Salmon Aquaculture

Impacts & Issues: Marine Mammals


Sea lions and fish farms cartoon by Raeside 

The shooting of marine mammals around fish farms has long been a source of controvery.

According to federal records, BC salmon farmers reported killing more than 6200 seals and sea lions between 1989 and 2000.

In addition, there have been unreported killings. For example, in April 2000, local residents found 14 dead sea lions in a pit, killed by a fish farm in Clayoquot Sound.

 Photo by Twyla Roscovich

Sea lion caught in predator net

Companies are supposed to report all predator shootings to federal officials. But they are not required to report on any marine mammals that get tangled in their nets and drown.

For example, in April 2007, entanglements at just two farms (one in Clayoquot Sound, the other in the Broughton Archipelago) caused the death of 52 sea lions, a harbour porpoise and a Pacific white-sided dolphin.


Salmon farms have also used deafening underwater acoustic harassment devices in an effort to chase away marine mammals -- animals which rely on their acute hearing to feed and survive.

Marine mammals must eat fish to survive, so it's only natural that they are drawn to netcages full of farmed salmon.

Is there a way marine mammals and salmon farmers can peacefully co-exist? Yes - the answer is for salmon farming to be done in closed containment systems.

Learn more:

  • In September 2011, DFO posted the counts of marine mammals shot or drowned at active salmon farms during the first quarter of 2011. A total of 141 California sea lions were deliberately shot; 37 harbour seals were reported shot or drowned in the nets; and perhaps most worrisome, two Steller sea lions, a species listed under the federal Species at Risk Act (SARA) as ‘of special concern', were shot by Mainstream at their West Side farm in the Clayoquot Sound Biosphere Reserve.    
  • Salmon Farms Pose Danger to Marine Animals - April 24, 2007