British Columbia is at a crossroads. For thousands of years wild salmon have been a central part of life on the West Coast. Under pressure from continued habitat loss and overfishing, however, the future of wild salmon is now in question.
Salmon farmers have responded with promises of endless crops of farmed salmon and hundreds of jobs for coastal communities. In 1999, 48300 tonnes of farmed salmon were produced in BC, 85% of which was non-indigenous Atlantic salmon. In Clayoquot Sound there are currently 23 active salmon farming sites.
Because both the Canadian and BC governments act as advocates for the industry, it has fallen to First Nations and environmentalists to point out that salmon farming has significant social and environmental costs.
INDUSTRIAL DISEASE The Risk of Disease Transfer from Farmed to Wild Salmon
Risks To Human Health
(Most of this information is from our 16 page report FARMED AND DANGEROUS: Human Health Risks Associated With Salmon Farming. Please click here to get it from our campaigns section.)
FARMED AND DANGEROUS Human Health Risks Associated With Salmon Farming
* In 1998, salmon farmers in BC used a total of 6.4 metric tonnes of antibiotics for their salmon production. The antibiotics are administered to the salmon in their feed.
* Ministry of Health monitoring indicates that there are occasions when farmed salmon with antibiotic residue levels higher than government recommended 'safe' lavels makes it to market.
* What is considered a 'safe' antibiotic residue level is very uncertain and is based mainly on potential allergic reactions. It does not consider possible long term effects.
* Most of the farmed salmon headed for market has some antibiotic residue even though it may be below the so called 'safe' levels.
* long-term exposure to antibiotics in humans and salmon has been shown to lead to increases in antibiotic resistant strains of bacteria which cause disease in humans. This makes it more difficult to treat such diseases
* A study conducted in 2001 has shown that farmed salmon contain up to 10 times the level of PCB's and Dioxins as found in wild salmon. (These are toxic chemicals which mainly affect the central nervous system).
* Farmed salmon contain higher levels of unhealthy saturated fats and lower levels of beneficial omega-3 fatty acids, compared to wild salmon. Saturated fats contribute to human health problems such as heart disease and stroke while omega-3 fatty acids reduces the risk of such diseases.