Keep it Wild! No Fish Farms

Feature story - July 16, 2004
From spreading sea lice to flooding the salmon market, fish farming in North America threatens the health of wild salmon populations. Alaska has already banned fish farming, but until Canada follows suit, Alaskan salmon remains under threat. Oh Canada: "Keep it Wild!"

Greenpeace activists protest fish farming in British Columbia

A flotilla of more than 30 boats, led by Greenpeace, Alaska natives, and First Nations from Canada, made its way up the British Columbia coast to protest fish farms in the Broughton Archipelago. The flotilla demanded an end to the expansion of fish farms along the west coast of North America and the closure of all fish farms in the Archipelago.

"Greenpeace and Alaska stand resolutely opposed to fish farms, which generate lethal amounts of sea lice that threaten wild salmon," said Jeremy Paster of Greenpeace U.S. "British Columbia is expanding aquaculture toward Alaska, a reckless move that endangers wild salmon stocks in both Canada and the U.S."

Paster was one of several American and Canadian activists aboard the Greenpeace ship, the Arctic Sunrise, which laid a 65-foot floating net banner with the message "Keep It Wild - No Fish Farms" next to fish farm pens in the Broughton Archipelago. The Archipelago has one of the highest concentrations of fish farms in the world, many of which are placed on vital migratory routes for wild salmon.

In 2002, close to four million wild pink salmon died after contracting lethal levels of sea lice from fish farms in the Archipelago - the largest single collapse of a fishery in B.C.'s history. At the end of April 2004, juvenile pinks were seen with deadly numbers of sea lice, higher than in 2002. Many of these fish had more than 60 lice on them.

Applications have been made for three Canadian fish farm sites near Alaska. One at Anger Anchorage has been approved, and the others, at Petrel Point and Azimuth Island, are pending review.

"We are watching a storm move closer, a Canadian-made storm that threatens to wipe out our traditional way of life and our livelihoods in Alaska," said A. Webster Denmert, president of the Klawock Cooperative Association, an Alaskan native commercial fisheries group that took part in the protest. "We are here to ask all Canadians to put a stop to this reckless endeavor."

"What is happening in the Broughton - the eradication of a major wild salmon run - is bound to happen on the north coast toward Alaska where the B.C. and federal governments are now expanding fish farms," said Catherine Stewart of Greenpeace Canada. "Canada's fish farm expansion shows a complete disregard for the lifeblood of the entire west coast: the wild salmon."