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Update on Bloodwater - hard to believe!

Your assistance is required - this blog is a reference for all who want to help stop infected farm salmon blood from pouring over the young wild salmon that begin migrating to sea in a few weeks. Ministers George Heyman and Lana Popham need encouragement and support from you. These Ministers appear to be making an effort to deal with the situation, but incredibly previous governments have put no tools in place to turn off the blood. You will see below, that there is a sterilization option, but the plants may not be allowed to use it. In addition, we learned that the effluent is loaded with a human pathogen and that the industry is actually experimenting with feeding it to farm salmon. I don't know if this is why such high levels are in the bloodwater pouring into our coast, but someone needs to figure this out! People are eating this fish raw! No one would dare make this stuff up - every time I look into something new about this industry I am incredulous at the risks they are taking. We need to help the the government in charge, otherwise we are allowing this continue. Please write them often, consider showing up at their offices, visit your own MLA and tell them they have to find a way to turn off the blood pipes, - do everything you know how to do to get someone to hear you. I have a list of suggested questions below.

George Heyman 3 healthy frysm

Lana Popham

Saanich South
Elected 2009, 2013, 2017


When the province of BC tested the blood water effluent from two farm salmon processing plants, Browns Bay in Campbell River and Creative Salmon in Tofino, they confirmed what the lab at the Atlantic Veterinary College reported in the samples that I sent to them – the bloodwater pouring from these plants is heavily infected with the salmon blood virus, piscine reovirus.The lab I am working with confirmed the virus is "alive".

I applaud the provincial Ministry of Environment for conducting the confirmation testing, see report here but now that we all know about this threat to wild salmon, we are going to do something about it, right? Piscine reovirus is a highly contagious blood virus that is known to travel long distances in the ocean. Research on its impact on wild salmon is still emerging, but the evidence we have so far suggests wild salmon near farms are becoming infected, that it loads up fish's red blood cells threatening their ability to carry oxygen, makes is more difficult for salmon to swim upriver to spawn and causes a disease that turns Chinook salmon yellow.

Following up with the Provincial Minister of Environment, George Heyman, Tavish Campbell learned that the plant does indeed have a chlorination option to kill viruses in the effluent, but 1.) it is only used when the fish farmers tell the plant their fish are diseased,and 2.) the effluent from the chlorine process exceeds legal levels to pour into the ocean. This means they don't use the system and there is no mechanism in place to stop contaminated effluent from pouring over the young salmon out-migrating in a few weeks from the Fraser, Campbell, Quinsam and other rivers. If they use the chlorine, this may also threaten young wild salmon salmon.

The manager of the Browns Bay plant told CTV news that they adhere to the Global Aquaculture Alliance, which has a Best Aquaculture Practices standard ... and those standards are sort of the highest levels and we meet or exceed those.” But we now know these standards apparently must allow infected blood to pour from farm salmon processing plants directly into Discovery Passage where 1/3 of all BC's wild salmon migrate.

100,000's of people were horrified by Tavish Campbell's video footage, but the BC government has no plan in place to stop this, indeed they have no mechanism legally or physically to stop this infected blood water from bathing wild salmon, like running sheep through sheep dip, even though last year was the lowest Fraser River sockeye run in history and many Fraser river populations have been recommended for listing under the Species at Risk Act.

Something needs to be done, perhaps mandating the plant to pump its waste into septic trucks, while they figure something else out.

One faction of scientists within DFO are co-publishing with Marine Harvest, and they suggest the virus is harmless, but other scientists in Canada and Norway, who are not publishing with Marine Harvest disagree.

BC government also detected extremely high levels of the human pathogen enterococcus.

Browns bay outfall pipeOK, now the story really dives into foul water.

Both water samples taken by the BC provincial government, from the Creative Salmon and Browns Bay processing plants, reported 60,000 enterococci/100ml, noting there were more bacteria than they had the ability to count. These samples were not taken in the ocean, so we don’t know what these very high levels in the plants may dilute down to in the marine waters where people will be exposed, however both processing plants are in areas frequented by people. See picture at left of the Browns Bay plant discharge pipe into a small marina with a long sandy beach.

