Farmed and Dangerous?

Episode Description

People love to eat salmon, but chances are that salmon is not wild. Globally, over 70% of the salmon we eat is raised on fish farms in the open ocean. Does it matter? And is it true that salmon farms, which are supposed to take the pressure off wild salmon stocks, might be wiping them out? To find out, the Brothers immerse themselves in the worlds of both wild and farmed salmon in one of the most beautiful places on earth.

Want to Know More?

Read Alex’s Huffington Post article to learn more about this issue.

The Water Brothers’ entire research and production team really appreciate and respect the unique opportunity we have been given to explore the leading water stories of our time and foremost to show viewers how multi-faceted and often complex the related issues and solutions can be in rapidly changing environments. Our ultimate goal is to present a balanced point of view and in that important context, we very much rely on the cooperation of the involved parties and elements in our subject matters and as such are very grateful to all the participants in our episodes whether scientists, economic and business experts, company representatives, government officials, organizations and individuals and communities at the centre of some of these stories.

- The Water Brothers


There has been a significant amount of discussion and debate around this episode. We feel the episode speaks for itself; here’s what others had to say:

BC Salmon Farmers Association Opinion Editorial

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84 thoughts on “Farmed and Dangerous?

  1. We have changed the link to the rebuttal Mainstream Canada posted regarding this film. Anyone interested in learning what the Water Brothers omitted from their film, despite having access to the facts, can view them here.

    In response to the discussion here, if anyone has actual evidence to support their claims that fish waste is harmful, or that salmon farms actually pose any significant threat to wild salmon, or that I have lied and misrepresented the facts in any way, I would be more than happy to review and consider the evidence.

  2. It’s interesting to hear BC Salmon Farm industry representatives like grant and ian here continue with their strategies of misinformation and diversion. Some here might remember their initial facebook attempt called BC salmon farm facts, or something to that effect. (I know Ian’s dog does, remember that condescending blah you liked to use back then ian? Just an innocent farmer eh…that’s laughable.)

    Back then any discussion that brought to light facts that were considered dangerous to the industry or not in tune with their PR campaighn at the time, was deleted…remember the small forage feed fish grant, that was indeed funny…you certainly did lose it there. I expect the boses weren’t too happy with you guys botching those discussions so badly. So many points now, but at least the shoe is on the other foot now. You can’t delete these discussions. Your attempts to bully and gang up on those whose points weren’t appreciated don’t go over so well when it isn’t your site do they.

    What everyone has to keep in mind here is these people have an agenda. They are motivated by profit and profits go down with more stringent regulations and checks within the industry. These people are motivated by money, and they make decent money, at the expense of our resource.

    Nice to see you two still don’t bring enough wit to the table to sway the opinions of the masses. The PR campaign is failing, as is your business strategy. Time to suck it up and start putting your efforts into changing. Adapt or fail. On land you go!

    1. “What everyone has to keep in mind here is these people have an agenda. They are motivated by profit and profits go down with more stringent regulations and checks within the industry.”

      Are you sure about that Adam?

      We aren’t talking about the old paint factory on the river here…

      Just how do you propose “stringent regulations and checks” reduce profits?

      Like how ensuring our nets are maintained so we don’t lose fish – which we would then be unable to sell?

      Like regularly testing our fish for disease – so they live to be harvested and sold?

      Like monitoring the bottom under the pens – so we can make sure all that expensive feed we buy is used efficiently and not wasted?

      Like enforcing the 70-odd aquaculture specific regulations that manage farms – so in BC we can continue to operate to some of the highest standards in the world?

      Aquaculture seems to be the only industry out there where the use of green energy – solar and tidal – is frowned upon, somehow being seen as a negative thing.

      For all the critical energy spent attacking it, aquaculture looks to have some of the highest efficiencies and smallest footprints out there when comparing other methods of protein production.

      I guess when the reality of the situation doesn’t align with your views it is key to remove context and insert fear in order to gain support.

  3. I would ask the salmon farming industry this: why not take advantage of what seems to me to be a HUGE business opportunity: the first significant operation to grow salmon 100% on land (not just 1/3 of their life), and feed them 100% non-fish protein diet, will in my opinion be able to sell a superior, premium priced product!

    As a consumer, given a choice, which farmed fish would you choose: open ocean net pen raised or closed containment raised? I cannot believe that a huge segment of consumers would not be willing to pay a premium for that product. The marketing opportunities and business advantages are mind-boggling. “Protect wild salmon!”. “Conserve our wild feed fish stocks!”. “Eliminate disease transfer!” just to name a few marketing angles.

    From a business perspective, a need is not being met. That’s where creative businesses thrive.

    Why keep fighting the losing PR battle that surrounds your product? Why keep trying to change peoples minds? In the history of the world, trying to change peoples minds has proven to be a very poor strategy from a business perspective. Instead, why not get ahead of the game and capitalize on it?

    Oh, and to declare my bias, I am 100% for farmed salmon, but 100% against net pen farming. I just think there actually is a profitable way around the issue.

    1. Dennis, to be fair, there is also a list as long of land-based aquaculture business that have wrapped up because they were losing money. New York, Utah, British Columbia are just a few recent ones.

      If you think it’s a gold rush, then perhaps you should invest your money and we’ll get an update from you in about 6 years.

  4. It’s a nice video, but I must admit that the lack of balance is disturbing. When the show is about salmon farms, I would expect the salmon farmers to be given at least 50% of the airtime. But apparently they were given less than a 1/3. This would suggest that the Water Brothers had to omit the information they heard from salmon farmers that didn’t fit their script, and that is just dishonest.

    Regardless of how one feels about salmon farming (right or wrong), the viewer should get a balanced and fact based story so they can make up their own minds.

    The Water Brothers failed on this one.

    1. @ Janet Pearson:

      Insofar as public media are concerned, journalistic ‘balance’ is a relatively subjective concept; in this case, 50% of airtime should not have been allotted per se, without consideration as to the actual integrity of overall content.

