The Tragedy of Atlantic Salmon on the Pacific Coast
by Susanne Lawson
Sept. 7, 2017
The diminishing returns of the Pacific salmon to west cost rivers can be attributed to many factors but the introduction of Atlantic salmon, to be raised on fish farms on the west coast, may mean the demise of wild salmon.
Atlantic Salmon are so different from our west coast salmon that it is inconceivable that the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, (DFO) could ever permit them here. They are more like a steelhead than a wild salmon, having lighter colored flesh than a salmon, more like a trout, (the reason fish farms feed them red dye for coloring their flesh).
The big factor in the loss of our wild salmon, other than the massive disease and sea lice problems the fish farms generate is the fact that Atlantic salmon don't return to die in the rivers like Pacific salmon do...they move in and out of the rivers throughout their 6 or more years of life, eating salmon smolts and trout that are living in the fresh water.
Atlantic salmon are voracious feeders, hanging out in mid or lower depths in the rivers, eating any small fish they see. They grow quickly on the smolts and young trout and migrate in and out of the rivers at will.
The escaped Atlantic farmed salmon can survive and reproduce on the west coast as has been proven in studies by professor John Volpe of UVic.
These factors along with the hundreds of thousands of Atlantic salmon that have escaped from farms on the west coast may spell disaster for the once magnificent wild west coast salmon. The struggle for survival of Pacific salmon after rampant logging and siltation in west coast rivers left their numbers in peril and DFO ignored obvious results, opting for fish farming of foreign species rather than protection, removing any laws that favored wild salmon. Here we are today with more sick and pellet fed Atlantic fish in our waters than exist on the Atlantic coast.
Counts of salmon in rivers on the west coast, where there have been over half a million escaped farmed fish, used to list the Atlantic salmon but now they are lumped in a category as "Other" in the counts by DFO. The department pretended to have an Atlantic salmon reporting site but that was never monitored or attended to - no one was there.
Our government should be sued for introducing a foreign species and held accountable for their removal Once and for All; including removal of fish farms before it is entirely too late for the wild Pacific salmon and all that depend upon them.