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The executive director of the Atlantic Fish Farmer’s Association has suggested that the drop in New Brunswick farmed salmon production has been voluntary and due to the creation of a three-year bay management system (Telegraph-Journal, July 15. In my opinion, the 40 per cent drop in the industry’s production has been anything but voluntary, and bay management was a desperate measure to prevent fish and financial loses.

Prior to the implementation of bay management in 2000, New Brunswick’s salmon farming industry was being ravaged by disease outbreaks. Fish mortality due to disease had increased from less than five per cent in the 1980s to an average of 20 per cent. Epidemics of sea lice infested many farms in the mid-1990s, and the typical salmon farm diseases such as hitra and frunculosis were chronically present. The staggering 20 per cent mortality did not account for the outbreak of infectious salmon anemia (ISA), which was just beginning.

Bay management and the practice of fallowing could not stop the ISA epidemic that swept through the industry from 2000 to 2006 and resulted in a culling of more than 9.6 million salmon and tens of millions of dollars paid in compensation to fish farmers. Nor could it prevent future outbreaks of sea lice, the most recent outbreak being in 2010.

Clearly, bay management and fallowing has not been successful in keeping fish or the environment healthy. The best option now for salmon farmers is to move their operations on land, where they can better control all the input and outputs of their operation.


Science Advisor

Conservation Council of New Brunswick