What you need to know about the protection of Canadian Salmon

A fresh piece of Salmon is one of my favorite meals. On the other hand, like most people I don’t have time or the expertise to think about the environmental protection of Salmon. Unfortunately, it is becoming an important and decisive issue. Salmon populations are on the decline in British Columbia and are at their lowest lives since 1983. That is why Canada's leading scientist, Mona Nemer, has launched an independent panel to investigate the effects of fish farming on Salmon population in British Columbia. 


Who Will Speak for the Sea? Hopefully Scientist

At the time of publication, Salmon in British Columbia are not an endangered species or even a threatened species. Therefore the government of Canada is doing nothing to protect Salmon in British Columbia even though there populations are on the decline. The decision to protect the species is certainly political, but scientist have been coming together to protect British Columbia Salmon before it is to late. 

Right now, there are two major government backed scientific groups investigating the decline of Salmon in British Columbia. The first one is being lead by Canada’s Chief Science Officer Mona Nemer. She is chairing a panel of 10 scientist to “the appropriate use of scientific evidence in decisions concerning aquaculture”. This is panel is in response to continuing debate among different organizations over the different causes for the decline in Salmon populations. Environmental have pointed to the effects of farm fishing,  while fish farms have been actively denying the accusation. Hopefully the panel can determine the amount of responsible the farmer own.  

The other body is the Committee of Wildlife in Canada. The body is responsible for deciding what animals enter endangered and threatened status. Salmon are not anywhere close to being endangered, but it is the responsible of this committee to monitor Salmon populations and make recommendations on how to prevent further decline. The critical to find a balanced approach. Unlike toxic waste or fossil fuels, no one wants to see a total ban on all forms of fishing. This bodies need to find a sustainable and economic feasible approach.


Learn More About Canada's Chief Science Adviser Here  



Studying biology in school is always very straight for. Even in advanced biology classes you are usually dealing with one sample in a highly controlled environment. Prior to the experiment you usually have a pretty good idea of what the outcome will be. In the real world science is nothing like that. While it is obvious that Salmon population in British Columbia are on the decline it is difficult to find the exact cause since it is clearly due to a combination of factors.

The most obviously culprit is clearly climate change. Changing temperature has affected the life cycle of virtually every species in the world, expect for humans. Salmon have evolved to adapt to a very specific climate. The fact that the water in British Colombia is warmer can negatively effect Salmon ability to spawn and metabolism food. The consensus on climate is clear, especially for organizations like the ones I have already mentioned, but there are other man made factors that are effecting these populations.

The effects of industrialization on Salmon populations are complex and open to debate. The farm fishing was a processed designed originally to prevent over-fishing, but over the years it has had a harmful effect on natural Salmon population. The problem with large scale salmon farms is that the can carry huge populations of parasites like Salmon Lice. Sea Lice are small parasites that attach themselves to Salmon, kill them prematurely.

In some ways this is a good problem. Climate Change can be a difficult problems to tackle. On the other hand, if there is a specific parasitic reducing the fish population and if it is contained to a specific place it is far easier treat the problem. Unfortunately fish farmers have been reluctant to adopt preventive measure since there has been some debate whether or not Sea Lice are coming from Salmon farms. This will be a major point of discussion for Mona Nemer's independent panel.

Learn about what the Governor General think about Climate Change Denial 



Unfortunately, I cannot offer a solution today. It will takes years to measure the population in Salmon in British Columbia and even longer to create legislation that would protect the Salmon populations. Both the independent panel Mona Nemer's panel and the Committee of Wildlife in Canada will have to work for weeks before they can find a recommendation that will balance the desires of environmental groups and large-scale fish farmers. The unfortunate part of this is issue is that when you think over evil organizations that are destroying the world, you think of mining companies and oil companies; no thinks of fishermen.

The silver lining in all of this those is the we are working towards a solution. It is unfortunate that are issue as simple of this faces political obstacles, but government policies don't need to be zero sum. It is possible for both of the organizations to present solution that will make everyone happy. Since they are starting early there is a lot of time for that to happen.  

Learn More About Pacific Salmon 

Matthew Griffin