Discovery Islands
2011-2019/2020 compliance and performance, marine finfish

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Introduction

This report provides an overview of the environmental and fish health performance of marine finfish facilities in the geographical region of the Discovery Islands, based on industry-submitted Conditions of Licence reports. The data are summarized by year and compare the performance of facilities in the Discovery Islands to all other marine finfish facilities operating in British Columbia waters.

In 2010, the Commission of Inquiry into the Decline of Sockeye Salmon in the Fraser River (Cohen Commission) made several recommendations pertaining to the management of aquaculture in the Discovery Islands, Fish Health Zone (FHZ) 3-2. It should be noted that these recommendations do not apply to facilities located in FHZ 3-3, three of which were included in DFO’s risk assessments and are included in this summary.

For the purposes of this report, the Discovery Islands facilities are the 18 farms identified in the Discovery Islands risk assessments and illustrated on the map (Figure 1). The two facilities culturing Chinook salmon (Yellow Island and Doctor Bay), three farms that are currently licensed but inactive (Dunsterville, Read Island and Young Passage), and one decommissioned experimental Chinook farm (Middle Point Bay) are not included. Additionally, two farms that are no longer licensed but were active since 2012 (Far Side and Frederick Arm), and three farms located in Fish Health Zone 3-3 (Shaw, Hardwicke and Althorpe) are included. The farms producing Atlantic salmon in the Discovery Passage area, as identified in the risk assessments, and included in the analysis in this report are:

Map showing marine fish farms in the Discovery Passage area (2020)
Figure 1. Marine fish farms in the Discovery Passage area (2020)
Long description

BC marine finfish aquaculture facilities, Discovery Islands

1:750,000
Coordinate system: NAD 1983 BC Environment Albers.
Produced by DFO Aquaculture Management Division.
Data: DFO licensed facilities as of August 26, 2020.
Map published: Sept 22, 2020.

This map is for information only and is not to be used for navigational purposes. For current list of licence holders, visit Aquaculture licensing in British Columbia.

BC marine finfish aquaculture facilities, Discovery Islands
Facility reference number Licence holder Facility common name Latitude Longitude Fish health zone 2020 production
1300 MOWI Canada West Althorpe 50.47531 -125.81 3.3 Active
871 Grieg Seafood BC Barnes Bay 50.32437 -125.26 3.2 Active
377 MOWI Canada West Bickley Bay 50.45308 -125.396 3.2 Fallow
1401 Cermaq Canada Brent Island 50.28613 -125.349 3.2 Active
388 MOWI Canada West Brougham Pt 50.37192 -125.38 3.2 Fallow
790 MOWI Canada West Chancellor 50.41723 -125.663 3.2 Active
733 MOWI Canada West Cyrus Rock 50.25682 -125.21 3.2 Fallow
456 Saltstream Engineering Doctor Bay 50.2521 -124.82 3.2 Active
138 MOWI Canada West Dunsterville 50.14512 -125.152 3.2 Fallow
1164 MOWI Canada West Far Side 50.48576 -125.274 3.2 Decommissioned
553 Mowi Canada West Frederick Arm 50.46975 -125.261 3.2 Decommissioned
1581 MOWI Canada West Hardwicke 50.41339 -125.77 3.3 Active
100 MOWI Canada West Lees Bay 50.41063 -125.7 3.2 Active
1770 Agrimarine Industries Inc. Middle Point Bay 50.09242 -125.313 3.2 Decommissioned
211 MOWI Canada West Okisollo 50.30946 -125.316 3.2 Active
78 MOWI Canada West Philips Arm 50.48825 -125.357 3.2 Active
304 Cermaq Canada Raza Island 50.32159 -125.009 3.2 Active
547 MOWI Canada West Read Island 50.15363 -125.147 3.2 Fallow
1136 MOWI Canada West Shaw Point 50.48527 -125.89 3.3 Active
380 MOWI Canada West Sonora Point 50.42362 -125.305 3.2 Active
378 MOWI Canada West Thurlow 50.40808 -125.341 3.2 Fallow
306 Cermaq Canada Venture Point 50.30241 -125.338 3.2 Active
216 Yellow Island Aquaculture Yellow Island 50.13274 -125.333 3.2 Active
769 MOWI Canada West Young Pass 50.35014 -125.342 3.2 Fallow