      More specifically, if the balance of an interviewed subject’s submissions consists clearly of untruths and deceptions, should they be allotted equal consideration regardless of circumstance? Or, as a respectful journalist, would doing so jeopardize one’s own integrity, and, in effect, that of one’s audience?

      I, personally, would accept the latter; simply because a submission is given should not license it unquestioned legitimacy, certainly insofar as a receptive audience is concerned.

      1. Hi Thomas, with all respect, I think it is the opposite of what you assert. The Water Brothers chose to include activists statements that were at best, less-than-factual. As pointed to in this letter to TVO, there were statements made by the anti-salmon farming activists, and omissions made by Water Brothers that indicate that facts were surpressed. If you can provide facts that counter the letter please share.

        I would think that if the Water Brothers had received “untruths and deceptions” from salmon farmers, they would have included this in the program, accompanied by activist’s response to the “untruths”. This didn’t happen, suggesting that the information supplied to the Water Brothers by salmon farmers was based on fact – just not included in the story, unfortunately.

        However, there was “untruths and deceptions” asserted by the activists (for example – as Ian points out – despite John Volpee’s claim, there was signifant science and history considered when allowing culture of Atlantic salmon). This “untruth” should have been addressed by the Water Brothers – but they failed to do so.

        1. @ Janet Pearson:

          H’mm … rather the Salmon Aquaculture industry apologist, aren’t we?

          In any case, I’ll take it that the “untruths and deceptions from salmon farmers” that you had alluded to has been thoroughly addressed within your referenced letter to TVO.

          As such, I will address each of the claimed “untruths” and/or “deceptions” as posited:

          1. That ISAv has not yet been ‘confirmed’ as detected on the west coast of BC, is somewhat of a minor miracle. ISAv has been found in salmon farming environments throughout the world, wherever and whenever open-net salmon aquaculture has occurred, those including the east coast of Canada and the US, Norway, Scotland, and Chile, amongst others, eventually erupting in contagions that have decimated existing wild fisheries.

          Sound familiar? What do you suppose makes the marine coast environment of BC so exceptional, given that the very same checks and processes have been employed in these other affected regions?

          What it boils down to is this:

          Tests designed NOT to confirm the presence of ISAv WILL NOT confirm the presence of ISAv.

          The methodology used by the CFIA will only accept the presence of a viral pathogen if either clinical signs of disease are indicated, or if it can be cultured in a laboratory environment. Never mind that successful cell cultures of ISAv are extremely difficult to execute, and can only be produced from samples that are immediately sourced from already dead or dying fish. These, with respect to farmed salmon, are denied to third parties of interest.

          The presence of RNA genetic markers, even partial, precisely matching patterns hundreds of segments long, will not, according to CFIA requirements, even constitute a ‘WEAK POSITIVE’ indication, versus their eventual result: a NEGATIVE interpretation.

          In other words, PARTIAL RNA-pattern matches equal NON-CONFIRMATION, in the CFIA’s books.

          See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil.

          Quite handy if you intend to deny the presence of a virus that actually exists.

          Not to mention, the precautionary principle be damned.

          This rigid ‘virus isolation’ standard, however, is not similarly applied by top-tier OIE testing facilities throughout the world.

          RNA segments of European-sourced ISAv since have been found consistently in samples of Fraser Sockeye, as well as in the majority of store-bought BC-farmed Atlantic salmon.

          The USA (and China) has a policy that does not allow the importation of ISAv-contaminated salmon; therefore, being ISA-free is critical to accessing the enormous US market, which is critical to the survival of the BC-based Norwegian salmon feedlot industry. Otherwise, acknowledgement of such would mean the death of that industry as we know it.

          2. The salmon farming industry, through the means of its majority Norwegian-owned operations, has since obtained vast supplies of Atlantic salmon eggs.

          The Provincial Ministry of Environment’s Dave Narver, Harvey Andrusak, Earl Warnock and others were warning the Province of BC throughout the 1990s. Dr. Gary Hoskins of the Pacific Biological Station was warning the federal government in long detailed memos that the door was wide open for disease from Atlantic salmon eggs. Pat Chamut, the highest ranking DFO officer in BC tried to stop the Atlantic eggs saying they would bring exotic viruses, but he could not stop this either.

          Based on a submitted paper to the Cohen Commission and associated provincial and federal documents in December of 2011 on the decline of Fraser River sockeye, the result was the following: from 1985 to 1988 over 5.255 million eggs were sourced from Scotland and Washington state; from 1991 to 1995 over 2.186 million eggs from Scotland, Ireland and Washington State; from 1996 to 2002 over 11.2 million eggs from Washington State;

          In 2003, through the threat of free-trade actions and ensuing trade sanctions in waiving Canadian Fish Health Protection Regulations, Atlantic salmon eggs were allowed to be imported from a hatchery in Iceland that did not meet Canadian protection standards (Canadian Fish Health Protection regulations (FHPR): Oct 2, 2011 Cohen Commission, Exhibit) — this resulted in NO CONFIRMATION of testing for the presence of ISAv (nor that of PRV) beforehand, and the subsequent sourcing from 2004 to 2009 of over 8 million eggs from Iceland.

          These eggs were from the same sources that had supplied Chilean salmon aquaculture fisheries, which eventually had suffered extensive, disastrous ISA conflagrations, resulting in up to 2 billion dollars in financial losses. Additionally, the permanent presence of ISAv is now established in Chile’s marine environment.

          3. Atlantic salmon may or may not have colonized BC rivers, but one thing is certain: net-pens are poor containment structures and escaped farmed salmon can compete with wild salmon for food and spawning habitat. Nets can tear and when they do, farmed salmon escape through the gaps. Escaped farmed Atlantics can compete with Pacific wild salmon for food and habitat, disturb or disrupt the spawning behaviour and redds (egg nests) of wild salmon and spread diseases and parasites to the wild fish.

