Commissioner Troubled by the Expansion of Canadian Salmon Farms Near Alaska's Border

Sept 8, 2004

(Juneau) – Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADF&G) Commissioner Kevin C. Duffy today expressed concern over the expansion of Canadian salmon farms in Northern British Columbia.

The Commissioner’s remarks are in response to news that Panfish Canada and the Kitkatla First Nation received final approval to begin farming salmon at Anchor Anchorage, British Columbia. At approximately 42 miles south of the Alaska-Canada boundary line, this farm will be British Columbia’s northernmost fish farm. Although Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) approved the final permit on July 21, Panfish Canada acknowledged for the first time Friday that it has the necessary approval to move forward.

“I am concerned about the potential danger that farmed Atlantic salmon present to Alaska’s wild salmon stocks,” said Commissioner Duffy. “Alaska’s economy relies heavily upon wild salmon and we need to make sure that our neighbor’s activities do not have an adverse impact on Alaska’s fisheries.”

The Commissioner encouraged British Columbia to delay permitting any salmon farms along the border with Alaska until (1) the Canadian fish farming industry develops and employs the technology necessary to prevent escapes from fish pens; and (2) DFO conducts adequate baseline surveys to determine the industry’s potential impacts on marine environments and fishery resources.

“This fish farm is so close to Alaska that an escaped farmed Atlantic salmon could invade Alaskan waters in a matter of hours,” said ADF&G Director of Commercial Fisheries Doug Mecum. “Atlantic salmon, when released into Alaska’s fresh and salt waters, are an invasive species. They can compete with our abundant salmon stocks and threaten them with disease. Atlantic salmon do not belong in Alaska’s waters.”

ADF&G intends to pursue the issue of fish farming along the Alaska-Canada boundary line at the federal level to ensure the protection of Alaska’s wild salmon stocks.

Since 1994, 577 Atlantic salmon have been found in Alaska’s waters, including freshwater systems such as the Copper and Situk rivers. State officials are concerned that more Atlantic salmon have gone undetected.

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