On April 23, the Get Out Migration started. Concerned citizens, families, artists, fishermen, First Nations, business owners and others are joining the scientist Alexandra Morton to walk the length of Vancouver Island.
They are taking a stand against ocean-based net pen salmon aquaculture. This type of fish farming pollutes our waters, hosts infestations of sea lice and various pathogens, and adds to the serious threats confronting our wild salmon.
This massive “migration” is a metaphor for the migration of salmon: these astounding fish navigate up to thousands of kilometers of rivers and oceans to grow and return to the very stretch of river where they hatched. If you haven’t seen the adults leaping up rapids to spawn, add this to your “bucket list”: it’s a magical sight.
Wild salmon are indicators of land, freshwater and marine ecosystem health because of their life cycles. The startling decline of sockeye salmon suggest that big changes are required for both humans and wild salmon to thrive together.
Aquaculture is just one of many stressors to wild salmon, but it’s worth addressing because it’s so solvable. We simply need collaboration between industry, governments, and non-government organizations, with an eye on ongoing innovation.
Together, we have the power to transform salmon farming to closed-containment land-based aquaculture that will provide jobs and not harm wild stocks.
Kai Chan is an assistant professor and Canada Research Chair at the Institute for Resources, Environment, and Sustainability (IRES) at UBC. Sarah Klain is in an MSc program at IRES?where her research focuses on fishing communities and marine conservation in coastal B.C.