          Over 1 million farmed salmon escaped into BC waters between 1987 and 1996. In 2008, 111,000 farmed salmon were reported to have escaped from salmon farms in BC. In 2009, one escape of 47,000 Atlantic salmon was not reported to the public until after fishermen began catching Atlantic salmon in their nets. At the end of 2010 another 15,700 Atlantic salmon escaped into B.C. waters from a farm using the latest net-pen technology and was only made public in the parent company’s quarterly report.

          While Atlantic salmon cannot breed with Pacific salmon, in 1998 escaped farmed Atlantic salmon were found to have produced young in the Tsitika River on Vancouver Island. Atlantic salmon since have been spotted in over 80 B.C. rivers and have been caught by fishermen in Alaska over 250 kilometres from the nearest salmon farm.

          4. Insofar as ongoing disease-free fish health management is concerned, let’s take the progress of Canadian east coast salmon aquaculture fisheries into account. The vast majority of these operations are owned and operated by the same multi-national corporations, and run under the VERY SAME methods and guidelines.

          The fact is, current rampant ISA outbreaks throughout salmon aquaculture stocks in New Brunswick and Nova Scotia are now so unmanageable that the CFIA has revised its restrictions — in contrast to regulatory agencies in the US and China, which ban the importation of ISAv-infected fish stocks — for Canadian human consumption of the same (WITHOUT consumer notification). This was implemented, by the way, to offset recent federal budget restraints, which limit the ability of the government to pay for the costs of ordered culls as required by legislation. The government has paid out an estimated $100 million in compensation since the virus first surfaced in the Maritimes in 1996.

          For further information on the status of established ISA outbreaks on the east coast, you may go to the following links:

        2. @ Janet Pearson:

          CORRECTION: Oops! The second line in my submission above should have read:

          In any case, I’ll take it that the “untruths and deceptions asserted by the activists” that you had alluded to have been thoroughly addressed within your referenced letter to TVO.

          – My bad!

        3. @ Janet Pearson:

          Rather quiet now, aren’t we?

          Well, it looks as if Mary Ellen Walling (Executive Director of the BC Salmon Farmers Association, cum-uber-aggressive industry lobbyist that she is) has been caught yet again on her web of deceptions, as expressed in your referenced open letter to TVO — that which had demeaned the integrity and sincere efforts of the Water Brothers and others who oppose the apparently corrupt foreign-corporate salmon aquaculture industry.

          So why the lies? Why the manipulation and gross misinformation?

          I shall leave that up to you …

  5. Excellent topic – too bad I can not watch the viedo in Caliornia. I was in BC recently and this issue was brought up during a whale watching trip. I love salmon but don’t like the taste of farm-raised fish. It makes sense to me that wild life should remain wild – it just seems natural

  6. thank you for a brilliant episode and carefully researched. I have worked on this issue for many years and I did not spot a single factual flaw – Bravo!

  7. Firs off! These farms are not farms they are feed lots. They are no different than a feedlot of Chickens, Cows, or Sheep. Feed lots produce disease and that’s a fact. A fish feedlot is no different except that this fish are conivorous. We can not raise conivors fish in captivity safely. When you grow a conivor in captivity you break all natural laws and when you do that you pay. You pay with disease, just look at Pigs, Cows, Chickens and whatever we grow in feedlots. There is always the problem of disease. Feedlots of fish in the ocean can not be stopped from spreading disease. The main thing people are not hearing here is disease. We are risking it all for the farmed fish when if we would just look after the real farm ( the ocean ) and the real hatcheries ( rivers and Streams ) we wouldn’t be in this mess.

    The other thing I would like to point out is that people that are against feedlots are not against aquaculture. There against the fact thaat fish feedlots are on the migration routes of our wild fish. There against the fact that to many wild forage fish are being used to grow farmed fish. These problems must be fixed or we will not have what we have, Change is a hard thing to do but it must be done NOW! This part of the world has Salmon and if we take care of it there will be enough Salmon for this part of the world. The rest of the world that doesn’t have Salmon isn’t supposed to have Salmon. If the did the would have it there in naturally.

    Because we can ship Salmon all over the world by using fossil fuel doesn’t mean we should be doing it. This industry will crash and when it does we wont have anything left. I don understand why people can;t see the light. The ocean can only take so much abuse and at the moment the ocean doesn’t need us to put anymore pressure on it than it already has. What happens when the Salmon feedlot industry runs out of forage fish to feed there Salmon? When they do everything else runs out of food as well. The whole Ecosystem is being put at risk for this industry just take a look around the world and see what it has done where ever it shows up. Believe me when I say it’s never a positive impact on the environment.


    1. I completely agree. Why we are putting a keystone species like our wild salmon at risk for the sake of a few jobs and the profits of multinational corporations is beyond me. Feed lot fish are gross and the way they are produced is so entirely unnatural it is frightening. Our government departments seem to be going out of their way to ensure that no real science occurs here and if it does it then muzzles the scientists.

  8. @ Ian Roberts, James Costello, Grant Warkentin:

    We should give credit as due to Twyla Roscovich: her tag on you as ‘hired PR’ is actually a generous compliment, whereas you should be more accurately conveyed as ‘common corporate shills’ — either paid as such, or otherwise (although the latter does seriously beg the question …).

    In the meantime, how about allowing random, transparent, verifiable independent third-party testing of your fish farm stocks (particularly that for the presence of ISAv — as opposed to the ACTUAL testing of wild stocks alone, in which viral effects can result in differing, non-conclusive characteristics)?

    You could be very well be attempting to conceal new strains of viruses, including those of ISA and PRV,* that may not have yet evolved to their full potential, not particularly affecting unstressed, stationary feedlot Atlantics, but that could be devastating to free, migratory wild Pacific stocks. This may be just conjecture, but such cannot be disproven without full independent public scrutiny of extant test results, past, present and future.

