Key Issues

Salmon Farming

Many people are concerned about the impacts of net-cage salmon farming on our communities and the environment.

Diseases and sea lice tend to multiply quickly in net cages due to the crowded conditions. Since many salmon farms are located along wild salmon migration routes or near wild salmon rivers, these diseases and parasites can spread to wild salmon. Juvenile wild salmon are especially vulnerable.

The weight of scientific evidence shows that sea lice from salmon farms are killing off the smallest juvenile wild salmon as they migrate out to sea.

Most fish farmers treat their sick fish with pesticides and antibiotics. Residues from these products are released into the ocean and can harm shrimp, prawns and crabs in the area.

Most years thousands of farmed salmon escape into the wild because of human error and torn nets. Nets can be ripped during winter storms or by hungry seals and sea lions.

Raising salmon in net cages creates pollution. Fish feces and uneaten food pellets pass through the nets and into the ocean. This waste collects below the farms and can suffocate marine life on the ocean floor.

Most B.C. fish farms grow Atlantic salmon that are not native to the Pacific Ocean. This alien species could threaten the survival of wild salmon stocks by introducing diseases or by taking over river habitat when they escape from fish farms. In the last decade, an estimated one million farmed salmon have escaped in B.C. Atlantic salmon have been found in more than 80 rivers.

We work with four other groups on this issue, in a coalition called the Coastal Alliance for Aquaculture Reform (CAAR). For more information on specific threats from salmon farming see salmon farm impacts and see solutions for ways we could move forward to better protect wild salmon. There is also a wealth of information on the CAAR website.