Cermaq Canada statement on Pacific Herring incidental catch numbers in 2022

Incidental Pacific herring catch in 2023 has seen a 94.6% reduction over 2022.

Sea Site Aerial

CAMPBELL RIVER, BC – While incidental catch of wild fish associated with Cermaq salmon farms has typically been very low, our company did report an unfortunate rise in Pacific herring catch in 2022. This coincided with an unprecedented increase of wild herring biomass near our farms on the west coast of Vancouver Island. This was identified as an area that required immediate and effective action from our company, led by the oversight and objectives of our Indigenous partners.

Cermaq Canada has worked collaboratively with the Ahousaht First Nation, through objectives set out in our protocol agreement, to address this incident to great effect. As a result, incidental Pacific herring catch in 2023 has seen a 94.6% reduction over 2022 (see Fig. 1).

It has been disappointing to see this incident brought into an unbalanced media spotlight – which omitted the positive results of 2023 – almost two years after it was reported to the DFO, as is a requirement under our Conditions of License, as well as immediately reported to the Ahousaht First Nation in whose territory we operate.

Cermaq Canada is committed to area-based management, innovation, and technology adoption across our operations, both as a part of our business model but more importantly, as a part of our protocol agreement with Ahousaht First Nation. This agreement includes strict environmental standards and compliance reporting requirements to the leadership and the Maaqutusiis Hahoulthee Stewardship Society (MHSS), whose Guardians and biologists have direct oversight of our operations in Clayoquot Sound.

This collaborative working relationship, based on strategic objectives, consistent communication, and continual improvement is an example of how the salmon farming industry in BC is already working through transformative innovation in our operations. Innovative technologies and mitigation strategies take time to develop and implement, and even more time to collect data and analyze efficacy.

This incident serves as a model of how our sector continues to work hard and invest in innovation, technology, and relationships, as we look to grow sustainably into the future.

About Salmon Farming in BC

Our sector offers rural coastal communities year-round, good-paying jobs in a time when affordability is a major concern for many Canadians. Salmon farming has the lowest carbon footprint of all protein farming, and consistently ranks high when it comes to global sustainability. Federal science out of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans has shown for years that our operations pose minimal risk to the surrounding ecosystem. Salmon producers in British Columbia have worked hard to modernize and transform our operations to reduce that risk even further.

Cermaq Canada Pacific Herring Incidental Catch 2011 2023
Fig. 1: In 2022, incidental herring catch at salmon farms along Vancouver Island’s west coast was 0.086% of the estimated Pacific herring spawning biomass in the area – a five-fold increase over a 10-year average of 0.015%.

Share on: Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn