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Image: CBC Radio Canada / FIS

Huge spike in herring killed in salmon farm operations

Click on the flag for more information about Canada CANADA
Friday, December 08, 2023, 07:00 (GMT + 9)

The following is an excerpt from an article published by CBC Radio Canada:

Some juvenile herring caught in salmon hydrolicing are having their eyes blown out, says conservation group

The Watershed Watch Salmon Society is sounding the alarm on data collected by Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) that show an unprecedented spike in wild fish killed in B.C. salmon farm operations.

According to DFO, 817,000 wild fish — nearly all of them herring — were reported killed in open-net pen salmon farm operations in 2022. That's an almost five-fold increase from the previous year and a 21-fold increase from 2020.

"This problem is getting significantly worse," said Stan Proboszcz, senior scientist with Watershed Watch Salmon Society. "We're seeing unprecedented levels of wild fish caught and killed by the salmon farming industry, and that's a great concern."

Documents obtained by biologist and activist Alexandra Morton through a Freedom of Information request show DFO staff discussing internally the "significant negative attention" expected from the publication of the data.

The documents describe an estimated 130,000 herring that were killed in Clayoquot Sound in March 2021 by salmon farm operator Cermaq Canada during a mechanical sea lice removal treatment known as hydrolicing.

Source: Government of Canada

During DFO's follow up with Cermaq, the company provided information that over 700,000 herring had died at a number of Cermaq facilities "associated with the use of a specific hydrolicer vessel," according to the documents.

Hydrolicing is a process that essentially power washes farmed salmon to remove parasites like sea lice. Smaller wild fish, including juvenile herring, can also be sucked up by the hydrolicing vessel and killed in the process. The herring are attracted into open net-pens by the food and lights used to grow farmed salmon.

'Herring eyes blown out'

"One of my colleagues witnessed one of these large herring fish kills and there's some really shocking images whereby the herring have their eyes blown out. It's actually quite horrific," said Proboszcz.

In an emailed statement, Cermaq Canada said the spike in the herring kill numbers "coincided with an unprecedented increase in wild herring biomass near our farms on the west coast of Vancouver Island," and that ongoing efforts are "significantly mitigating incidental catch."

Source: CBC Radio Canada

"In 2022, incidental herring catch at salmon farms along Vancouver Island's west coast was 0.086 per cent of the estimated Pacific herring spawning biomass in the area — a five-fold increase over a 10-year average of 0.015 per cent," reads the statement.

In a statement, DFO said an investigation into the herring kill resulted in changes to the conditions of licence for aquaculture companies, "to ensure that sea lice treatments do not cause this type of impact on wild fish." [Continues...]

Author: Karin Larsen | CBC Radio Canada | Read the full article by clicking the link here

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