The enterococcus level considered safe by the US Environmental Protection Agency in marine waters is 104 – 501 cfu/100mL while in Canada ≤70 enterococci/100 ml is the marine recreational water quality guideline recommending further action if this guideline value is exceeded. Minimum action on this finding should consist of immediate testing of the beaches near these and other fish farm outfall pipes. A swimming advisory may be required.

Because the fish being gutted in these plants come from farms throughout Clayoquot Sound, Gold River and the waters east of Vancouver Island, testing now has to be done around these farms as there are commercial, sport, food and ceremonial fisheries in these regions. Species like shrimp and prawns are bottom feeders and thus are coming into contact, possibly feeding on farm waste.

There also needs to be testing of BC farm salmon being served raw as sashimi as farm salmon is not subject to the freezing regulations that apply to most fish products. Raw farm salmon appears to be moving directly from these contaminated processing plants to your plate!


On Farmed Fish: Health Canada determined that the parasite hazard for aquaculture finfish was "not likely to occur" due to the practice of feeding farmed finfish pelletized foods. Pelletized foods are heat treated and therefore are not considered to be a source of parasite contamination. As a result of this determination measures to control parasites, such as freezing, are not required for aquaculture finfish. However, as far as the possibility of aquaculture finfish being fed processing waste or by catch fish, this is not a usual practice among the Aquaculture Industry. If it was found that aquaculture finfish were being fed in this manner, measures aimed at controlling the parasite hazard would be required". LINK

Farmed sushi

There needs to be an investigation into how such high levels of this bacteria are in farm salmon processing effluent because surprisingly, research is underway on feeding enterococcus to farm fish to achieve a probiotic effect. When Enterococcus was introduced to rainbow trout feed, fish growth accelerated. The FDA has not approved enterococcal farm fish feed additives, but what about Canada? A DFO webpage entitled “Thinking Out of the Box: Exploring Strategies to Reduce Sea Lice Infestations in Salmon Farms” dated 2017-01-19 reports that DFO is exploring the use of beneficial bacteria to feed to increase resistance to sea lice.

Questions for BC regulators:

  1. What steps are you taking to ensure wild salmon out-migrating in 2018 are not exposed to the bloodwater from fish farm processing plants?
  2. Given the very high levels of enterococcus bacteria pouring from farm salmon processors into the marine environment what testing has been done around the plants and the source farms to ensure the water is safe for recreational activities and fishing?
  3. What species of Enterococcus was detected?
  4. What is the antibiotic resistance profile of the bacteria?
  5. Are BC farm salmon being fed enterococcus bacteria in an effort to reduce the BC salmon farming industry’s large consumption of antibiotics, or to reduce sea lice populations which have been escalating again in Musgamagw territory since 2015?
  6. How did enterococcus levels get so high in both the Browns Bay and Creative Salmon processing plants.

Background on Enterococcus

Enterococci are not always considered harmful to humans, but their presence in the environment may indicate that other disease-causing agents such as viruses, bacteria, and protozoa may also be present. Significant amounts of enterococci in a water body can negatively affect the recreational and economic value of the aquatic resource.

Overabundance of fecal bacteria in the water can cause beach closures, swimming and boating bansand closures of fishing and shell fishing areas.

While enterococci are used simply as an indicator species to alert regulators to fecal contamination of marine waters, i.e. to provide warning that other pathogens are likely present, the bacteria itself can also cause serious and often life-threatening disease. Enterococci are the second leading cause of bacterial blood infections.

Many studies correlate increasing concentrations of environmental enterococci with gastrointestinal and dermatological illnesses. As a result, the Environmental Protection Agency suggests it is urgent to more thoroughly define ecological reservoirs for this bacteria, understand host and bacterial traits that promote colonization, and clarify mechanisms for transmission that enhance the spread of multi-drug resistant enterococci. The Province of BC testing raises the question – are the salmon farms throughout BC enterococcus “ecological reservoirs.”

Treatment of enterococcal infections can be difficult because Enterococcus species are intrinsically resistant to many antimicrobial agents and have the capacity to acquire resistance genes and mutations. Use of antibiotics in the BC salmon farming industry is second only to Chile with BC using an average of 1.75 antibiotic treatments per grow out cycle in 2014. Sixteen percent of enterococcus isolates from farmed salmon were found to be resistant to the antibiotic tetracycline. Release of antibiotic resistant strains of enterococcus would pose an additional threat to human health.