    If you have nothing to hide, then allow independent third-party testing, and make public your records — that is, before they may be tragically lost due to accident, arson, other malfeasance, or what have you…

    By the way, the latter would include behind-the-scenes lobbying for the passage of criminal statutes by the BC provincial government which would effectively prohibit the release of information regarding disease outbreaks from salmon aquaculture sources at the pain of 2 years imprisonment and/or $75,000 in fines — despite the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act, and overriding the Offense Act (FYI, the proposed legislation is referred to as Bill 37 under the Animal Health Act, and is still on the table).

    For further information on Bill 37, you may go to the following link:

    The routine destruction by the foreign-corporate salmon aquaculture industry of EVERY SINGLE existing marine environment throughout the world — wherever and whenever they have since been introduced — clearly puts your points to the lie. Your misinformation would be laughable if they weren’t the root of such unforgivable and widespread tragic consequences.

    It is certainly in your own best interests — and ONLY your own — to maintain the proven abject failure of a system that has already devastated the native wild fisheries and the marine and freshwater habitats of Norway, Scotland, and eastern Canada, and as such, has established the permanent presence of ISAv in the native marine environments of Chile.

    The fact is, current rampant ISA outbreaks throughout salmon aquaculture stocks in New Brunswick and Nova Scotia are now so unmanageable that the CFIA has revised its restrictions — in contrast to regulatory agencies in the US and China, which ban the importation of ISAv-infected fish stocks — for Canadian human consumption of the same (WITHOUT notification). This was implemented, by the way, to offset recent federal budget restraints, which limits the ability of the government to pay for the costs of ordered culls as required by legislation. The government has paid out an estimated $100 million in compensation since the virus first surfaced in the Maritimes in 1996.

    Now please do us and the world an immense favour: pack your infectious, soulless foreign-corporate owned infrastructure off our shores, away from what is left of our wild salmon stocks so that they may recover — indeed if they can. Contaminate our BC coastline no longer.

    For further information on the status of established ISA outbreaks on the east coast, you may go to the following links:

    * The recently observed massive prespawn die-offs in wild sockeye salmon runs, including those of the Skeena and Fraser watersheds, can also be attributed to HSMI, a probable result of PRV infection. This particular virus has been described (by Norwegian authorities, amongst others) to have the ability to “spread like wildfire”, particularly in close confines. In fact, in an April 29th 2012 televised interview, Provincial veterinarian Dr Gary Marty confirmed that he had found PRV in 75% of BC farmed salmon he had tested; he casually dismissed any significant negative causality, due to the high rate of infection itself, claiming it to be endemic in Atlantic salmon throughout Europe, Chile, eastern Canada, et al. How’s that for pure irony?

  9. I would love to watch this. Does not seem to work however. Could it be that I am located in Sweden? Keep fighting agains salmon farms in Canada. They have severly damaged much of Norways (and other countries) wild salmon stocks already. To introduce this threat in the worlds greatest salmon rivers is incredibly stupid.

  10. What seemed like a good idea over twenty years ago to feed the world and

    protect wild salmon with the introduction of farmed salmon has turned into a

    disaster. It is a particular disaster for our wild salmon here in beautiful

    B.C. The only, only way to protect our wild salmon is to put these fish farms

    in closed containment pens on dry land. Please, no effluent, no diseases,no

    mort getting into our oceans and destroying wild salmon. Mr. Roberts, of the

    fish farming industry gave a correct answer when asked why the fish farming

    industry doesn’t used the closed containment system for the entire life of

    the atlantic salmon. He raised two fingers to make two main points. The

    number one point is viability of the company, profits,money, money, the

    bottom line. In most cases less money going back home to Norway. Stop.

  11. I recently purchased some farmed salmon- it was not clearly labeled as such in the store. The taste was not what I had come to expect from a salmon fillet. It was bland and the color was unnatural. With all the evidence available, I believe raising salmon in the ocean should be banned. It is not worth the risk to the wild stocks except ,of course,to the CEO`s of the farming industry.

  12. I gave my cat some farmed salmon and she wouldn’t eat it, although she has always loved to eat wild salmon. That is a good enough test for me.

    1. an elder mistakenly got an atlantic with her food fish, cooked it, smelled the house out. Put it out for the dogs, never touched it, Put it further out by the river, eagles would not eat it either, wolves went to grab it, dropped it and ran, The bears never went near it and it just laid on beach rotting away, not even flies went near it. So if the scavenger animals will not eat it, how can any human eat that crap.

  13. Many thanks Boys,

    That is a well balanced report giving both sides the opportunity to have their say.

    Now it is up to the consumers to vote with their case, I just hope that they vote to protect the environment and force the aquaculture industry to invest in land based systems.

    Glyn Lewis

  14. As a consumer I will refuse to purchase any farmed salmon while there is the slightest chance that open pen fish farms cause harm to wild salmon stocks and I think there is ample evidence that this danger exists at present. I feel this video was more than fair when the Water Brothers stated that they are not against the the fish farm industry but that the industry does need to reduce the ratio of wild fish in food fed to farmed salmon and move to fully closed pen, land based operations. Then and only then will I consider purchasing any farmed salmon product again.

  15. I want to say – to the farmed salmon corp folks, I don’t care what you say. It is inhumane to cage a fish that is meant to migrate, many hundreds of miles and live out free in the ocean. Farming salmon doesn’t make any sense in any way. It costs more to produce them. As well, you and companies like Mainstream have made every effort to suppress freedom of speech and criticism. you can’t take it that you are doing something wrong – in every way. Tired of the Norwegians telling us what we can’t and can do in our country! Get out.

    1. Hey John, I’m not sure. Are you trying to watch the episode in Canada? Unfortunately, our episode is only available for online streaming from within Canada.

