Industrial salmon farms in British Columbia currently consist of open net-cage salmon pens anchored in the mouths of important wild salmon rivers. In fact, Canada is allowing more than 100 of these salmon feedlots to operate in primary wild salmon migration routes in the province. This exposes ecologically and economically valuable wild salmon runs to epidemics of disease, amplified levels of parasites, toxic chemicals, escaped invasive fish and concentrated farm waste. And there's proof: The proliferation of salmon feedlots has been linked to dramatic declines in British Columbia's wild salmon populations — plus the detection of a lethal salmon virus. The potential for epidemic diseases jeopardizes the health of every wild salmon run along the entire Pacific Coast, since the coast's fish stocks comingle in the ocean and estuaries.
To help protect wild salmon runs, the Center has organized an international coalition to challenge Canada's disastrous salmon aquaculture policies. In 2012, conservation, fishing and native groups in Canada and the United States filed a formal petition under a NAFTA environmental side-agreement requesting an international investigation into Canada's violation of its Fisheries Act in failing to protect wild salmon from disease and parasites spread by industrial fish feedlots. Our coalition seeks international action to close harmful marine feedlots and force Canada to relocate salmon aquaculture into contained tanks on land, allowing for the restoration of wild salmon runs and a healthy salmon fishery.