Vancouver Island Fish Farm, Lasting Toxic Contamination

Toxic contaminants from an old Kyuquot Sound salmon farm are leaving an endless, negative effect on the seabed of the surrounding area, according to a 2009 report by the B.C. Ministry of Environment.

It is estimated that the waters as far as 100 metres out from the Centre Cove salmon farm are polluted. Seabed marine life could take 15 years to recover, dating from the closing of the farm in 2004. Even worse, the toxic effects of the metals emitted from the salmon farm could last even longer.

The site of the Centre Cove salmon farm is located in Kyuquot Sound on the northwest coast of Vancouver Island. The farm is situated on the east side of Whiteley Island, at the northeast end of Kyuquot Channel.

The Ministry report found that:

…sulphide concentration and oxidation reduction potential in surface sediments were sensitive indicators of benthic organic enrichment. These are the two primary indicators used by the British Columbia Ministry of Environment (MoE) when monitoring farm impacts.

Marine finfish aquaculture can have measurable impacts on the marine environment, including changes to the benthic sediment chemistry and infauna, primarily in the immediate vicinity of the farms…. In addition to the chemical changes caused by organic enrichment, the benthic biological community can be altered and declines in diversity
can be observed

The Centre Cove site has been monitored since 2000 and was selected as the benthic impacts were more severe relative to other aquaculture sites. Chinook salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha) was raised on site from the mid-1980s to 2002. The area is highly depositional in nature and subject to low current speeds, both of which likely limit the rate of recovery.

The Vancouver Sun interviewed John Werring, a fisheries biologist with the David Suzuki Foundation. Werring stated, “it is notoriously one of the worst fish farms on the coast,” and that, “an unspecified number of other salmon farms along the B.C. coast are believed to be causing similar effects — ‘but we just don’t know how many.'” Moreover, “the province is considering regulatory changes that would actually make it easier for farms to discharge waste into the ocean.”

Read The Vancouver Sun’s coverage: ‘Toxic Contamination will Linger at Island Salmon Farm Site, Government Finds‘.

Review the B.C. Ministry of Environment’s report, ‘Chemical and Biological Remediation of Marine Sediments at a Fallowed Salmon Farm, Centre Cove, Kyuquot Sound, B.C.

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