Another farmed salmon escape goes unreported in New Brunswick

By Bob SextonBob Sexton


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According to the Atlantic Salmon Federation (ASF), farmed salmon escapees have recently been found in the Magaguadavic River in southwest New Brunswick and the Dennys River in Maine. “Another unreported sea cage breach has occurred in the Bay of Fundy,” says Jonathan Carr, ASF’s director of research and environment.

There have been 10 farmed escapees caught at the fish ladder on the Magaguadavic River, weighing on average 5.4 kilograms and three escaped fish each weighing around six kilograms caught in the weir on the Dennys River. “Fish of that size category are currently being grown in Passamaquoddy Bay, indicating that this is where the breach has occurred,” Carr says.

“Recently, farmed salmon in the same size range are showing up in these rivers, which suggests that the fish are all part of the same escape event. None of the sizes match up with the last three breaches of containment that were reported by the industry late last fall,” he adds.

The Government of New Brunswick requires aquaculture licensees to notify the Registrar of Aquaculture within 24 hours when they know that 100 salmon or more have escaped from their open water pen, and to have a containment management plan in place within 48 hours. Whereas escaped salmon can be captured and removed on the Magaguadavic and Dennys rivers, that’s impossible in many other rivers in the Bay of Fundy and Gulf of Maine.

Carr adds, “Government needs to take a leadership role in monitoring, reporting and enforcement to ensure transparency and accountability regarding escapes. As it stands now, the onus is on ASF to monitor escapees on the Magaguadavic River and to report to government and the public on escapes. In view of the dangers farmed escapees present to wild populations, government needs to be much more proactive in enforcing the regulations that do exist.”

When escapees interbreed with the few endangered wild salmon that remain in the Bay of Fundy, the fitness and survival of these wild Atlantic salmon populations can be harmed. On September 8, the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC) confirmed the endangered status of the wild populations of the inner and outer Bay of Fundy. The COSEWIC report noted that:

  • Growth of the Canadian aquaculture industry has coincided with severe decline in wild populations in the nearby rivers in the Bay of Fundy.
  • In North America, farm-origin salmon have been reported in 87 per cent of the rivers investigated within 300 km of aquaculture sites.
  • Even small percentages of escaped farmed salmon have the potential to negatively affect resident populations, either through demographic or genetic changes.

Says Carr: “The continuation of escapes into the wild underscores the need for closed containment systems.”




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Jun. 15, 2014

11:01 am

The main issue with the decimation of the wild Atlantic Salmon on the Magaguadavic River is the Irving owned hydro generating plant. The poor performance of the downstream fish bypass is not publicized by ASF because it will cost funding which is a form of corporate censorship. There are many other hydro plants operating on Bay Of Fundy Rivers and have caused the same disastrous results for the wild salmon and eels. Just to note, ASF had an interbreeding Atlantic Salmon research project that introduced hundreds of thousands of interbred salmon from many different rivers, starting from the late seventies continuing to the mid eighties, the same time when the inter Bay Of Fundy stock had a major decline. ASF is the main reason that there is cage farming industry of atlantic salmon, in eastern Canada. They sold fish to the fish farmers that were reared at their hatchery located in Chamcook for almost two decades making millions of dollars. It is most hypocritical when ASF are trying to blame the decline of the salmon runs, in the Bay Of Fundy on aquaculture when the number one is the hydro generating plants. They do not have any proof just speculation. There was research conducted over the years outlining the downstream migration salmon smolt mortality associated with the hydro generating station on the Magaguadavic River but ASF will not inform the general public because, it would generate negative publicity for one of their major sponsors and I suspect there would a loss of funding also. The northern salmon rivers in New Brunswick, like the Miramichi and the Ristigouche do not have aquaculture to blame for low returns yet there are no hydro plants either, however any of the rivers in the south with the lowest numbers of returns do have. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that the conservation group, is picking its targets based on the least cost of negative publicity to their sponsors and it does not have to cost them funding. I say leave any escapees spawn in a river, that has no wild fish returning anyway. The escapees will cause no more damage to the wild than all the interbred fish that ASF stocked into the Bay Of Fundy in the 70's and 80's that they fail to tell the public. There is media censorship in New Brunswick and apparently censorship of conservation organizations also. A sad day,for sure for fish and wildlife conservation for the province. The newest idea of closed containment salmon farming, will be a disaster, by moving an industry inland which will require vast amounts of ground water and generate huge pollution issues along our rivers and streams. ASF created the cage farming industry they are trying to distance themselves from. If that wasn't such a good idea, I am a bit sceptical about their latest dream to save our salmon to say the least.

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