  16. The farming industry may have a point when they explain the program was one sided. It is not balanced journalism.
    That being said there is no rebuttal to excuse the salmon farming industry from allowing their waste to mix into the wild ocean. There is no land based farm that is allowed to do that so why should the ocean be any different? That right there is the crux of the argument to me in lieu of all other issues.
    Get your pens on land and stop polluting our oceans with your wastes and pests. I realize it’s expensive to do but think of the good will it will create for the fish farming industry if you did. It’s an investment in the future where everybody wins. There is a mountain of research studies that suggest that fish farming is inversely proportional to wild fish stocks. This body of evidence is growing every year. As usual it’s about money; please make the investment.
    I will never buy farmed fish from open netted farms as it’s a nightmare for the environment. Putting your pens on land is good for your business otherwise anyone that thinks about it will never buy your product. The message is getting around faster than ever with social media and there will be much pressure from the consumer, the scientific community and eventually government. If the fish farming industry was smart they’d be proactive and move to land based on their own instead of waiting until they’re forced to. It seems so ridiculous that are allowed to pollute that it’ll only be a matter of time.

    1. Hi Aaron, I do have a question for you about fish poop, if this is your main concern. Do you feel that all salmon aquaculture should be done on land, and that no salmon – grown for human consumption – should be raised in the ocean? Before you answer you should know that almost have the wild-caught salmon in the global market is a product of aquaculture (hatcheries or salmon “ranches”), and these salmon do poop in the ocean.

      1. Ian –
        Please refrain from asking questions of the type that do not justify a reply.
        Poop PPMs in the ocean from wild and hatchery raised salmon obviously do not equal PPMs adjacent to salmon net pens. Salmon poop is well down the list of the many risks inherent with high density farming.

        1. Hi Leon Fisher. It’ s important for viewers to understand how fish waste is managed at farms and the regulations in place to ensure it is minimized. I think that providing context of the concerns – how we culture salmon in different ways – does provide people an opportunity to understand more about salmon aquaculture.

          For example, salmon farming is the most efficient use of fish feed (which includes a small % of fish meal) as compared to other ways to culture salmon. This information/context would have been useful for viewers to know, but wasn’t included, unfortunately.

          1. Ian explain the use of the pesticide SLICE and how it is used on sea lice and the effects it has on prawns ,crab and other invertebrates and how the sea lice are becoming immune to it is a very dangerous chemical that does not leave the environment easily and will continue to do damage for years to come . funny how the public never hears about these dangerous games that are being played with our environment!

          2. the poop managed, what a laugh. How? They poop tons and it builds up, lands on our clam beaches, smothers them. The farms are much larger that first introduced, had 20K, but now have 300k to 600 k on site so how do you mange that, pull ups, geez. It will get worse because there are applications for expansions, this will worsen the amount of poop, how do you manage that, omg

      2. “poop”, “have the wild-caught salmon” , (sarcastic and dismissive tone). Someone give Mr. Roberts a job in communications, because he is so very skilled at the medium clearly.

      3. ian- your industry had a chance, our wild fish numbers have since plummeted, disease is the smoking gun, you guys are responsible for bringing in exotic animals and exotic pathogens into our ocean environment. we will all know the truth when the filthy pens come out and the health of the wild fish returns.

        1. Hi Brendan, thanks for sharing your concerns. Here are the facts about them:

          - the commercial catch of wild-caught salmon is the highest today in recorded history (not “plummeting” as you suggest)
          - no exotic disease is present and has been confirmed by US and Canadian scientists
          - sportfishers introduced the Atlantic salmon to the Pacific Northwest about 100 years ago, not salmon farmers


          1. omg enough already- the commercial catch of wild-caught salmon is the highest today in recorded history (not “plummeting” as you suggest), this is not true, just the one year 2010, that is all, when there was less farms having adults in their pens when these fish went out. The bigger problem Ian, is that all the salmon streams are all being affected in and around the farms, Mostly pinks and chums are all at record lows. Like farmers keep saying it goes up and down. Well since 2000, there has been none of that, just going down in all streams, especially here in the broughton.

      4. Ian, It is a matter of concentration. While wild salmon have thousands of square miles of open ocean fish farms are reduced to single digit square miles. The examples of concentrated farming of any animal shows that the damage done is environmentally significant, not to mention the health concerns to humans. Factory farms have shown that the product produced is of a much lesser quality. Is this not something you can acknowledge as a result of your farming practices.

        1. Hi “jehadley”. We can agree that farming fish has a local impact, but this impact is minimized and managed through the strict benthic (ocean bottom) regulations we have in British Columbia. If we don’t pass the regulations, we cannot stock the farm. It would have been helpful to the viewer if our management of this concern was included in the show. We had provided the details to the Water Brothers, but they chose to not include it.

          As for your assertion that a farm-raised salmon is “much less quality” or of “health concerns to humans”, I can 100% disagree with confidence. Farmed or wild, all species of salmon are a rich source of healthy Omega 3 oils, vitamin A, B, D. All salmon are also very low in contaminants because they are a fast growing fish, so not bioaccumulating much of these toxins. We have provided back up to these facts, publicly, many times. If you have current facts that contradict this, please share.

          Cheers, Ian.

  17. Interesting Twyla has again taken the opportunity to self-promote her fictional documentary on this page. We would like to recommend the Water Brothers and others check out Salmon Confidential Exposed at to learn more about the many errors, false claims and incorrect assumptions in this “documentary”.

    1. I would like to recommend Alexandra Morton’s “Reply to Salmon Confidential Exposed”, that patiently attends to each and every complaint and false allegation made in that feeble but feral rebuttal of her science by those ANONOMOUS members of the fishfarming fraternity. They could not even give the names of those they quote as authorities concerning the careless factory farming of fish born to move and be free. Read it. Her science stands true above the rubble of falsehood, while her kindly spirit lets the science speak for itself without condemnation of her persecutors.
      And high fives to the spirited docu by the Water Boys– cheers to you for one more arrow onto the truth about the farming of alien species given open sesame to destroy,

    2. @ Positive Aquaculture Awareness:

      In a nutshell, here is a summary of the contents of your referenced ‘Salmon Confidential Exposed’ website:

      Lies, lies, and more foreign-corporate-financed lies.