The Discovery Islands area is one of the main Atlantic salmon producing areas in BC with farms operated by MOWI Canada West, Cermaq Canada and Grieg Seafood BC. This area is generally quite good and consistent year-to-year with respect to environmental and fish health performance.

DFO conducts up to 120 randomized farm audits annually under the Fish Health Audit and Intelligence Program (FHAIP). These audits ensure the veracity of industry reported data, and compliance with Conditions of Licence (COL). DFO biologists and veterinarians collect samples to independently determine the fish health status of the farm at the time of audit, and ensure that any disease is being identified, mitigated and reported correctly by industry. Targeted audits have been added to the FHAIP in 2020 and are triggered at discretion of DFO biologists and veterinarians. These audits may or may not occur with advance warning to the company/facility.

Additional public information on the regulation and compliance of the marine finfish industry in British Columbia can be found through public reports on DFO’s Open Data Portal or the Pacific Region Aquaculture website (Appendix I).

Production

Farms in the Discovery Islands account for approximately 20% of Atlantic Salmon Production in British Columbia. There are 18 licensed facilities in the Discovery Islands with an average of 11 active facilities in a calendar year.

Bar graph showing annual production (harvest) from marine finfish farms in BC, by species, 2011-2019
Figure 2: Annual production (harvest) from marine finfish farms in BC, by species, 2011-2019
Long description
Annual production (harvest) from marine finfish farms in BC, by species, 2011-2019
Year Area Atlantic Pacific Sablefish
2011 Discovery 16897.6 19.6 0
Rest of BC 62456.0 3790.2 292.5
2012 Discovery 20743.52773 2.553496164 0
Rest of BC 45642.8 3501.3 23.9
2013 Discovery 14138.70223 11.9150416 0
Rest of BC 44277.3 5983.3 101.3
2014 Discovery 9248.936958 64.759038 0
Rest of BC 45005.5 6396.1 532.5
2015 Discovery 22599.391 5.079 0
Rest of BC 66902.5 3118.2 206.4
2016 Discovery 22168.82484 25.771 2.772
Rest of BC 63197.1 5119.1 258.7
2017 Discovery 20444.1795 11 12
Rest of BC 62350.2 2544.5 262.5
2018 Discovery 13902.804 19.125 0
Rest of BC 70430.3 2501.0 332.7
2019 Discovery 23304.988 3.725 0
Rest of BC 63133.4 2348.6 573.2

This graph shows the production farmed fish in the Discovery Islands (DI) compared to the rest of BC. The left vertical axis shows the amount (weight) of fish harvested from each area by species(illustrated by the coloured columns/bars). Annual production has ranged between 9000-23,000 tonnes between 2011-2019.

A large majority of production in the Discovery Islands is Atlantic salmon, and all facilities identified in the risk assessments produce Atlantic salmon. There are two small facilities, Yellow Island and Doctor Bay, which produce other species. Yellow Island is a very small facility, with its own hatchery on land, which focusses mainly on research and harvests only small numbers of large Chinook salmon each year. Doctor Bay also produces small amounts of Chinook salmon, and has historically cultured small numbers of sablefish (Anoplopoma fimbria). The production of Chinook salmon and sablefish in the Discovery Islands is so small that it is difficult to display on the graph

Fish health - mortality

The average monthly mortality at fish farms in the Discovery Islands is about half that of other farms in British Columbia.

