Salmon Aquaculture

Impacts & Issues: Escapes

Escaped Atlantics found in Wakeman River. Photo courtesy Alexandra Morton.The escape of farmed salmon threatens native wild fish.

BC's salmon farming industry has introduced the Atlantic salmon, a non-native species, into the Pacific ocean. The introduction of non-native species has been identified by the United Nations, environmental scientists and conservationists as one the greatest threats to global biodiversity.

By the industry's own reports, over one million farmed salmon escaped into BC waters from 1987 to 1996 alone. In 2004 the number was about 33,000. Atlantic salmon have already been found in over 80 streams. When farmed salmon escape, they pose threats to wild native species:

  • Escaped Atlantic salmon compete for wild salmon habitat and food
  • Escaped Atlantic salmon eat wild salmon fry and eggs
  • Escaped salmon can carry parasites and diseases

The effects of escaped Atlantic salmon breeding in BC's wild streams could be devastating to native wild salmon -- already fragile wild Pacific salmon are in danger of losing their only home.

"When Atlantic salmon escape, they compete with native Pacific salmon for food and space and spread disease."

Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Canadian Waters: Big Blue Bus Kid's Corner

"As these Atlantic salmon colonize these rivers, they are taking up space. It's an ecological ratchet. Every time a square metre is turned over to the Atlantic salmon, that square metre is not available to the Pacific steelhead."

Dr. John Volpe, University of Victoria

"Atlantic Salmon are considered to be an invasive threat in Alaskan waters."

Alaska Department of Fish & Game

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