Green MLA Adam Olsen says it's time to get Atlantic salmon out of B.C. waters

Washington lawmakers have voted to phase out open-net Atlantic salmon farming

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      A major blow has been inflicted on the Atlantic-salmon-farming industry in Washington State.

      This has one provincial lawmaker calling for similar action in the coastal waters of British Columbia.

      Saanich North and the Islands Green MLA Adam Olsen says the time has come to end open-net farming of Atlantic salmon.

      Olsen is a member of the Tsartlip First Nation and has long advocated for protecting the Salish Sea and Saanich Inlet.

      Last year, Tsartlip Chief Don Tom tweeted that an Atlantic salmon was found in Saanich Inlet. This came after massive escape from a Washington state fish farm in August.

      Olsen put out his tweet in the wake of the Washington state senate passing a bill phasing out net-pen Atlantic salmon farming by 2025.

      Green MLA Adam Olsen has bluntly stated his opposition to the farming of Atlantic salmon.

      Gov. Jay Inslee has said he will pass the bill. It came forward after more than 200,000 Atlantic salmon escaped last summer from a Cooke Aquaculture facility near Bellingham.

      The company initially blamed a solar eclipse.

      But according to the Seattle Times, a subsequent investigation determined that the escape was caused by the company's negligence.

      Olsen's call for an end to open-net Atlantic salmon farms has been applauded by Chief Robert Chamberlin, Owadi.

      Chamberlin is vice president of the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs and chief of the Kwikwasut’inuxw Haxwa’mis First Nation.

      Online petitions keep the pressure on politicians

      Meanwhile, there are at least two online petitions attracting the interest of B.C. opponents of open-net fish farming.

      In one, long-time industry critic and biologist Alexandra Morton has challenged B.C. salmon farmers "to debate their disease problem".

      "I think that farm salmon in BC have a serious disease problem that has put wild salmon at risk," Morton writes on the website. "The salmon farmers disagree and call my science 'false,' so I am challenging this industry to a public debate on the impact of piscine reovirus from farm salmon on Pacific salmon to settle this question before the virus spreads any further."

      This petition has attracted more than 12,000 signatures as of this writing.

      Atlantic salmon, like the one above, escaped in huge numbers last August from the Cooke Aquaculture facility near Bellingham.
      U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

      In addition, the Watershed Watch Salmon Society has launched an online petition as part of its Safe Passage campaign. It calls upon Fisheries Minister Dominic LeBlanc to remove fish farms from migration routes used by B.C.'s wild salmon.

      "Every year, millions of baby salmon must swim a gauntlet of foreign-owned, industrial salmon farms that spew clouds of viruses and parasites," the society states on its website. "Scientific evidence concludes that sea lice, parasites, and other disease from salmon farms threaten our wild fish."

      So far, more than 9,000 people have attached their names to the Watershed Watch petition, as of this writing.

      The society notes on its website that the 2012 Cohen Commission of Inquiry into the Decline of Sockeye Salmon in the Fraser River report recommended the removal of fish farms in the Discovery Islands area near Campbell River by 2020 unless there was no more than a "minimal risk of serious harm".