**** Download Aquaculture Fact Sheet ****
Since 1980 the salmon farrming industry around the North Atlantic Ocean has increased nearly exponentially. Crowded together in cages, farmed salmon are subject to epidemic outbreaks of diseases and parasites that can impact wild Atlantic salmon. In freshwater, salmon escaping from hatcheries can displace young wild salmon, jeopardizing the future of the species in those watersheds.
In Autumn 2010 there were three known large escapes of wild Atlantic salmon in the Bay of Fundy, 13,000 in Western Passage between Deer Island and Eastport, 33,000 large fish near Grand Manan, and another 138,000 smaller Atlantic salmon, again near Grand Manan. In addition, prior to any of these escapes, farmed Atlantic salmon were found up the Saint John River below the Mactaquac Dam.
In Sept. 2011 escapee farmed salmon have been found entering the Magaguadavic River in southwest New Brunswick, and the Dennys River in eastern Maine. The industry has failed to report any escapes, but the numbers suggest there has been a release of adult farmed salmon.
In 2011 there is controversy over a new site planned in Nova Scotia, off Long Island, in St. Mary's Bay. ASF and other conservation organizations have raised concerns related to endangered Atlantic salmon in the Bay of Fundy.
A study involving ASF and other researchers has shown there is likely a loss of adaptation in wild Atlantic salmon in the Magaguadavic River due to interbreeding with escaped farmed Atlantic Salmon. The Abstract of the study in Heredity Journal, (2011) 106, 500-510 is available here
Cypermethrin and Sea Lice On Nov. 2 2011 an aquaculture company together with three executives were charged on 11 counts under Section 36 (3) of the Fisheries Act. The charges related to the deaths of lobsters where the highly toxic cypermethrin was found. Cypermethrin is illegal to use in the marine environment in Canada since it is so highly toxic. Sea Lice have become immune to the treatment of choice, and claims have been made that cypermethrin was used illegally. Download an ASF Backgrounder on Cypermethrin and Sea Lice
In Canada, Auditor General offices of the Federal Gov't and provinces have provided the most critical and demanding look at aquaculture industries - holding them up to the standards they need to meet - and doing a better job than other government agencies. Check these reports:
In 2008 three studies were released that need special mention:
- 114 page report detailing The Incidence and Impact of Escaped Farmed Salmon in Nature . ASF's Dr. Fred Whoriskey is one of the co-authors. click here to download the .pdf
- Prevalence of Escaped Farmed Salmon in Eastern North America. click here - both Dr. Fred Whoriskey and ASF's researcher Jonathan Carr are co-authors.
- Jennifer Ford and Ransom Myers - A Global Assessment of Salmon Aquaculture Impacts on Wild Atlantic Salmon - Click here
An earlier Irish study, published in 2003 after TEN years of research, showed with solid science how much impact farmed salmon had on wild Atlantic salmon when the farmed salmon escaped and interbred. Click here
Since 1992, ASF has been monitoring the Magaguadavic River in southwest New Brunswick as an Index River for Aquaculture Interactions. The river is near the centre of the aquaculture marine grow-out areas for New Brunswick, and also has several hatcheries on tributaries that have had a succession of 'leakages' of fry, parr and smolts into the river.
As aquaculture has increased, the numbers of wild salmon have declined - from 293 in 1992 to 11 in 2010. In only a single year since 1993 have more wild than aquaculture salmon come into the Magaguadavic. For a chart of the decline and impact of aquaculture salmon click here
Many farm escapees move to rivers near and far, to migrate upstream in order to spawn. With critically low numbers of wild Atlantic salmon in many rivers, this raises the potential problems of:
ASF's Policy Statement on Aquaculture can be downloaded
- Genetic swamping of wild Atlantic salmon populations through interbreeding
- Competition for habitat from less well adapted but larger aquaculture fish
- Transfer of disease
- Transfer of genes of less adaptable populations - for example the introduction of European genes into North American salmon. Click here
For tens of thousands of years, Atlantic salmon have adapted to conditions within a specific river and along a specific migration route. Aquaculture salmon genetically interacting with wild salmon jeopardize the survivability of these wild populations.