This spring has been an eventful time in the fight to preserve wild Pacific salmon. In early February, Alexandra Morton won a months-long court battle against the province of British Columbia (Alexandra Morton et al vs the A.G. of British Columbia and Marine Harvest Canada, Vancouver Registry, No. S083198) to determine who had the right to regulate salmon farms. On February 9, the BC Supreme Court ruled that the BC government does not have the right to regulate salmon farms. The ruling determined that fish within a fish farm are considered a fishery rather than agriculture and must be regulated by the Canadian federal government. The province did not appeal the decision, though Marine Harvest Canada did. To my knowledge, the outcome of that appeal is still pending.
The Canadian government has 12 months to put in place appropriate legislation for the regulation of the farmed salmon fishery. Alexandra has created a petition requesting that the Fisheries Act be enforced on the salmon farms. The letter makes several requests, notably the removal of marine feedlots from wild salmon migration routes. To date, some 7,400 fisherman and concerned individuals have signed. If you agree, please click here to read the letter and add your name to the petition.
Across the pond, the Irish are fighting a similar battle. The Ballynahinch river system has historically been one of the best trout and salmon fisheries in Ireland. After the introduction of salmon farming in the river estuary in 1988, annual catch of trout fell by 98%. The cause for this decline has been proven to be sea lice infestation resulting from the salmon farm.
The salmon farm went through a period of financial difficulty and ceased operation in 2004. From 2004 until 2008, the sea trout rod catches at Ballynahinch improved from 100 to 1,500 and the salmon catches have increased from 50 to 270.
In October 2008, salmon farming was reintroduced to the bay into which the Ballynahinch River flows. Based on experience from 1988 to 2008, many believe that the farm and resulting sea lice will cause a new collapse in wild fish stocks. The Roundstone Angling Club has drafted a petition to Mr. Brendan Smith, minister of agriculture in Ireland, asking that salmon farming be outlawed in the Ballynahinch estuary. To read the letter and add your name to the petition, visit http://www.petitiononline.com/seatrout/petition.html. Almost 2,000 people have already lent their signature to support this petition.