      In response to your ANONYMOUS website’s thoroughly erroneous, misleading and fictional claims, the following is a link to a page in Alexandra Morton’s blog site in which she systematically dismantles the vast misinformation posted in ‘Salmon Confidential Exposed’, point by point:

  18. You know you are the right track with a industry that has something to hide when you get all the hired industry PR reps systematically slagging you & throwing red herrings ( like Ian Roberts, James Costello and Grant Warkentin). For more info on this issue check out

    1. Twyla, if you feel that I am a “hired PR and am slagging the Water Brothers”, then perhaps you misunderstood my post. I went to school for aquaculture and have 20 years production experience raising fish – not hired as PR – but I do now speak on behalf of our 500 employees to helo them learn how we raise salmon. We have every right to correct misinformation or fill in the gaps left my people who refuse to tell the whole story.

      When there is misinformation about our business, we will correct it. I feel that the Water Brothers had an opportunity to educate their viewers so they can make wise choices at the seafood counter, but failed to do so by only providing the viewer information that fit their own personal opinions.

      Best that you concentrate on the facts – ad hominem attacks on people don’t add to the conversation at all.


    2. Why are you and Alexandra hiding the lab reports from all the tests you claim to have run, Twyla?
      All you seem to do is promote your film and ask for money – that is not a “Red Herring”, it is a direct call for evidence to back up your claims.
      Salmon farmers know how much it costs to run tests for virus’ – we do it all the time.
      Your position of righteousness would seem a little more deserved if you were even remotely accountable for the results of your considerable fundraising efforts.

      1. James why don’t you release the health records of your farms for public scrutiny and then maybe if the showed no health risks (which they won’t) we might start to belive you.When fish farms came in you said all atlantics were sterile LIE! they escaped and now are respawning in at least 7 Vancouver island streams FACT! it is a sad fact that the federal dept of fisheries are hiding FACTS! to protect your fish farms! let us look at your health records sir they will tell the truth.

  19. I feel that farming is not a good thing for BC. I’m discouraged that BC doesn’t return to the idea of enhancing streams instead: as was popular in the past. I guess that “fad ” has passed. I hope theirs farming idea fades out before there are no natural healthy fish to replenish -with.

  20. Can I join the millions of people in the Province of BC: first nations, ocean scientists, salmonoid enhancement societies, fishermen, naturalists, community activists; that are loudly requesting open-pen salmon farming to be BANNED in our waters….thanks for putting your bit in ‘Water Boys’!

  21. Hi guys, I was one of the interviews on your show. While I appreciate that everyone has a different point of view, isn’t it the responsibility of your show (and TVO) to provide facts and balanced opinions to your viewers, so they can make the best decision based on the knowledge made available to them?

    Because you chose to omit so many important facts and responses to criticisms (and granting critics of my business over 75% of the airtime), you are simply impressing your personal opinion on your viewer. How would they know any different if they believe that you will provide them all the facts?

    For example, you interviewed me while standing in front of a land-based aquaculture system, of which I am college trained and have 20 years experience, yet you only include the opinion of a critic (with no aquaculture experience) when you ask why these systems aren”t currently used to grow salmon to market size.

    Another example: Critic John Volpe says, in his opinion, that no science based decisions had been made when allowing Atlantic salmon to be cultured in BC. That is pure nonsense, because BC and Washington state had over 100 years of experience attempting to colonize Atlantics in the Pacific Northwest. All attempts failed, so given this history, and given the fact that Atlantics will not crossbreed with any Pacific salmon species, and given the fact that the Atlantic salmon is the most efficient fish to raise (from an ecosystem perspective), the science based decision was made to allow culture of Atlantic salmon in BC and Washington state. You knew this information, but chose to allow John Volpe to express his personal and factless opinion…unchallenged.

    I’m very disappointed in your final product, given the time we had spent with you, and knowing the facts you had learned about our business of raising salmon in British Columbia.

    Ian Roberts
    Salmon farmer

    1. No, Ian… they DID ask you why the farmed salmon are not harvest entirely on land (maybe you need to watch the video again). You had a 2 fold answer:

      1. It needs to make sense for the business (profits), and
      2. It has to be a system that supports the production of adult salmon

      Later, the video goes on to ask other scientists (they may not be aquaculturists but have extensive credentials in marine biology… where your pens are located!), whether the salmon could be farmed in closed contained pens… the answer was: yes, but it will cost the businesses more. Seems correct does it not and fits well with your answer? Looks like the Water brothers gave equal opportunity to answer the same question.

      Perhaps what we should be asking is: what are the farm salmon industry in BC doing differently to ENSURE we do not have the same deadly virus outbreaks that have occurred in Norway & Chile? And secondly, what are all the wild salmon dying of in our streams before they spawn?

      1. @ Jen:
        Just an addendum to your statement as to the “same deadly virus outbreaks that have occurred in Norway & Chile”: you had neglected to include those of the ongoing and established rampant ISA outbreaks of eastern Canada, in New Brunswick and Nova Scotia; those losses, of course, have since been funded — alleviated in full — on part of the respective ISA-affected salmon farming operations, as per legislation, through the pockets of Canadian taxpayers. This aquaculture industry is laughing all the way to the bank.

      2. P.S. The government has, in fact, paid out an estimated $100 million in compensation for ordered diseased culls, as required by legislation, since the ISA virus first surfaced in the Maritimes in 1996.

        Current ISA outbreaks throughout salmon aquaculture stocks in New Brunswick and Nova Scotia are now so unmanageable that the CFIA has revised its restrictions — in contrast to regulatory agencies in the US and China, which ban the importation of ISAv-infected fish stocks — for Canadian human consumption of the same (WITHOUT prior consumer notification). This was implemented, by the way, to offset recent federal budget restraints, which limit the ability of the government to pay for the costs of ordered culls.

