordan Bay to Shelburne Harbour puts our bay immediately at risk. We understand that the ISA virus has the potential to travel several kilometres from an infected site. Jordan Bay and the McNutt's Island open-pen site are approximately 5 kilometres apart.  It is difficult to understand how the quarantine of an open-pen site would be able to contain a virus that has now been present in the area for months. Boat traffic has been ongoing during that time - all boats entering Shelburne Harbour have to pass by the McNutt's Island open-pen site.
Biosecurity does not exist and is impossible to achieve in this situation.

   It is presumed that all site gear going to the proposed sites in Jordan Bay would be built in Shelburne and towed to Jordan Bay. Ongoing site service would likely come from Shelburne Harbour where Kelly Cove has a storage facility and a private wharf. In fact, unused cages from Shelburne Harbour could possibly be a source of gear for Jordan Bay sites. Boats from several south shore harbours come and go to the boat yards in Shelburne for maintenance and repairs.

   Virtually no harbour is protected while this traffic continues.

  Cooke Aquaculture representative, Nel Halse, has recently stated publicly that ISA "definitely comes from the wild" and that "wild fish cannot be tested." If placing salmon in open-pens in the marine environment puts them immediately at risk for contracting ISA from wild fish, then infection is entirely predictable. This reality is reflected in the fact that Cooke Aquaculture has been dealing unsuccessfully with ISA outbreaks since the 1990's - in N.B., Maine, Chile - and now in N.S.

  If there is no protocol for the testing of wild fish, then there is also no way to find the source of ISA or to know if any area is infection-free. It would be irresponsible to introduce fish into the marine environment with the knowledge that they risk contracting the ISA virus. The only way to protect "farmed" fish would be to place them in containment facilities on land.
 
   It is actually the wild fish that are endangered by being exposed to the teeming amount of ISA in open-net cages. If wild fish go on to infect other open-net cages, as postulated, then the original problem started with the infected open net cages not the wild fish. This is why a minimum of 3 kilometers spacing between open net cages is recommended by DFO in its open net siting guidance  “A Guide to the Decision Support System for Environmental Assessment of Marine Finfish Aquaculture”  DFO Rpt. #2426. The Jordan Bay and Blue Island sites are too close to each other and to other finfish sites in the area, all of which are experiencing severe environmental problems.

   The McNutt's Island site is closer to the proposed Jordan Bay sites than to the inner Shelburne Harbour sites, which are now under quarantine.


  In addition, no level of government has identified the source of the ISA infection. Although wild fish have been implicated as the source of ISA, it is also possible that the infection was introduced with the smolts. We request that CFIA reveal the source of the ISA infection - is this a wild strain or did it originate in a hatchery ?

 
  CFIA has publicly stated that at least two strains of ISA have been discovered. Our community is entitled to information regarding the strain of ISA in order to do our own analysis of the DNA sequencing. We ask that CFIA provide this information to us in order to protect our area from a virus of unknown virulence. The economy of our fishing community depends on the health of the marine environment. We have a right to protect our bay.

  When companies are repeatedly compensated, taxpayers have to bear the financial burden. Compensation to the aquaculture industry in N.B. has reached over $75 million since the 1990's. This is also an entirely predictable scenario for NS. CFIA has publicly stated that Cooke Aquaculture could receive upwards of $30.00 per fish slaughtered which could amount to almost $21,000,000.00 in compensation for the McNutt's Island site alone.

  An ISA outbreak at the proposed Jordan Bay sites (stocked with 2,000,000 fish), would cost taxpayers as much as $60 million dollars in compensation.Why should taxpayers be financially responsible for the diseased stock of a private company  with a history of ISA outbreaks ? Why would any level of government allow this scenario to be repeated, asking taxpayers to bear this financial burden ?

  Even if ISA poses no direct threat to lobster stocks, perception in the marketplace that lobster may have come from an area infected with ISA is prejudicial to the lobster market. Why would any company want to put the reputation of another fishery at risk ?

  We ask that CFIA take a precautionary approach and halt the lease application for proposed sites in Jordan Bay, NS. There is no scientific or experiential basis to approve the Jordan Bay and Blue Island sites.

  Please respond to our request in writing at your earliest convenience.


Sincerely,
Sindy Horncastle
Marilyn Moore
Mayday-Shelburne County
Jordan Bay, NS

24 April, 2012

Written by Dr. Roderick D. O’Sullivan BDS, M.Sc., the problems with open pen aquaculture are well stated in his recent article "Farmed Salmon - A Dream Turned Nightmare".  

07 April, 2012

There are a series of videos on YouTube entitled The Green Interview.  Presented by journalist, Silver Donald Cameron, they look at the issue of open pen aquacilture.  The following are just a sample of what is available.  Many more are available through the Green Interview Chanel.