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Salmon Advisory

January 22, 2009

Linked by The Erie Wire 


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In February 2006, Deconstructing Dinner aired an episode that explored salmon farming off the coast of BC. Three years later, we’re revisiting the topic and creating a new multi-part series of the same name.

While the structure of the industry has not changed much over the past three years, public opposition has remained strong. Catherine Stewart of the Living Oceans Society believes this opposition has been pivotal in keeping the growth of the industry at bay. Stewart suggests that this static growth is much to the chagrin of the Liberal governement who had announced that the industry would increase 10-fold when they came into power in 2001.

As part of the Norway, British Columbia series, highlights will include a tour of an Atlantic salmon hatchery near Campbell River and a salmon farm off the shores of East Thurlow Island. Featured throughout the series will be interviews with industry, government, and conservation groups. The controversy surrounding the placing of an ‘organic’ label on a package of salmon will be explored alongside the prospects of genetically-engineered salmon entering into BC waters.

On this Part II, we’ll learn of expansion plans at one of the hatcheries of Marine Harvest Canada – the largest aquaculture company operating in BC. As the industry has been running into many barriers to get new farm sites approved, we’ll examine whether this expansion is a sign that the industry is getting prepared to grow? With an election looming, activists believe that a re-elected Liberal government will pave the way for a string of rubber-stamped site approvals. There are currently many applications before the Province requesting amendments to production limits and along with the history of over-production violations within the industry, open-net salmon farm opponents like the Coastal Alliance for Aquaculture Reform (CAAR), are deeply concerned.

The broadcast will also explore the Infectious Salmon Anemia (ISA) outbreak that has caused massive restructuring in Chile’s salmon farming industry. With the virus popping up in Scotland in January 2009, British Columbians should be left to wonder whether ISA will hit BC next?


Catherine Stewart – Salmon Farming Campaiagn ManagerLiving Oceans Society (Vancouver, BC) – Living Oceans Society is Canada’s largest organization focusing exclusively on marine conservation issues. They are based in Sointula, a small fishing village on the Central Coast of British Columbia. Prior to her role with Living Oceans, Catherine worked with Greenpeace for seventeen years, holding the positions of Regional Director and oceans and forests campaigner.

Clare Backman – Environmental Compliance and Community Relations,Marine Harvest Canada (Campbell River, BC) – Marine Harvest is one of the world’s largest aquaculture companies and is based in Norway. Their Canadian division is the largest aquaculture company operating in the Province of British Columbia. With 75 farm licenses, the company produces more than half (55%) of the total production of farmed salmon in BC.

Barb Addison – Manager, Big Tree Creek HatcheryMarine Harvest Canada (Sayward, BC) – Big Tree Creek is one of five hatcheries currently being managed by the company. It’s in the process of a $3-million expansion.

Other Voices

Jay Ritchlin – Director Marine and Freshwater ConservationDavid Suzuki Foundation (Vancouver, BC)

Ian Roberts – CommunicationsMarine Harvest Canada (Campbell River, BC)

Bill Harrower – Manager of Regional Operations for Aquaculture DevelopmentProvince of British Columbia, Ministry of Agriculture and Lands – (Courtenay, BC)


Photo Album 

Upon leaving one of 3 brooding programs run by Marine Harvest Canada, the eggs end up in trays in a room like this at their Big Tree Creek Hatchery. 

Upon leaving the trays, the salmon are in their fry stage and reside in these boxes until being placed into tanks. 

Inside Big Tree Creek hatchery. 

On tour at Big Tree Creek hathcery. Alongside Atlantic salmon at their parr stage 

The conditions at the Big Tree Creek hatchery are industrial in nature, as seen in the high concentration of fish above. 

Delegates of the 2008 Canadian Farm Writers Federation conference visit Marine Harvest Canada’s Big Tree Creek Hatchery north of Campbell River, B.C. 

Marine Harvest’s Dalrymple hatchery east of Sayward, B.C. 

Marine Harvest’s Dalrymple hatchery east of Sayward, B.C. 

One of the many tanks that hold the young salmon in their parr stage. While the tanks are covered with mesh, many fish often find holes to jump out at which point they are left to die so as not to prevent any contamination of the tank. 

In order to mimic conditions in the open sea, processed salts are used at farmed salmon hatcheries. 

A worker distributes pellets comprised of fish meal, fish oil and other minerals and vitamins. Estimates have predicted that it takes a total of 2.7 to 3.5 tonnes of wild fish to make 1 tonne of farmed salmon. 

Stacks of DOWFLAKE XTRA produced by Dow Chemical sit at Marine Harvest’s Big Tree Creek hatchery. The product is 83-87% calcium chloride – often produced from limestone. The product is used to adjust the calcium hardness of the water. The use of these ‘off-farm’ inputs is one of many examples of the ingredients required to produce farmed fish.

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