BC’s Anti-Salmon Farming Activist Is Wrong Again

No link between wild salmon return in British Columbia and active salmon farms

By Fabian Dawson

British Columbia’s anti-fish farming activists are world famous for spreading falsehoods about salmon aquaculture on Canada’s west coast.

And they’re it again, this time we wrap up the expected strong return of many species of Pacific salmon to the closure of a few salmon farms in the Broughton archipelago.

Bob Chamberlin of the First Nations Wild Salmon Alliance leads the pack with nothing but scientific flaw speculation.

Chamberlin, whose group wants open-net farms removed from BC waters, has circulated his claims through some media outlets that faithfully report on his rhetoric without disputing his claims.

In several appearances on Vancouver’s radio, newspaper and television news this week, Chamberlin speculated that the closure of some salmon farms in the Broughton Archipelago area in 2020 will result in a strong return of pink salmon returning to the Ahta River this year to spawn.

His press release claimed that this is “conclusive evidence” that salmon farms are a “main cause” of the decline of wild salmon.

“His sound bites may sound simple, but his facts just don’t add up,” said Ruth Salmon, interim director of the BC Salmon Farmers Association.

“In his eagerness to join the wave of good news about the potential strong return of many species of Pacific salmon returning to rivers in BC this year, Mr Chamberlin has seriously misrepresented historical data and relied on speculation to support his unwavering belief. to prove that there is a link between the return of wild salmon and salmon farms,” she said.

“The facts, however, are that there is no causation, let alone correlation, with regard to salmon farm activity and salmon yields… Pink salmon yields are highly variable, so much so that in any year can pick a single river and make up a story to support their faith.”

The Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) has also poured cold water on Chamberlin’s claims and provided a scientific explanation behind the robust salmon return in 2022.

“The bottom line: it’s the cooler conditions,” reports Salmon Business.

DFO said some salmon species, such as Sockeye, that returned to spawn in 2022 have invaded the ocean during the end of an offshore heat wave and experienced cooler conditions associated with a La Nina from the second half of 2020, causing extremely warm temperatures. ocean temperatures of developing.

“Cooler conditions are generally more favorable for food resources and the growth and survival of salmon at sea. Three consecutive years of La Nina conditions favor most salmon populations,” said DFO Salmon Business.

The stock that is seen to return more abundantly is sockeye. DFO estimates that 4.3 million Sockeye will return this year based on the 50 percent yields observed in the test fishing area so far. Full data is expected in December.

Meanwhile, the BC Salmon Farmers Association (BCSFA) has issued a statement with facts and data to refute Chamberlin’s claims about the return of pink salmon in the Ahta River;

  • In the ‘even’ years, an average of 19,291 pink salmon have returned to the Ahta River over the past ten years (return of pink salmon in two-year cycles).
  • 907 salmon returned in 2020 – a relatively low yield that reflected the shore-wide low yield of most species of Pacific salmon (Mr Chamberlin erroneously lists this number as 200). 11 salmon farms were active during the migration (moving from rivers to the open sea) for these salmon (March 2019).
  • A record return of 68,871 pink salmon back in 2014. A total of 12 salmon farms were active in the area during this migration (March 2013).
  • A total of 11 salmon farms were active during this year’s return migration (2022) (March 2021). Returning populations for this year have yet to be confirmed by fisheries experts, but early reports suggest strong returns of pink and sockeye salmon may occur in many regions of BC

“For many years, we’ve been frustratingly witnessing anti-salmon farming campaigners go to the media early with speculation and anecdotes to influence negative headlines about salmon farming in British Columbia,” said BCSFA’s Ruth Salmon.

“The facts — which never get the same media attention as the critiques — have not once supported these allegations.”

Several court decisions and a series of scientific studies have shown that open-net farming in BC and adjacent waters poses no more than minimal risk to wild salmon. But the activists, including Chamberlin, have refused to believe any science that contradicts their beliefs.

(Screenshot of a YouTube video showing Bob Chamberlin)

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