Log #58n An interesting old timer and problems with fish farming

September 13, 2014 in Logs by Series, Series 58, The Logs

April Cove, Campbell River, B.C.
Aug. 27, 2014
Hi Folks,
Here is yet another log. I hope you are keeping up with them. This one talks about a visit with an old timer, Bill Proctor and looks at the problems associated with fish farms. The pictures are not quite as dramatic as others, but the research about fish farms is disturbing.
I hope you got the three sections of Log #58x about the week’s holiday our friends had with us. I apologize for some of the duplications or other screw ups, but the internet and Hotmail frequently is unreliable, and I do not know what goes out or is suspended in cyberspace some times until after the fact. Thanks to a couple of recipients who responded and indicated the initial attachment did not go through.
We are back down in civilization now, having resupplied in both Port McNeill and today in Campbell River. We will probably go back into Desolation Sound for a few days before heading down to Gabriola Island in the Gulf Islands for an Ontario 32 rendezvous in mid September. The weather is good, and there are very few mosquitos and flies. This coast has great cruising.
All the best,

Log #58n An interesting old timer and problems with fish farming

April Cove, Campbell River, B.C.

Aug. 27, 2014

Around Echo Bay, in addition to Pierre’s resort and marina, nearby are Nikki’s Eco Tours, a Raincoast Research Society coastal station, and Billy Proctor’s Junk Museum. Bill is the last of a dying breed, an original trapper, fisherman and lumberjack who has lived in the Broughtons most of his over 80 years of life. He lives in an old house in the next bay from Pierre’s, where Nikki has built her log cabin overlooking Cramer Pass. A small museum and a replica of an early hand logger’s cabin were built by him to house much of the junk he has accumulated since he was a kid, and to recreate the sparse living conditions of the early hand loggers of the area.

He has organized his junk with interesting attractive displays in the wooden museum, having milled the lumber for it himself. The shelves are clean neat displays of things in categories such as bottles of coloured glass, beer and wine bottles, small medicine bottles, flasks and kegs. Another category includes fishing lures, flashers, spoons, plugs and minnows, as well as a variety of lead weights, reels, nets and gaffs. There is a venerable old Singer sewing machine, old fashion cast iron irons, cups, saucers, mugs, and cutlery; all things (junk) he has picked up on shorelines, dumps and abandoned work sites throughout his lifetime, complete with a sleepy old dog.






Rows of bottles








Small bottles fishing lures and flashers  


     Fishing plugs and coloured glass bottles 


   And a Sleepy old dog

I noticed on his old fishing boat down at the dock posters advocating against fish farms. Bill has become quite an environmental activist, and in that sense is a soul mate of Nikki who lives next door (actually in her log cabin 150 feet away along a path through grasses and bush). He has written a book “Full Moon, Flood Tide – Bill Proctor’s Raincoast” , (Harbour Publishing Company Ltd.) in conjunction with Yvonne Maximchuk, an artist writer and naturalist who has accompanied Bill on his trapline and fishing grounds. She encouraged him to put his memories and stories into the book, and did many of the illustrations for it.

The title was selected for the most significant factor affecting people who live by the sea: the big flood tides with each full moon. Salmon migrating to their spawning grounds come in from the ocean on full moon tides, and thus more fish are caught at full moon. Big tides also mean very low tides for digging clams, mussels, crabs and barnacles.

I had to ask Bill, why the opposition to fish farming. That got him going!





Talking with Bill

He claimed fish farms were responsible for the declining wild salmon stocks, polluting breeding grounds, and contributing to infestation. He threw statistics at me about the fact that salmon farming takes 2 to 5 pounds of fish meal to produce one pound of salmon. Salmon farming is associated with the spread of sea lice (salmon-specific salmon louse Lepeophtheirus salmonis), and diseases such as furnuculosis and infectious hematopoietic necrosis (IHN). Also harmful are fish farm preventative practices including acoustic harassment devices (to deter seals) which adversely affect whales and deafen seals, and nets painted with toxic  Flexgard XI containing the active ingredient 26.5% Cuprous Oxide, to prevent growth of seaweeds, barnacles and mussels, but ingested by fish nibbling on the nets.

The Law of Unintended Consequences is quite active in this issue. For example, when fish farms first were considered, an agreement was made to colour code the coast line with red, indicating areas where fish farms were not to be placed as these were good breeding grounds for wild fish, as established by hard won knowledge of First Nations and local fishermen. However these grounds are also the best locations for fish farms, and they moved in and the government did not stop them. The acoustic harassment devices intended to scare off the seals deafened them thus negating the effects, and to other seals farther away the sound was like a dinner bell to attract them.