        You may see the following article for a thorough outline of this situation:

  22. Why was it that the Water Brothers seemed more interested in speculating about profits and multinational corporations than actually investgating whether the disease claims were true?
    They talked to a farmer about how the closed-containment systems worked, and then had a guy from SFU answer the question of why they were not used for the full cycle – why was that?
    This episode did nothing more than push forward the position of salmon farming opponents with speculative comments and claims, while omitting the answers provided by those in the industry which would have either laid those concerns to rest, or shown that the claims were unfounded.
    I am disappointed to see TVO supporting this work as educational material.
    By telling only part of the story from farmers, while allowing opponents of BC’s salmon farming industry free reign to express their opinions they have done a disservice to not only the thousands of aquaculture workers in BC, but to anyone watching this show.
    Again, I am extremely disappointed that this piece aired as shown.

    1. They are water activists, they were/are concerned about potential water issues; especially ones on their home soil. You didn’t see Indians get up in arms in them calling their holy river “poison”. I wonder why??? Oh that’s right, because they didn’t have a financial stake in the outcome. Jame’s consistent ranting only serves to prove his and his industries general concern with any negative information reaching the public. Funny how he thinks that we can’t read subtext.

    2. james- no need to argue, we’ve made up our minds and dont believe your industry, dont trust your industry and dont want your products. ive got 2 words: cohen commission

    3. We the people don’t have the billions of dollars to spend on TV adds promoting ourselfes like the fish farm industry. The big thing is you can not trust any industry regulating it’s self. They will tell you anything to make you feel good about their product. There is no independent testing of farmed salmon and certenly no public disclosure. The rule is if you don’t want to know don’t look. James you are just repeating fish farm misinformation like a good fish farm enployee.

  23. I say 3 cheers to the Water Brothers for an excellent look at the issue of Open Net Salmon Farms impacting Wild Salmon. Of course Marine Harvest is going to respond in defense of their industry and practices but these realities they cannot argue- testing for viruses in Wild stocks of Pacific Salmon is revealing European Strain Virus’s coming from Norwegian Atlantic Salmon eggs and the open net farms. This year, the industry has Intentionally Knowingly, put hundreds of thousands of smolts infected with the Piscine Reovirus into a Marine Harvest pen in our BC waters; ignoring the conditions of their license and research showing the debilitating effect of this disease on Wild fish. Piscine Reo virus is being found in almost every farmed salmon sample that has taken from farmed Atlantic Salmon purchased from our BC grocery stores. The transfer of disease from the pens to the ocean environment cannot continue to be ignored. This was Stated by Justice Cohen as a conclusion of the Federal Cohen Commission. Sea lice from fish farms is a very big problem for many species of fish including herring. For so many reasons we cannot take chances as we are doing presently without the huge likelihood of disastrous effects…like crashes in salmon returns as we are now seeing in the Skeena River this year. Marine Harvest mentioned that the Pink Salmon runs have been successful in recent years but in 2002 the Pink runs in 6 major spawning rivers in the Broughton Archipelago completely crashed and sea lice were highly suspect. Thousands of Pink smolts observed that fall swimming near the vicinity of the farms were covered in sea lice. Everywhere in the world where there are salmon farms sharing habitat with Wild Salmon species the Wild Salmon stocks have dwindled away.
    We must feel some IMMENSE sense of responsibility to care for our native species- all the animals in BC that rely on Salmon…who is going to feed them…and the forests of trees around all these rivers and streams throughout our province-30% of their nutrients are derived from decaying fish…
    Come on People of BC…think about our Wild Salmon…Talk about our Wild Salmon…appreciated our Wild Salmon…Stand UP for Wild Salmon!!!! Boycott Diseased, Medicated, Farmed Fish!

  24. Despite being given extensive access to BC aquaculture facilities, feed production and fish health experts, Alex and Tyler chose to ignore anything they heard from farmers that disagreed with the opinion they had obviously pre-formed long before coming to BC.

    This is disappointing, and concerning, for a publicly-funded supposedly educational program.

    My company, Mainstream Canada, has extensive concerns with the inaccuracies and misinformation in this film and has posted a rebuttal and the information the Mifflins chose to ignore here.

  25. Hi there – has this episode aired yet? I would like to have my grade 9 students watch it in my class if possible.


    1. Hi Samira,

      The Farmed & Dangerous? episode has not premiered yet, and that is why it is not available to view on our website at the moment. It will be premiering on TVO, Tuesday, Oct. 15th at 7:30pm. It will be available to view online directly after it airs on TV. Thanks for watching, and we hope you enjoy the new episodes.

    2. As a parent I am greatly concernd that you would introduce a deliberately one-sided and factually incorrect piece of fiction to ANY grade level student.
      Unles your intent is to educate the students in confirmation bias, suppressed evidence and a whole host of other rhetological fallacies – you would be doing a disservice to them and failing as an educator.
      Students need to learn HOW to think, not WHAT to think.

      1. We completely agree James. Students need to learn HOW to think for themselves and not be taught WHAT to think. We feel our episode is a fair look at the issue. We respect your opinions, but can’t help but feel you might be a little biased in your views as you work for a salmon farming company.

        1. Who knows better how salmon farms work than the farmers? It’s a fallacy to dismiss information just because it comes from a source you don’t like.

          Why would you believe anti-salmon farming critics when you know they are obviously biased against salmon farming?

          Take both viewpoints and weigh them, but most importantly scrutinize the facts provided by all viewpoints. This is where the Water Brothers failed, ignoring facts that didn’t fit with their opinion, and their balance in terms of film time alone was clearly skewed in favour of people who oppose salmon farming.

        2. James is just very scared as his industry and job as the Sustainability Officer are threatened by the truth.

          Great Episode!