Bar graph showing mortality at Atlantic salmon facilities in BC, by area
Figure 3: Mortality at Atlantic salmon facilities in BC, by area
Long description
Mortality at Atlantic salmon facilities in BC, by area
Year Area Environmental Disease Handling/ transport Mature Old Poor performer/ cull Predation
2013 Discovery 0.0% 0.2% 0.0% 0.0% 0.2% 0.1% 0.1%
Rest of BC 0.1% 0.3% 0.2% 0.0% 0.2% 0.1% 0.1%
2014 Discovery 0.1% 0.2% 0.1% 0.0% 0.1% 0.1% 0.1%
Rest of BC 0.2% 0.3% 0.1% 0.0% 0.2% 0.1% 0.0%
2015 Discovery 0.1% 0.2% 0.0% 0.0% 0.1% 0.2% 0.0%
Rest of BC 0.3% 0.3% 0.1% 0.1% 0.3% 0.2% 0.0%
2016 Discovery 0.0% 0.2% 0.0% 0.1% 0.2% 0.1% 0.0%
Rest of BC 0.5% 0.3% 0.1% 0.1% 0.3% 0.2% 0.0%
2017 Discovery 0.1% 0.2% 0.1% 0.0% 0.1% 0.1% 0.0%
Rest of BC 0.3% 0.3% 0.1% 0.0% 0.2% 0.1% 0.0%
2018 Discovery 0.0% 0.2% 0.2% 0.0% 0.1% 0.1% 0.0%
Rest of BC 0.7% 0.7% 0.2% 0.1% 0.3% 0.2% 0.0%
2019 Discovery 0.0% 0.3% 0.2% 0.1% 0.1% 0.2% 0.0%
Rest of BC 0.7% 0.3% 0.2% 0.0% 0.3% 0.2% 0.0%

This graph shows the average percent monthly mortality in DI compared to other farming regions of BC. It also shows the causes of death. Mortality rates in DI are generally less than 1% per month Farms in the DI typically experience lower mortalities than other regions of BC. Generally water quality is good (few instances of low dissolved oxygen events and harmful algal blooms) and disease is less frequent given the area and production practices.

A production practice which is unique to the Discovery Islands is that salmon smolts are generally not entered into any of the DI farms directly from freshwater hatcheries. This practice is in place due to the Myxozoan parasite Kudoa thyrsites. Kudoa infects salmon (both farmed and wild) and creates intramuscular cysts without resulting disease or compromise in the salmon host. However, post-mortem enzyme degradation of the cysts results in muscular liquefaction and therefore significant fillet quality downgrades. This parasite is ubiquitous in BC marine waters, but the degree of infection pressure seems much higher in the Discovery Islands. Industry has learned that by introducing smolts to areas outside the DIs first, and then months later transferring those fish into DI farms results in lower levels of infection, reducing subsequent cyst formation, and resulting in substantially fewer fillet downgrades. The exact mechanism of this protective effect is unclear, and is the subject of ongoing research.

This production practice means that without smolt entries occurring in the DI there is very little of the early mortality and production disease which often occur in the first months when smolts are at sea. The primary production disease affecting farmed Atlantic salmon in BC is Mouthrot which is caused by the ubiquitous marine bacteria Tenacibaculum maritimum. Mouthrot does not occur in Pacific salmon species, and only occurs in Atlantic salmon within their first 6-8 months at sea. This disease is treated with in-feed antibiotics and is responsible for the vast majority of antibiotic use in BC aquaculture.

Mortality events

The majority of mortality events in the Discovery Passage are caused by environmental conditions. In recent years, there has been more impact of handling and treatment, and improved auditing and reporting of events by industry.

