Every time I take a close look at a salmon farm I learn things that deepen my understanding of how salmon farms are disrupting and damaging the BC coast. With Dzawada’enuxw councillor Melissa Willie aboard we have had the opportunity to look into the mort totes on the farms. At Glacier Falls, owned by Marine Harvest, I learned they appear to be attempting to raise two age-classes of Atlantic salmon on the same site. This is a practice that was discontinued sometime, or so I thought. Does Marine Harvest hope to operate this farm continuously without fallowing and thus has several generations of fish here? Were all the dead Atlantic smolts simply fish that never grew? Or? I really don’t expect a straight answer at this point. There were a lot of fish finning and gasping at the surface at Glacier Fall, as we have seen at Venture Point, Brent Island, and Midsummer Island. This is unhealthy behaviour. They were pumping air into, but clearly the industry is trying to grow more fish in these locations of the BC coast, than the waters can support. Whether the problem with these fish was disease or oxygen we will never know. Why not just leave the smolts in tanks in the hatcheries, pump air into tanks and forget the sea pens? Just grow them a little longer in the tanks and spare the BC coast from disease, sea lice and tonnes of waster per day/per farm! I took a picture of a decidedly unspotted salmon in this farm, perhaps an Atlantic that never got its spots, or a wild salmon that went through the nets as a juvenile and remains? I would be curious what species people think the salmon on the left is? When a member of the Sea Shepherd crew went for a dive at this site we learned that a school of herring was actively feeding on pellet fragments pouring out of the pen whenever the feeders were on! Any information on what herring are doing in Musgamagw Dzawada’enuxw territory is important because despite the fish still being present, and a 30 – year ban on commercial fishing, the stock refuses to rebound. As the habitat they used to spawn on still exists and no one is fishing them and yet they refuse to rebound, the impact of salmon farms must be assessed. On August 11, 1988, a concerned DFO biologist wrote a memo on this: In January 2011 Marine Harvest was found guilty of tonnes illegal herring by-catch in their Arrow Pass farm. They were given a small fine and it would seem that it is business as usual. George Quocksister Jr. passed on these recent photos below of herring in a salmon farm. But what I learned at Glacier Falls is that the herring don’t need to actually be in the farm to be impacted. Norwegian researchers point out that salmon farms are “ecological traps” for wild fish. By interrupting the wild fish’s normal migration, distribution and diet the farms elevate potential for pathogen transfer and infection with sea lice. Because the herring are clustered against the nets, it is easier for predators to corral and kill them. It would appear they change the fish itself because these herring are now eating commercial farm salmon chow with farm animal products, additives to colour the flesh and whatever else is in the feed. I wondered - is the flesh of these herring turning pink? We took a few minutes to visit the 1,000 year-old cedar tree in the area. At the Cecil Island farm (Cermaq/Mitsubishi) we put down an underwater camera and found smothered and dying glass reef sponges. These sponges are a rare and significant reef formation of high ecological value under protection elsewhere on the BC coast. Norway knows their farms can have this impact “The impact on vulnerable habitats, such as corals, sponges, and areas of high ecological value, must be clarified… Cumulative impact on a regional level in areas with high production is an important issue to address in the future…” (Risk assessment-environmental impacts of Norwegian aquaculture Institute of Marine Research 2010). Listening to the 5 nations of the Dzawada’enuxw, voice their concerns salmon farming for 25 years “cumulative impacts” are a huge concern to them, and yet DFO does nothing. In 2008, I reported bubbling at this site. In response, DFO sent an underwater camera down. They wrote to me: “Ministry of Environment and DFO staff went to Cecil on September 9/10, 2008 and again took grab samples and video at multiple locations, including locations you provided to Bernie Taekema at the Ministry of Environment… there were no further bubbles seen, nor any information we could find to explain your observations.” (Kerra Hoyseth, Senior Aquaculture Biologist DFO, Dec 2010). Since they videoed several locations around this site, it seems they too should have seen the farm salmon waste smothering the rare glass reef sponges. As a participant in the Cohen Commission, I got to read DFO’s internal emails about this incident. Actually they did find the source of the bubbles… “In another sampling location… near where the community member had reported bubbles at the surface, our grab became entangled and we pulled up a mort pipe full of dead fish…The Operations Manager…was unable to explain how it got to that location, especially full of fish. The pipes are normally inside the pens… ” email from Nicole Obee to Kerra Hoyseth September 24, 2008. However, on the stand, Hoyseth, a senior biologist, claimed she did not know that rotting fish would produce bubbles… We put the underwater camera down at the Midsummer Island farm because oil droplets were rising to the surface alongside the farm. Farm salmon are so fat oil is release as they rot. At this site we found pink rotting flesh on a sea floor that was covered in deep dark grey drifts of sediment. At the Maude Island farm we found dead emaciated farm salmon in the mort tote. Piscine reovirus is known to cause emaciation and death in salmon. We know most of the industry is infected with PRV and we now know that the disease it is associated with, HSMI, appears to be in BC. While a BC government scientist keeps saying BC farmed salmon are healthy, but when I see fish like this in the few mort totes I have had the opportunity to look into, I think that this disease needs to be investigated outside of government by non-government labs as in Norway. However, non-government, even many government labs do not have access to farm salmon in BC. When we visited a mort float at the Burdwood farm we found a motion detection game camera lashed to the float… Having Melissa Willie, band councillor for the Dzawada’enuxw onboard has been an important education for all of us. My greatest hope is that we can serve the Dzawada’enuxw in their decades old battle to rid their territory of the salmon farming industry that is here against their demands that it leave the territory. This is a test of Justin Trudeau’s words of respect for First Nation governance and Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould’s ties to her traditional lands. Salmon farms belong on land where they can’t pollute, disrupt and kill wild fish.