Mr. Clayton Lloyd-Jones asks me several questions in his Oct. 7, 2011 letter and I will attempt to answer some of them.
To answer his questions about impacts on the sea floor, it’s important to understand that on a salmon farm very little food is allowed to go to waste. Feed is our single biggest cost and we have cameras in the water to watch the salmon eat. As soon as their feeding slows down, and pellets appear to be sinking below the pen, we shut off the feeders. There is little feed waste on the ocean floor.
As for fish poop, farms are sited in deep-water areas with good water flow to allow waste to be dispersed, just as the waste from schools of wild fish disperses in the ocean. Some waste does build up below pens, but since sites are in deep water, there is little negative impact on the ocean floor and the sea life below. These impacts are monitored by DFO and many years of monitoring shows the ocean floor recovers very quickly once a farm is fallowed. Before we can restock a farm, our impact must be shown to be within government limits and regulations.
Mr. Lloyd-Jones makes some gross exaggerations about ‘chemicals’ being fed to our fish. We do not feed our fish ‘chemicals’. Our fish sometimes eat feed with antibiotics, but this is rare because we keep our fish healthy through low-stress conditions and good feed. In fact, for every tonne of salmon we produced in 2010, less than 15 grams of antibiotics were used. That?s about the size of half a granola bar.
And the only treatment we use for sea lice is SLICE, licenced in Canada as a drug, and milled into the feed. The actual amount of active ingredient used to treat an entire farm would fit in the palm of your hand.
Mr. Lloyd-Jones goes on at length about SLICE, using unsourced and outdated information which repeats many falsehoods. It is used only under the prescription of a veterinarian; it is used in such small doses that it does not impact other sea life; and most importantly, it is never used in a preventative way, only when a veterinarian deems it is necessary. We use it mainly during the spring out-migration period for wild salmon, to make sure the lice levels on our farms are as low as possible and so there is little or no risk of sea lice being passed from our farms to juvenile wild salmon swimming by.
There is plenty of public information available about SLICE through the B.C. Agricultural Ministry, Health Canada and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, and even the US EPA because the main ingredient ? emamectin benzoate ? has been used for more than a decade as a pesticide in American vegetable farms.
And it is certainly not “used at least once on every farmed salmon.” It’s not uncommon for a full production cycle of fish to go from smolt to harvest without any antibiotic or SLICE treatment at all. And regular tests of our fish by us and by the CFIA show there is no detectable residue in the salmon flesh from antibiotics and SLICE.
Mr. Lloyd-Jones is certainly welcome to enjoy wild sockeye, as do I and many of our employees who love sport fishing as much as anyone. We believe there is plenty of room for farmed and wild salmon in our oceans, as science is showing, and that they can sustainably co-exist for many years to come.
Campbell River, BC