Clayoquot Sound UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, located on the west coast of Vancouver Island, is home to the largest ancient temperate rainforest on Vancouver Island.
Clayoquot has one of the densest concentrations of salmon feedlots on the BC coast, with 20 sites. Mainstream Canada (Cermaq), a Norwegian-owned company, is currently applying for a new tenure at Plover Point. They want to site their new 55.7 hecatre salmon feedlot along the shores of Meares Island, near Tofino. Meares Island was declared a tribal park by Tla-o-qui-aht First Nations 28 years ago because of it's ecological and cultural importance.
Transport Canada has already approved the environmental assessment of the application. Mainstream is currently awaiting license approval from the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans and from the B.C. government for the seabed lease.
Wild salmon are the life blood of Clayoquot Sound's ecology, culture, and economy. But wild salmon in the region are in serious trouble. Despite the abundance of pristine salmon habitat, Clayoquot's salmon runs (especially the Chinook) are in dramatic decline, with some runs now being counted in the tens, rather than in the tens of thousands. No wild salmon population anywhere in the world has thrived in close proximity to open net-cage salmon farms.
In May, Mainstream reported an outbreak of Infectious Haematopoietic Necrosis virus (IHN) on one of their open net-cage salmon farms in Clayoquot Sound. The farm was subsequently culled of 560,000 diseased fish.
Dr. Kristi Miller, head of the Molecular Genetics section at the Pacific Biological Station, Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO), found Infectious Salmon Anemia Virus (ISAv) and piscine reovirus (PRV) on two Creative Salmon farms in Clayoquot Sound last year. Although neither DFO or the Canadian Food Inspection Agency have responded to the detection of these deadly viruses with follow-up testing.
These viruses are highly contagious and can cause mortality in wild and farmed salmon. The threat to wild salmon is just one of the reasons why expansion of fish farms in the Clayoquot Sound Biosphere Reserve is opposed.
Amidst viral outbreaks and unanswered questions, Friends of Clayoquot Sound are calling on Premier Christy Clark to postpone any decision on Mainstream’s Plover Point application. Will you stand with us for wild salmon?