Group says polluting salmon farms should be charged

August 29, 2001

VANCOUVER — The T. Buck Suzuki Environmental Foundation says polluting salmon farms should face prosecutions and fines like other polluters.

A newly released document from the Ministry of Water, Land and Air Protection shows that 47 percent of all salmon farm sites had potential or probable impacts to marine life on the seabed. Most of these sites showed high levels of hydrogen sulphide from excess organic loading from salmon feces and waste fish feed. Hydrogen sulphide is toxic for many marine species at these levels.

“Both levels of government should act on this report and prosecute the worst offenders,” said T. Buck Suzuki Environmental Foundation Executive Director David Lane.

“Salmon feces and waste feed have been smothering the seabed for years at many salmon farm sites, in clear violation of the federal Fisheries Act,” Lane said. “It is time to see some prosecutions and stiff fines to make sure this industry cleans up its act.”

44 out of 94 salmon farm sites sampled had toxic levels of hydrogen sulphide. Most of these had highly negative oxidation reduction potential (ORP) and some had elevated zinc and copper levels. At four of these sites waste feed, feed bags and other debris were found littering the seabed.

Six farms were found to have extremely high sulphide levels, ten times higher than most other farms with seabed impacts. These included: salmon farms at Upper Retreat, Arrow Passage and Midsummer Island (Stolt); a site at James Bay (Omega Pacific); a site at Centre Cove (Marine Harvest); and the Cypress farm (Heritage Aquaculture).