Fire at B.C. fish farm may have allowed non-native salmon to escape

CTV News –

A Vancouver Island fish farm company says it’s still trying to determine whether any farmed Atlantic salmon escaped into B.C. waters after a fire damaged one of their pens.

There were 21,000 Atlantic salmon in the pen when it was damaged on Dec. 20, according to Mowi, the company that operates the fish farm near Port Hardy on Vancouver Island.

But a member of a nearby First Nation says the incident illustrates why the industry needs to move away from farming fish in the ocean. Kwakwabalas (Ernest Alfred) of the ‘Namgis Nation said the incident illustrates the threat that open net fish farming poses to threatened wild salmon populations.

“The Nimpkish River salmon have crashed,” Kwakwabalas said, referring to the wild salmon in the ‘Namgis’ traditional territory on the north coast of Vancouver Island. “They are in such steep decline. And now we have the threat of these Atlantic (salmon) being dumped into the water, and potentially moving up the river.”

Kwakwabalas said he’s concerned that if Atlantic salmon escaped from the fish farm pen, the “invasive species” could compete for habitat with B.C. wild salmon populations.

Chris Read, the communications manager for Mowi, referred CTV News to a statement on the company’s website.

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