This Nov. 2019 aerial photo of Cermaq’s Binns fish farm shows the harmful algae bloom occurring. (Clayoquot Action photo)

This Nov. 2019 aerial photo of Cermaq’s Binns fish farm shows the harmful algae bloom occurring. (Clayoquot Action photo)

Algae bloom kills over 200k farmed fish near Tofino

“We’re trying to rebuild fish stocks in Clayoquot Sound and it is disheartening to hear of this news.”

Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) has confirmed that the harmful algae blooms (HABs) that caused a mass die-off of farmed Atlantic salmon at a collection of Cermaq fish farm sites near Tofino has rescinded.

Cermaq Canada, a Norway headquartered salmon farming company with 15 sites in the Clayoquot Sound UNESCO Biosphere Region, first reported the fish mortalities on Nov. 15.

READ: Algae bloom killing farmed fish on Vancouver Island’s West Coast

During the week of November 25, DFO staff observed fish behaviour and checked records at all four of the sites—Binns Island, Bawden Point, Ross Pass and Millar Channel—that reported fish mortality events.

“Mortality due to harmful plankton has decreased significantly at all sites and at this point it appears the fish mortality events are over,” said the agency.

A media release from Cermaq reaffirms.

“The last of the mortalities associated with the harmful algae have been collected and were removed from site on November 22,” reads the Cermaq media release.

Amy Jonsson, Cermaq Canada’s communications and engagement manager, said the foreign owned fish farming company normally doesn’t release numbers due to “commercial reasons”, but in this instance, she received permission.

“I can confirm that we lost approximately 205,000 fish in total,” said Jonsson via email.

DFO said they are satisfied with how Cermaq’s site operators managed the fish mortalities.

“DFO scientists have been collaborating with Cermaq and other industry partners since June 2019 to identify linkages between marine environmental conditions and the occurrence and impacts of harmful algae, and associated biotoxins, at BC salmon farms through the Aquaculture Collaborative Research and Development Program,” said the agency.

“Their goal is to develop analytical tools that will help industry to better predict when and where harmful blooms are likely to occur, so that appropriate countermeasures can be deployed most effectively,” they said.

Tla-o-qui-aht First Nations (TFN) circulated a press release on Nov. 26 regarding the salmon die-off.

While Cermaq operates 15 fish farms in Ahousaht territory, TFN said the aquaculture company has been loading, unloading, and hauling its product through TFN territories without the consent or endorsement of the Nation. TFN Tribal Parks co-ordinator Terry Dorward said they currently have no working relationship with Cermaq, who operates a fish processing plant in Tofino within TFN territory.

“We are trying to rebuild fish stocks in Clayoquot Sound and it is disheartening to hear of this news. We can see that the marine risks of salmon farming are increasing, so the potential for negative impacts upon our own wild fish stocks is significant,” said Dorward.

He said that TFN proposed alternatives to fish farming, like kelp farming at a recent Clayoquot Salmon Roundtable.

“There are no borders when it comes to fish farm disease outbreaks and the pollutants that spread from the fish farm themselves. They spread when the tide comes in and goes out,” said Dorward.

READ: Salmon populations “drastically declining” around Tofino and Ucluelet

On Nov. 28, Courtenay-Alberni MP Gord Johns was appointed critic for fisheries and oceans. He told the Westerly that DFO has lost the confidence of coastal people.

“[DFO] are both the agent, so they are a promoter of the industry, they are also there to compensate the industry when there is die-off, and then they are also there to protect our wild fisheries. No one has trust when you are playing both roles,” said Johns. “There are a lot of good people working at DFO that care deeply about our fish but it taints the whole department when they are trying to play the double role.”

“They just accept [the fish mortalities] as doing business. And it’s something that we shouldn’t simply accept, a die-off of a couple hundred thousand fish. It’s just absolutely immoral to think that this is just okay,” Johns went on to say.

READ: Clear and unequivocal: Thousands of scientists sign letter on climate crisis

In a recent quarterly report to shareholders, Mowi, another Norwegian seafood company with operations in Newfoundland, revealed costs had increased by 25 per cent in their Canada East sites “following a prolonged period of challenging environmental conditions.”

In early October 2019, high seawater temperatures caused mortalities of 2.6 million fish at Northern Harvest Sea Farms, a subsidiary of Mowi, located in the Fortune Bay area of Newfoundland’s south coast.

