LETTER: Open-net fish farms must go

We agree salmon farming needs to be done in a responsible manner. It is clear there are fundamental challenges of sea lice and disease from farms getting into the wild, and intensive open-net aquaculture has a heavy impact on ecosystems. Scientists around the world have identified these major concerns in light of the sorry track record of open-net fish farming in Norway, Scotland, Chile, and eastern Canada. The drive to continue expansion of open-net farms on the Pacific coast significantly impacts Fraser River sockeye. This is of great concern to both aboriginal fisheries as well as the sport fishing industry, because the Fraser sockeye decline began the same year salmon feedlots were put on their migration route.

Re: ‘Ensure responsible salmon farming,’ letter, Chilliwack Progress, July 28.

We agree salmon farming needs to be done in a responsible manner. It is clear there are fundamental challenges of sea lice and disease from farms getting into the wild, and intensive open-net aquaculture has a heavy impact on ecosystems. Scientists around the world have identified these major concerns in light of the sorry track record of open-net fish farming in Norway, Scotland, Chile, and eastern Canada. The drive to continue expansion of open-net farms on the Pacific coast significantly impacts Fraser River sockeye. This is of great concern to both aboriginal fisheries as well as the sport fishing industry, because the Fraser sockeye decline began the same year salmon feedlots were put on their migration route.

The best approach involves closed containment systems that separate farmed fish from wild fish. This is how we can best manage to have healthy farmed fish and wild salmon for future generations. This would simply remove one of the complex issues related to protecting wild salmon.

I have one question for Mary Ellen Walling, of the BC Salmon Farmers Association: Has Dr. Kristi Miller been allowed to do genomic profiling of the Atlantic salmon in the Fraser migration route to see if they show the same viral signature as the sockeye?

Eddie Gardner

Skwah First Nation member