          1. Fear is a tool used by those who do not have the truth on their side.
            Having the Water Brothers create a pseudo-educational program which parrots all of Ms. Morton’s pet conspiracies and leaves scary sounding, but scientifcally answerable questions open to speculation is not something that those in the aquaculture industry need to fear.
            What those working in salmon aquaculture need to fear is that these claims and speculations will not be addressed, with evidence readily available,by peers with the ability to do so .
            For instance,
            The stocking of Atlantic salmon in Pacific waters started over 100 years ago and has not shown itself to be a risk to wild Pacific salmon, despite moving from deliberate introductions to caged culture.
            Egg imports to BC have been scrutinized and screened to prevent the introduction of any virus’ which would be lethal to the fish farmers would rely on for their business.
            These, plus the facts that Pacific salmon have been shown to have immunity to the ISA virus and extensive testing has shown no presence of it; allow regulators, farmers, and by extension the people of BC to confidently pursue the activity of salmon farming in local waters.
            Through effective regulation and management the probability of harm is extremely low, yet through campaigns of fear, speculation and exaggeration (for some) the perception of risk is extremely high.
            Unfortunately, emotion trumps logic, and this is capitolised upon by campaigners.
            The aquaculture detractors highlighted in this film are in the minority when it comes to the extent of scientific focus on salmon aquaculture in BC.
            If Ms. Morton and her cohorts were able to provide evidence beyond rhetoric, such as lab reports from the hundreds of samples they claim to have tested – they might be given more scientific credibility and would not have to resort to using the Water Brothers to push their agenda.

        1. James, I am afraid your War-bag is full of holes to see through, and your Arrows are made of cooked spagetti. One by one now:– “Atlantic salmon were introduced more than a 100 years ago and have not shown to be a risk to wild salmon” . Yes, thousands were released more than 60 years ago into our Pacific waters, but did not survive in numbers until the Norwegian industry came here and let them go intentionally or not by the millions ever since.

          Today Atlantics are spawning successfully in our rivers with full potential to introduce viral diseases and out-compete with wild salmon for spawning gravel. And their offspring, being bigger than most Pacific fry, could be preying on our wild fry during the extended time that Atlantic fry remain in our lakes and rivers before heading out to sea. Moreover, Atlantics can survive like Steelhead to spawn again, doubling the danger they represen to our wild runs..

          ‘Imported eggs have been screened to prevent the introduction of any virus that would be lethal to the fish the industry depends on for their success”. Pathetic fallacy. The screening of Norwegian and Icelandic eggs has been a corrupted process by all the evidence that has emerged under oath at the Cohen Inquiry, and this started the spread of the ISA virus in the farms here in BC more than 2O years ago, and importation only stopped in recent years from self-inflicition of the virus in the BC farms.

          It is fair to trace that it is from this unworthy practice that ISA Is now indemic in the farms on the East coast and is now being found in marketed Atlantic and wild caught Pacific salmon here in BC as well. That the CFIA has approved ISA infected farmed salmon for human consumption while denying point blank ISAv even exists in our waters, tells us where it also is coming from. Today not only ISA threatens our wild fisheries; at least two other dangerous viral diseases of Norwegian origin are wreaking havoc on our wild runs with impunity.

          That these viruses exist in our wild salmon has been verified by the most highly accredited labs in the world–the OIE lab in Norway and its twin in New Brunswick. Seven other independant labs have confirmed these viruses in the farmed fish and now the wild as well.
          The only labs not finding viral infections in our wild salmon are those working for Government labs–such as DFO and CFIA—that like magic, turn ISA postivies into postiively negative results every time! (Justice Bruce Cohen sternly recommended that DFO be stripped of its responsibilty for the fish farmiing industry, and further advised that the industry must welcome independant research and must show absolute transparency in its health records. None of this has come to pass, with DFO struck dumb and blind, and the industry in full-fledged flaming-parrot denial of harm– even as it refuses to allow independant testing on their farms!

          The science and research by Alexandra Morton is above reproach, and seeks only to find the fountain of the viral outbreaks and cause them to cease. The sorrow is that DFO/the industry/CFIA and Ottawa have all shut their eyes, plugged their ears and sealed their lips on the crisis– because a national- even international– agenda has been cemented in place wiithout consultation with the Canadian / North American public. The damage beginning to surface is extreme, and the remedy is staring us in the face–that only removal of the farms from our waters can possibly stem the viral infections the farms are mulitplying coast-wide, and possibly fatally inroducing into our major fish bearing rivers as well.

          Truly, as Alexandra implores us to remedy, the whole sorry mess is a tragedy that only we the public can bring to heel by uniting in boycotting Atlantic salmon in the marketplace around the world, and by calling on supermarkets to remove them from their shelves. Our magnificent five races of wild salmon must not be sacrificed for disease-ridden, medicated, chemical and pesticide-riddled foreign invasive Atlantic salmon that Norwegian scientists just recently declared are becoming unfit to eat.

          The answer, if salmom must be farmed. is closed containment where sea lice (and dangerous pesticides) are removed, and where no pollution and viral diseases can infect ourr wild runs. With motives true to the spirit of sustainability, we can protect and nurture wild salmon and allow a non-aggressive fishfarming on-land enterprise as well. In Israel and Virginia, they are farming salmon with new technology requiring very little fresh water, with the water filtered and recycled to be free of pollution. The only reason the industry is not taking this path is their protit margin from not having to deal with their own mess—it just lets its manure and dangerous chemicals go out on the tides to do what they will. That is no way to run a business and then flaunt its innocence!

      2. james- what about piscene reo virus? the fish farms dont even test for this, evidenced by their own addmission on their websites because ” it isnt linked to disease”. that is a total lie. piscene reo virus is linked to hsmi, heart and sceletal muscle inflamation, a disease that could explain the pre spawn wild mortality now eppidemic on our coast.