A Morton and R Routledge (2016) Risk and Precaution: Salmon Farming
The salmon farming industry uses coastal, temperate marine waters to culture salmon in flow-through net pens.
As marine currents pass through salmon farms, pathogens are carried in both directions between two highly contrasting environments. When
wild fish are infected with pathogens spilling from the farm environment, the natural mechanisms that work to prevent
inoperative. The 18-year decline of Canada's largest salmon fishery, on Fraser River Sockeye Salmon, triggered a comprehensive federal
commission to determine the cause. Two of the recommendations from this commission call for removal of the salmon farms from the Discovery
Islands of British Columbia (BC), a bottleneck in the Sockeye Salmon migration route, if the evidence indicates that the industry generates
greater than minimal risk of serious harm to the Fraser River Sockeye Salmon. Risk is interpreted as a probability and ‘minimal risk’, in
the context of the Precautionary Principle, as a cut-off level on the strength of the scientific evidence needed to justify precautionary
measures. Here the available evidence of the risk caused by
sea lice and viruses from salmon farms on wild salmon is considered. From this
perspective, the evidence is unambiguous. Salmon farms in the region of the Discovery Islands generate greater than minimal risk of serious
harm to Fraser River Sockeye Salmon. Furthermore, there is no evidence that the risk factors identified are specific to Fraser River Sockeye
Salmon, as many of them apply to other areas and salmon species in the north eastern Pacific and globally.