Bar graph showing mortality events at marine finfish aquaculture facilities in BC, 2011-2019
Figure 4: Mortality events at marine finfish aquaculture facilities in BC, 2011-2019
Long description
Mortality events at marine finfish aquaculture facilities in BC, 2011-2019
Year Area Predation Physiological Environmental Mechanical Disease Other/ unknown
2011 Discovery 0 0 5 0 0 0
Rest of BC 0 0 8 0 0 0
2012 Discovery 0 0 0 0 0 0
Rest of BC 0 1 13 0 4 0
2013 Discovery 0 0 0 0 0 0
Rest of BC 0 2 4 0 1 0
2014 Discovery 0 0 5 0 0 0
Rest of BC 0 1 11 1 4 0
2015 Discovery 0 0 3 0 0 0
Rest of BC 0 1 21 0 0 2
2016 Discovery 0 0 4 0 0 1
Rest of BC 0 0 24 1 3 1
2017 Discovery 0 0 3 1 0 0
Rest of BC 2 0 28 8 0 0
2018 Discovery 0 0 6 4 1 0
Rest of BC 0 0 45 11 10 0
2019 Discovery 0 1 3 7 0 0
Rest of BC 0 0 58 13 0 1

A Mortality Event occurs when the number (or "biomass") of dead fish at a facility growing Atlantic or Pacific salmon exceeds the thresholds outlined by conditions of licence for 24hrs (4,000kg or 2% inventory) or five days (10,000kg or 5% inventory).

This graph shows the number of mortality events per active facility. Farms in the Discovery Islands typically experience a similar rate of mortality events to other areas of BC.

The increase in Mortality Events in 2018 is attributed mainly to unfavourable environmental conditions, but also to an increase in reporting due to increased compliance auditing efforts by DFO biologists beginning in 2016, which enforced reporting requirements. In 2012 and 2013, there were no reported Mortality events in DI. In 2011, 2014, 2015 there was a low number of mortality events reported and all were attributed to environmental conditions.

Mortality Events due to environmental factors are increased by the higher-than-normal presence of poor gill health issues which predispose fish to die when water conditions are adverse, such as during low dissolved oxygen or harmful algae bloom events.

