A massive 70 percent of British Columbia fish slaughterhouses fail to comply with environmental regulations, according to a recent audit, leading to environmental pollution and potentially infecting wild salmon with an infectious disease called Piscine Reovirus [PRV].
Prompted by a video (see below) showing a pipe pumping bloody water into the Salish Sea taken by Tavish Campbell Coastal Photography, the audit also discovered that some of the facilities operate under decades-old rule, way below contemporary guidelines.
The audit concludes that the fish-processing industry must adhere to more stringent measures to protect wild salmon and the wider marine environment. In light of its release, B.C Minister of Environment and Climate Change Strategy, George Heyman, released a statement following saying ' more work needs to be done to ensure our coastal waterways are safe for all wild fish stocks'.
He added: "The industry has been largely operating under an outdated permitting regime, going back several decades. We are taking immediate steps to ensure permits are updated and strengthened at fish processing facilities throughout B.C."
Tavish Campbell - the photographer who captured the footage, and also the spokesperson for Wild First, an organization which works to ' help ensure the survival and restoration of wild salmon, said: "The Ministry of Environment just released their audit report on fish processing facilities. Thank you George Heyman for taking this seriously and following through with an investigation.
"I was surprised to see the press release include an outdated report by the BC Centre for Aquatic Health Sciences [CAHS] on Piscine Reovirus [PRV]. New findings by scientists from DFO and Pacific Salmon Foundation in May 2018 have shown that PRV of Norwegian origin causes jaundice and anemia in Chinook salmon.
"The CAHS claims the PRV situation in BC 'requires further investigation'. If we wait until there is 100 percent scientific certainty that PRV causes harm to wild salmon, it will be too late for wild salmon.We need to act now and put Wild First."
Tavish Campbell's shocking video
Others agree that urgent action is needed immediately - in the form of boycotting fish. The results of the audit - and the shocking video footage - has prompted activists to question the heavy planetary toll of consuming fish. According to animal rights charity PETA: "You can’t be an environmentalist and eat fish flesh - period. Just like commercial fishing, aquafarming desecrates natural waters.
"Coastal fish farms release massive amounts of feces, antibiotics, parasites, and nonnative fish into sensitive marine ecosystems. Research reveals that aquaculture can emit more methane and create more greenhouse gases than other industries that kill animals for their flesh do."
Following the scandal the B.C. Salmon Farmers Association admitted that new regulations were necessary. Spokesperson Shawn Hall said: "The current wastewater permitting system is outdated. We are happy the government is on a path to address that, bringing permits into best practices. Updating is going to enable us to evolve, and operate in an environmentally responsible manner."
But PETA believes abstinence from eating fish will have a significant enough impact, saying: "Unless humans stop eating fish, pollution and the threat of disease for wild fish will continue to explode exponentially.
"It's estimated that 10 to 100 billion farmed fish are killed yearly. Fish farms are growing so rapidly that half the fish killed for food now spend most of their lives crowded into filthy tanks or pens where infection and parasites run rampant."