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Making the case against a salmon hatchery in Marystown

The Marystown hatchery is part of a larger picture that includes where the hatchery product, i.e. smolts and small salmon, end up.

A hatchery is a part of a production chain in which all the links must be considered.

Before considering this expansion any sensible approach would need to have gathered base-line disease studies of resident and migratory fish and shellfish to ascertain what was there naturally before the development happens.

We know brand new to science mutated strains of deadly fish viruses have been found in the dying caged fish but no serious wild fish have been tested. Ditto for more than 50 other pathogens amplified, mutated and/or spread by the pens.

There is no serious green crab population data to monitor the dramatic affects of net pens. Rotten fish (millions of salmon were left to rot all fall, winter and spring recently) feed invasive disease-carrying green crabs, diseases that decimate local shellfish, as was recently proven in a UPEI study and Nova Scotia lobster harvesters’ project.

Despite being decades old, there has never been any attempt at an effective local long-term monitoring of wild fish for population declines and health state due to aquaculture initiated, amplified, mutated and transferred pathogens (what industry calls “spill over”). This is despite a recent review of over 300 scientific papers that showed very significant negative impacts.

There is no effective re-capture method for escapes and no required reporting of escapes under 100 fish or even effective monitoring for escapes.

The current industry, before any suggested expansion, can have 20,000-plus fish become “unaccounted for” and blame the numbers on counting errors, etc., and not escapes due to the constant and consistently found numerous holes in the net pens. This is nearly as many salmon as all the wild rivers on the south coast are producing annually! Escaped fish eat food required by wild fish, spread diseases over vast areas, attract predators, interbreed with wild fish causing negative population affects by watering down good DNA with bad DNA, etc., etc.

There has been no long-term monitoring of pesticide effects and affects for toxins used to treat lice and disease, despite stacks of research publications, some by muzzled federal agencies, that show how detrimental this industry’s chemical addiction is to our once pristine bays.

What does dumping tens of millions of pounds of oily fish pellets do to migratory predators? There is no effective predator protection methods (e.g. sharks, tuna, seals, etc.). These predators make holes in flimsy net pens, which result in constant escapes.

This is not Norway. We have ice issues on bird protection netting which results in untold dead eagles annually. The deaths do not have to be reported publicly and no one is watching anyway. The eagles die due to rotting fish oil that constantly peculates up inside the net pen rings from the constantly dying fish and rotting feed pellets. As the eagles go for a snack, this oil fouls their feathers so they can’t fly or stay warm in winter. There is no effective solution and approximately 20 eagles died at one of the 55 sites recently. All never publicly reported.

The industry suggests there will not be any effluent from the proposed hatchery. But we all know that when tanks need to be sterilized and cleaned from disease outbreaks there will be effluent. This is inevitable. Will they pump out (millions of litres) the water laden with antibiotics and disease in the nearby (mere feet away) brook? The brook passes right next to the tank taps! Did they plan to build feet from a brook that is metres from the ocean? Who is monitoring what happens behind the barbed wire when the brook passed almost under the buildings? The hatchery project at St. Albans at least had enough guts to put on paper in their plan that they wanted to dump into the adjacent salmonid stream when things got nasty!

These companies have unrestricted access to deadly neurotoxins (used by the hundreds of kilograms annually) and enjoy voluntary reporting by convicted illegal pesticide smugglers and abusers. Moreover, their co-investor, the Department of Fisheries and Aquaculture, will not reveal amounts and types of antibiotics used nor require third party monitoring for antimicrobial resistance in the nearby environment despite World Health Organization and Canadian Antibiotic Resistance Alliance warnings targeted at this antibiotic addicted industry.

More than 60 per cent was recently exported to the many mainland temporary foreign workers this industry used. This occurred during our industry disease caused complete collapse. The processing done to those that stayed were mainly simply gutted. The actual people hours of employment are always hidden and mixed with other processing numbers and these generalized employment statistics never stand up under scrutiny. Those plants that do process have ineffective effluent treatment on every one of them that will not stop viral pathogens according to the most comprehensive study ever done on the subject – consisting of an esteemed panel of European Union fish vets. Blood filters simply don’t work against viruses, even when they are operating as designed, which is not every day.

There is no updated actions on the flimsy aquaculture plan, despite government making an announcement almost a year ago. There is no effective waste management of net pens dumping tens of millions of pounds of feed pellets into the bays annually – that also can result in wild fish larva eating tunicate and salp blooms on a biblical level as recently witnessed along our south coast! Isn’t it illegal to dump at sea for these very reasons? Dumping on this scale results in predator baiting on an industrial scale. Pity the fish outside the net pens.

Norwegian-made feed pellets have proven to be highly toxic. Nobody believes the self-reported conversion ratios of wild fish ground up to make salmon – stats that do not consider escapes, disease losses, etc.

The current level of policing of the vast areas involved is completely ineffective and requires some study as certainly the two or three staff involved have too many hats to wear already. Who’s watching? No one.

Where is this companies “social license”? Many, many residents do not want this, but instead want stable, total land-based, cleaner, more-efficient production. Government’s own survey shows 80 per cent disapproval of the current methods! NLOA, FFAW and every single eNGO in Canada from British Columbia to Newfoundland and Labrador want this industry contained on land. Perhaps that is why the Norwegian government just announced a $200 million NOK fund involving 18 of the top industry members to develop land-based salmon aquaculture into a off the shelf mass production “kit.” Maybe we should be backing one of the Canadian companies that are successfully growing salmon to market size in self-contained land-based tanks.

Doesn’t this company have a horrid reputation internationally for lies, cover-ups, misreporting, smuggling and refusing to do the research required to show how large the negative impacts are of the open net pen method? Simply buying cheap wild fish protein in poor areas, depriving local cultures, and use it to make feed pellets to feed wealthy G8 consumers is fish reduction. With free bio-insurance (funded by tax payers) for self-created disease outbreaks, free labs and support, and the least protective laws in the G8, no wonder the Norwegians are running here after wearing out their welcome and facing financial/biological messed in Chile and Norway! Pity our Canadian land-based operations.

I beg the people of Marystown to speak with people like me about using bio-insecure wild lakes as grow-ops, thus amplifying diseases like whirling disease in the predator excluding pens and then allowing these constantly sick fish to be sold as human food to carry these deadly fish pathogens all over Newfoundland and Labrador and Canada as is happening right now in our province.

Please consider the risks of having open net pens and miles of three-inch ropes strewn across bays used by oil super tankers. How many cages have been lost at sea in the last 10 years? Lots! Study the many facets of this method and the ramifications of allowing deadly toxins to be imported in uncontrolled amounts and administered in uncontrolled amounts, using unwatched methods, and then voluntarily reported by convicted smugglers of illegal pesticides. It’s criminal.

Bill Bryden


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