Wild salmon populations are at risk across Canada, and if they disappear, it would have a huge impact on biodiversity and even the length and consistency of our winters.
Across Canada, industrial salmon farms are wreaking havoc on marine environments - which in turn has a major impact on surrounding ecosystems. This is because enormous amounts of fish feed, feces and chemicals are released into the surrounding water, destroying nutrients and food sources. In B.C., salmon farms produce the same amount of waste as a city of half a million people. What’s more, diseases flourish in high-density open net cages, and these diseases then spread to wild salmon populations. When farmed fish escape, they breed with wild species, creating hybrids that are less capable of survival.
Fraser River salmon numbers alone have plunged from approximately 9.6 million in 2014, to just 293,000 fish today.
In this blog, we’ll tell you how losing salmon will dramatically affect biodiversity and the health of our planet, and tell you how you can help.
Want to take action to protect salmon now? In B.C., the 79 remaining salmon licenses are up for renewal this month.
We’ve teamed up with our friends at Sea Legacy and Only One to call on the Canadian Minister of Fisheries to not to renew the last salmon farm licenses in British Columbia to prevent further devastation for salmon, and critical coastal ecosystems. Click here to send a letter to the Canadian Minister of Fisheries, Joyce Murray.
Want to learn more? Keep reading!
What have salmon got to do with snow??
Good question. Salmon are a keystone species, meaning they play a critical role in biodiversity and the health of natural environments. Wild salmon are an important food source for coastal predators including bears and wolves, who catch fish and carry them into the forest to feed on. The parts they leave behind are incredibly rich in nitrogen and other nutrients from the ocean. These nutrients act as a powerful fertilizer for forest trees - in fact, research shows that trees like Douglas fir, Sitka spruce and western red cedar rely on salmon for up to 80% of their nutrients.
Of course, the bigger these trees grow, and the longer they’re around, the more carbon they pull from the atmosphere. The world’s forests are the most significant carbon sinks we have, alongside the ocean, with rainforests alone pulling 0.5 gigatonnes of carbon out of the atmosphere each year.
Keeping atmospheric carbon at manageable levels is key to ensuring our planet has a stable climate and we can protect the places and activities we love. Right now we’re not doing so well at this - a recent report has shown that the amount of heat-trapping carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has shot past a key milestone — more than 50% higher than pre-industrial times (a level not seen for millions of years, before humans existed).
We need to use every tool in our kit to limit emissions and draw carbon out of the atmosphere, urgently. Unlike the pliocene era, the current effects of global heating are caused by us - but we also have everything we need to solve the problem. Nature-based solutions like protecting wild salmon, a vital contributor to the health of old-growth forests, is one simple step that we can take today to protect our planet.
Take action now to protect our forests: Join us in calling on the Minister of Fisheries to not renew the last salmon licenses in B.C.
A note on Indigenous rights
Many aquaculture operations have financial agreements with Indigenous and First Nations communities, and 20% of the industry’s employees identify as Indigenous. It is essential that the Minister factors in a just transition and works with local communities to ensure there is no impact on their wellbeing or employment opportunities.