Thursday, July 03, 2008

TENS OF THOUSANDS OF FARMED SALMON ESCAPE, THREATENING INDIGENOUS STOCKS

Anna Mehler Paperny, Globe & Mail, Canada Tens of thousands of farmed Atlantic salmon escaped from their pen into an inlet off the B.C. coast, a fish farm company said. If they survive, they could threaten already dwindling indigenous salmon stocks. Provincial officials are investigating the incident and the company owning the farm may face charges. Environmental groups say the mass escape demonstrates the dangers fish farms pose to wild salmon.

Strong ocean currents shifted a net holding 30,000 salmon in Marine Harvest's Frederick Arm farm site near Campbell River, pulling down a corner of the cage and allowing the fish to swim free, said Clare Backman of Marine Harvest. The company is not sure whether any fish were left in the pen, but it's possible all 30,000 escaped. . .

Jennifer Lash, executive director of the Living Oceans Society, said if the Atlantic salmon breed, they'll compete with wild salmon, whose stocks have already fallen sharply."You get juvenile Atlantics, they're not indigenous to the coast and they start competing with the wild salmon and they start putting the wild salmon at risk. Everything has to be done to stop having those Atlantic salmon in the ocean," she said. "Any time you bring in an invasive species or a non-indigenous species . . . it poses a threat to the existing biological diversity."