Norwegian companies dominate the fish farming here on the west coast, possibly because by 1991, 70 % of Norway’s rivers experienced trouble with furunculosis. When these Atlantic salmon were introduced on the west  some wild coho were returned to a local enhancement hatchery with furnuculosis. Over 28% of the adult coho died in this hatchery, which was disease-free for the previous ten years.”

Let me quote from a Raincoast Research article about disease transfer from fish farming:




Disease transfer

Salmon farms differ fundamentally from terrestrial farms because their effluent flows directly, untreated into contact with wild species. While scientist have dubbed salmon farms pathogen culturing facilities (Bakke and Harris 1998), both provincial and federal governments in British Columbia refuse to examine the fate of bacteria, parasites and viruses emanating from salmon farms. Salmon are designed to move. Epidemics in wild fish are extremely rare, because, when pathogens strike – the sick drop out of the school and are eaten by predators.

Intensive farming, however, breaks natural laws of density, distribution bio-diversity and survival of the fittest. Disease is nature’s relentless response to over-crowding and so the farmers have to resort to drugs. Small bays which might support a few hundred salmon in intermittent bursts throughout the year, are now filled with up to 1,000,000 – 2,000,000 stationary salmon. This is the best thing to happen to fish pathogens on this coast since the glaciers receded. In such close proximity, the feces of the crowded fish pass over each other’s gills. Because the fish are confined and unable to migrate, pathogens accumulate into a rich broth. Antibiotics can keep most farm salmon alive long enough to reach market size, but leave the fish contagious, shedding pathogens into marine currents.

Let me close this rant from Bill with another quote from Raincoast Research


Feed the world?

Farming fish has been practiced for thousands of years, but not in the manner now underway on many temperate coasts worldwide today. Traditionally, fish that eat vegetable matter were used, such as carp or tilapia. For thousands of years Chinese fish farms have cycled waste from vegetable crops through their fish and then used the waste from the fish to fertilize the next vegetable crop. This sustainable, closed loop system created protein. In the late 1970’s however, a Norwegain hydro company, Norsk Hydro initiated the first corporate effort to farm salmon.

Salmon are carnivores. No one has successfully farmed a carnivore. A terrestrial equivalent would feed chickens to dogs and eat the dog. The underlying equation in farming carnivores is a net loss in protein, and would not be profitable if full price is paid for the feed. Salmon farming takes two – five pounds of wild fish to produce one pound of farm salmon. This represents a net global protein loss as most of the fish used to make pellets are high quality food fit for human consumption. In 1999, 189,000 tons of Chilean whiting was sold to the make fish farm pellets for $12.9 million, when it could have produced $102.9 million if sold for human consumption.

Salmon farming is not sustainable. It starves one ocean of fish, and pollutes another with the same fish. Its profit margin is so slight it can not afford to deal with its own waste. Its product is of questionable food quality being high in PCBs, low in omega oils and dyed pink. It is favoured politically because it produces salmon without a river, leaving the resource rich watersheds of British Columbia open for exploitation. It is a classic example of destruction of the commons to promote the privately owned.

Big business has influenced government services. When a diseased fish was sent to a lab, the lab was not co-operative. The following account is again from Raincoast Research.

Raincoast took three Atlantic salmon out of the Wakeman River with the help of sportfishermen. One of these had a swollen and gray mottled kidney – a classic symptom of some fish diseases. After this sample was sent to the lab for analysis – the lab refused to further communicate with Raincoast again – ever. This is a common reaction. When a local lab was contacted for testing, arrangements went smoothly until the species of fish was identified as Atlantic salmon. At that point the lab refused to accept the samples saying they would never work for industry or government again if they tested for disease in escaped farm salmon.

I have seen the large pens, accommodation and work docks and floating buildings, docks, cranes, and ships to carry fish to markets, but I have not yet gone alongside for a first hand discussion with commercial fish farm personnel. These are large institutional businesses, not small mom and pop privately run affairs. I hope to visit one before the end of this season sailing, and will report any revisions of my estimates of the industry. I do not think the shellfish farms are as detrimental to the environment, but I have not researched this yet.








A commercial fish farm off Knight Inlet

In my next log I will talk about a visit I had with a logging operation, about which I am not as critical.


http://www.raincoastresearch.org/home.htm – The Home Page for Raincoast Research

http://www.raincoastresearch.org/salmon-farming.htm – The page from which the quotes above were taken

http://www.raincoastresearch.org/about.htm – Information about Alexandra Morton one of the main movers behind Raincoast Research