Morton, A.B. and J. Volpe. 2002. A Description of Escaped Farmed Atlantic Salmon Salmo salar Captures and Their Characteristics in One Pacific Salmon Fishery Area in British Columbia, Canada, in 2000. Alaska Fisheries Research Bulletin Vol. 9(2):102-110.
Since 1995, the Canadian salmon farming industry as a whole has reported losing an average of 46,255 Atlantic salmon Salmo salar annually into the coastal waters of British Columbia. While the number of fish lost is arguably much higher, it is unarguable that the fate of these fish is largely unknown. This study was conducted on the fishing grounds of British Columbia by contacting commercial fishers frequently via VHF radio and boat visits. Atlantic salmon were collected directly from fishers, packers, and a processing plant. The goal of this project was to enumerate the number of Atlantic salmon caught by commercial fishers in Pacific Management Area 12, a region of intense salmon farm activity. Further, we wished to examine the condition of these escaped farm salmon to aid managers in determining their ability to survive in the wild. A total of 10,826 Atlantic salmon were caught in the 17 days of open fishing periods during this study, August 2, 2000 through September 22, 2000, by troll, seine, and gillnet gear. The mean fork length and weight of the sampled Atlantic salmon were 75.0 cm (±5.1 cm) and 4.8 kg (±1.3 kg), respectively. Autopsies on 775 whole or partial Atlantic salmon found identifiable stomach contents in 3.9% of the sample overall, and up to 24.4% at some sampling locations. Eighteen fish (2.3%) showed signs of sexual maturity. One group of escaped Atlantic salmon was sampled weekly over a fourteen-day interval, days 1, 8, 14, and an increase in foraging success was recorded. Gillnets were the most successful gear type in recovering escaped farm salmon. The present passive reporting system of Fisheries and Oceans Canada underestimates Atlantic salmon escapes. This study recorded 40.8% more Atlantic salmon caught in the 8 week study period in Pacific Management Area 12 by commercial fishers than the federal Fisheries and Oceans Canada's passive monitoring program.