A salmon conservation group is raising concerns about reported increases in wild fish deaths, primarily herring, in British Columbia’s open-net fish farms.
Stan Proboszcz, senior scientist at Watershed Watch Salmon Society, says federal data shows more than 817,000 wild fish were killed at B.C. salmon farms in 2022, five times the number of fish deaths reported in previous years.
He says much of the blame for the spike is likely a high-pressure spraying process fish-farm operators are using to clear lice and other parasites off farmed salmon.
Cermaq Canada, one of B.C.’s largest aquaculture firms, says herring deaths at its farms were larger in 2022 because of its new use of the sea lice spray technology and that more herring became trapped in their net pens.
The company says Fisheries and Oceans Canada data show herring deaths at the salmon farms were estimated to amount to 0.08 per cent of the total amount of surrounding Pacific herring mass last year.
Fisheries Canada, which recorded the incidental wild fish kill data, was not immediately available for comment.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 5, 2023.