Thursday, September 25, 2008

Fish and Lice, they don't play nice

The Watershed Watch Salmon Society is taking the discussion on salmon farms and the impact that they have on Wild stocks to the world of flim.

The Society has posted a short animated film on it website that they hope helps to bring a bit of clarity to a confusing debate and will bring more awareness to the perils that they feel the farmed salmon bring to British Columbia's waters.

The Daily News provided some background on the film in Wednesday's paper.

Short film puts lice, and fish farms in the frame
By Kris Schumacher
The Daily News
Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Pages one and three

A new short animation being distributed by prominent environmental organizations aims to increase public understanding of how salmon farming and sea lice are allegedly harming British Columbia's wild salmon stocks.

The short video was produced by the Watershed Watch Salmon Society and illustrates salmon ecology and the interactions between sea lice and salmon in a simplified way, which the group hopes will explain the technical science behind what can often be a complicated issue.

The animation, Wild Salmon In Trouble, was created in light of the numerous studies published recently which predict catastrophic results for salmon populations if the threats of sea lice and open net-cage farm operations are not addressed.

"Although many people know that sea lice from farms pose a serious threat to wild salmon, there's a clear public appetite to learn more about the nature of the interactions linking farmed salmon, sea lice and wild salmon," said Stan Proboszcz, Watershed Watch's fisheries biologist and animation project manager.

"Wild Salmon in Trouble depicts the salmon life-cycle and shows how farmed salmon produce vast numbers of lice that infect migrating juvenile salmon, an unnatural and unsustainable situation."

Watershed Watch's Executive Director Craig Orr said the six-minute animation, based on published and peer-reviewed science, will give people a better understanding of sea lice dynamics and allow them to better help wild salmon.

The video is available at the Watershed Watch Salmon Society website located at

New evidence from salmon researchers is also showing viral outbreaks from antibiotic resistant infected lice from the Johnstone Strait all the way to Bella Bella on the mid-coast, which are impacting herring stocks in addition to the already depressed sockeye and chum salmon stocks.
Even spawning grounds on the North Coast are experiencing some of the lowest salmon numbers on record. Hyder, Alaska's Fish Creek, a primary source of food for black and grizzly bears in the area, saw less than 2,000 chum salmon return this summer, compared to roughly 12,000 in 2007 and more than 40,000 in 2006.

"We must take immediate action to protect herring and salmon in British Columbian waters by implementing the recommendations of the Special Committee on Sustainable Aquaculture," said North Coast MLA Gary Coons.

"Herring and salmon are lynch-pins of both the coastal ecosystem and our fishing industry. It's been a year and a half since the Special Committee on Sustainable Aquaculture made their final report and the Campbell Liberal government has only implemented half of one recommendation, despite the growing body of scientific evidence showing the connection between open pen farms and declining salmon and herring stocks."

Coons points to runs located in the Broughton Archipelago that have fallen to disastrous lows, such as Glendale Creek where only 19,000 spawning salmon were counted this year, compared to 264,000 last year.

He is concerned that what he describes as poor management by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans is adding to the strain on salmon and herring stocks, which are already being hit by changes in the ocean and impacts from farms.

"There are lots of hungry bears in the province this year," said Coons.

"There are not enough fish spawning, not enough fish for the bears, the eagles and the orcas. This can't continue."

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