The federal government suspended the licences for all of the affected Northern Harvest sites as a result of the mass fish mortalities.



nora.omalley@westerlynews.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

READ MORE: After the election: The future of fish farms in the North Island

Fish FarmsFisheries and Oceans CanadaTofino,

Just Posted

From left, Ahousaht First Nation Hereditary Chief Richard George presents a $10,000 cheque to Tofino Hatchery manager Doug Palfrey alongside Tyler Huebner of TCH Contracting The funds will go towards rebuilding Cypre river Chinook. (Carallyn Bowes photo)
Tofino Hatchery receives $10K donation

Tofino Salmon Enhancement Society tackling massive drop in Chinook salmon stocks

Creative handmade signs abound at the June 13 Tofino rally for old growth trees. (Nora O’Malley photo)
VIDEO: Tofino stands in solidarity for Fairy Creek Blockades

Over 150 supporters attend rally hosted by Friends of Clayoquot Sound

This rendering shows the potential layout for a 40-unit staff housing cooperative being proposed by the Pac Rim Home Development Cooperative in Ucluelet. (Image from www.prhdc.ca)
Pac Rim Cooperative pitches staff housing project in Ucluelet

“We’re looking at it as if it’s like a resort for employees”

A shot from within Leah McDiarmid’s new gallery shows a sneak peak at June 13’s opening exhibit. (Leah McDiarmid photo)
New gallery promises engaging experience in Tofino

Tofino Gallery of Contemporary Art unveils inaugural exhibit on June 13

Louise Rodgers and Georgina Valk cup a handful of freshly sifted, nutrient-rich compost. The duo met about 10 years ago while their kids were in kindergarten. They saw a need for composting in Tofino so they founded Tofino Urban Farm Co. (Nora O’Malley photo)
Tofino moms turn mounds of organic waste into “Black Gold”

Curbside residential and commercial compost pickup to begin in 2022 for West Coasters

People watch a car burn during a riot following game 7 of the NHL Stanley Cup final in downtown Vancouver, B.C., in this June 15, 2011 photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Geoff Howe
10 years ago: Where were you during the 2011 Vancouver Stanley Cup Riots?

Smashed-in storefronts, looting, garbage can fires and overturned cars some of the damage remembered today

Two hundred and fifteen lights are placed on the lawn outside the Residential School in Kamloops, B.C., Saturday, June, 13, 2021. The remains of 215 children were discovered buried near the former Kamloops Indian Residential School earlier this month. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Days after Kamloops remains discovery, Tk’emlups families gather to unite, move ahead

‘We have to work together because this is going to be setting a precedent for the rest of the country’

In this Saturday, May 29, 2021, file photo, people crowd the Santa Monica Pier in Santa Monica, Calif. California, the first state in America to put in place a coronavirus lockdown, is now turning a page on the pandemic. Most of California’s coronavirus restrictions will disappear Tuesday, June 15, 2021. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes, File)
With COVID tamed, it’s a ‘grand reopening’ in California

No more state rules on social distancing, no more limits on capacity, no more mandatory masks

Montreal Canadiens goaltender Carey Price (31) is scored on by Vegas Golden Knights defenseman Alec Martinez, not pictured, during the second period in Game 1 of an NHL hockey Stanley Cup semifinal playoff series Monday, June 14, 2021, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)
Habs fall 4-1 to Vegas Golden Knights in Game 1 of NHL semifinal series

Match was Montreal’s first game outside of Canada in 2021

Kelowna-Lake Country MLA Norm Letnick, assistant deputy speaker at the B.C. legislature, presides over committee discussions. The legislature is completing its delayed spring session this week, with most MLAs participating by video conference. (Hansard TV)
B.C.’s daily COVID-19 infections dip below 100 over weekend

Only 68 new cases recorded Monday, four additional deaths

Gabriola Island artist Sheila Norgate is promoting the Digital Innovation Group’s art impact survey. (File photo)
Vancouver Island artists get behind regional arts impact study

Artists urged to use their stature to help put arts and culture super-region on the map

The BC Ferries website went down for a short while Monday morning following a provincial announcement that recreational travel between health authorities can resume Tuesday. (Black Press Media file photo)
BC Ferries’ website crashes in wake of provincial reopening announcement

Website back up now, recreational travel between health regions to resume as of Tuesday

Neighbours fight a small late-night bush fire with garden hoses and shovels in Cinnabar Valley on June 5. They couldn’t get help from local fire services because the fire was located in an area under B.C. Wildfire Services jurisdiction. (Photo courtesy Muriel Wells)
Neighbours on edge of Nanaimo city limits left to put out bush fire themselves

Cinnabar Valley residents tackle fire with hoses and buckets for two and a half hours

Darren Campbell’s truck (pictured) was stolen when he stopped to check on a car in a ditch on Cowichan Bay Road on Monday morning. (Facebook photo)
Vancouver Island Good Samaritan’s truck stolen in nasty trick

‘Try to be a Good Samaritan and my $20,000 truck gets stolen right under my nose’

Most Read