Fallowed route not implemented during pink salmon outmigration

November 17, 2009

Letter to the Editor, Campbell River Courier Islander, Published: November 17, 2009
Earlier this year a note to anglers sent out from the Nimmo Bay Fishing Resort seemed overly optimistic.
“Salmon of all kinds in large numbers – a great year to go fishing!” it read.

Yet, that is exactly what happened as North Island and mainland inlet rivers saw large returns of chum, coho and chinook salmon; many having their best showing in more than a decade.

Pink salmon numbers were up sharply in almost every river on the south coast: the Quatse, Nimpkish, Campbell, Nanaimo, Puntledge and the Fraser to name only a few.

This is good news. But why such healthy returns this year?

The truth is, no one knows. Some have pointed to optimal conditions in the ocean when these tiny salmon out-migrated and others have pointed to management of salmon farms.

What we do know is that this year’s adult pink salmon out-migrated as juveniles during the spring of 2008.

As many may be aware, Marine Harvest Canada, in collaboration with several B.C. environmental groups had proposed a coordinated area management plan (CAMP) associated with our operations in the Broughton Archipelago.

The CAMP includes a number of elements including annual alternating migration corridors, a cap on total area production and science-based monitoring. To simplify: one corridor has no farmed fish while the corridor next to it holds first year farmed fish during the out migration season March 1 to June 30.

To monitor the effectiveness of this plan, sea lice data from active farms and wild salmon in both the fallowed and stocked corridors will be collected and analyzed by fisheries scientist, Dr. Crawford Revie and his team of researchers.

In order for CAMP to be fully implemented, various farms in the area require important, time limited amendments to their license.

Should the provincial Ministry of Agriculture take the necessary steps to ensure CAMP be fully implemented, monitoring will continue through 2014 providing a multi-year data set.

Recent letters to the editor have suggested that this fallow route was made available in 2008 – at the time when this year’s adult pink salmon went to sea.

We feel it necessary to correct those statements – the plan was not implemented in 2008.

While we are all excited to see wild salmon return in such high numbers this year, we also recognize the public concern about how our operations may affect our oceans.

We will continue to manage our farms to minimize or eliminate these potential risks, which includes the goal of full implementation of CAMP.

We will continue to keep you updated as to this progress.

Clare Backman
RPBio, Marine Harvest Canada