Table 1: Mortality events at marine finfish aquaculture facilities in BC, 2011-2019
Date Licence holder Facility Species Probable cause or diagnosis
21-Jun-11 Marine Harvest Canada Conville Bay Atlantic Salmon Algae bloom
30-Jun-11 Cermaq Canada Brent Island Atlantic Salmon Algae bloom
30-Jun-11 Marine Harvest Canada Far Side Atlantic Salmon Algae bloom
30-Jun-11 Marine Harvest Canada Frederick Arm Atlantic Salmon Algae bloom
04-Jul-11 Marine Harvest Canada Brougham Point Atlantic Salmon Algae bloom
07-Jul-14 Cermaq Canada Brent Island Atlantic Salmon Low Dissolved Oxygen
16-Sep-14 Cermaq Canada Venture Point Atlantic Salmon Low Dissolved Oxygen
18-Sep-14 Cermaq Canada Brent Island Atlantic Salmon Low Dissolved Oxygen
23-Sep-14 Marine Harvest Canada Lees Bay Atlantic Salmon Algae bloom
16-Oct-14 Marine Harvest Canada Okisollo Atlantic Salmon Low Dissolved Oxygen
24-Jul-15 Marine Harvest Canada Lees Bay Atlantic Salmon Algae bloom
24-Jul-15 Marine Harvest Canada Phillips Arm Atlantic Salmon Algae bloom
24-Jul-15 Marine Harvest Canada Hardwicke Atlantic Salmon Algae bloom
3-Feb-16 Cermaq Canada Brent Island Atlantic Salmon Other - explain
11-Sep-16 Cermaq Canada Brent Island Atlantic Salmon Low Dissolved Oxygen
14-Sep-16 Grieg Seafood BC Barnes Bay Atlantic Salmon Low Dissolved Oxygen
26-Sep-16 Cermaq Canada Venture Point Atlantic Salmon Low Dissolved Oxygen
11-Oct-16 Marine Harvest Canada Okisollo Atlantic Salmon Low Dissolved Oxygen
24-Aug-17 Marine Harvest Canada Hardwicke Atlantic Salmon Algae bloom
31-Aug-17 Marine Harvest Canada Althorpe Atlantic Salmon Handling
8-Sep-17 Marine Harvest Canada Althorpe Atlantic Salmon Algae bloom
25-Sep-17 Marine Harvest Canada Hardwicke Atlantic Salmon Low Dissolved Oxygen
9-Mar-18 Cermaq Canada Raza Island Atlantic Salmon Algae bloom
1-Jun-18 Marine Harvest Canada Phillips Arm Atlantic Salmon Treatment
6-Jun-18 Grieg Seafood BC Barnes Bay Atlantic Salmon Non-infectious disease
6-Aug-18 Marine Harvest Canada Okisollo Atlantic Salmon Low Dissolved Oxygen
22-Aug-18 Cermaq Canada Venture Point Atlantic Salmon Low Dissolved Oxygen
28-Aug-18 Grieg Seafood BC Barnes Bay Atlantic Salmon Low Dissolved Oxygen
06-Sep-18 Cermaq Canada Brent Island Atlantic Salmon Handling
1-Oct-18 Cermaq Canada Venture Point Atlantic Salmon Low Dissolved Oxygen
8-Oct-18 Grieg Seafood BC Barnes Bay Atlantic Salmon Handling
9-Oct-18 Marine Harvest Canada Lees Bay Atlantic Salmon Treatment
19-Nov-18 Grieg Seafood BC Barnes Bay Atlantic Salmon Low Dissolved Oxygen
11-Jun-19 MOWI Canada West Sonora Point Atlantic Salmon Handling
27-Jun-19 MOWI Canada West Phillips Arm Atlantic Salmon Handling
08-Jul-19 MOWI Canada West Sonora Point Atlantic Salmon Handling
12-Jul-19 MOWI Canada West Chancellor Channel Atlantic Salmon Handling
16-Jul-19 MOWI Canada West Phillips Arm Atlantic Salmon Handling
31-Jul-19 MOWI Canada West Sonora Point Atlantic Salmon Handling
16-Aug-19 MOWI Canada West Althorpe Atlantic Salmon Low Dissolved Oxygen
19-Aug-19 MOWI Canada West Chancellor Channel Atlantic Salmon Maturation
28-Aug-19 MOWI Canada West Lees Bay Atlantic Salmon Low Dissolved Oxygen
2-Sep-19 MOWI Canada West Hardwicke Atlantic Salmon Low Dissolved Oxygen
30-Oct-19 MOWI Canada West Okisollo Atlantic Salmon Treatment

Fish health events

The occurrence of fish health events at farms in the Discovery Islands is generally lower than in other areas of British Columbia.

Bar graph showing fish health events at marine finfish facilities in BC, 2016-2019
Figure 5: Fish health events at marine finfish facilities in BC, 2016-2019
Long description
Fish health events at marine finfish facilities in BC, 2016-2019
Year Area Parasitic Bacterial Non-infectious environmental Reportable Other/ undiagnosed
2016 Discovery 0 1 0 0 0
Rest of BC 0 40 0 2 0
2017 Discovery 0 4 0 0 0
Rest of BC 0 32 1 0 0
2018 Discovery 0 1 0 0 0
Rest of BC 4 36 1 0 1
2019 Discovery 0 2 0 0 0
Rest of BC 0 35 0 0 4

A Fish Health Event(FHE) occurs when veterinary intervention is required due to a suspected or diagnosed disease at a facility and mitigation is applied. Mitigation most often takes the form of antibiotic treatments, but could also be any of: culling, accelerated harvest, quarantine, enhanced biosecurity, disease investigation or reducing stress. Fish Health Events are sometimes, but not always, associated with a Mortality Event.

This graph shows the number of FHEs per active facility. Farms in the Discovery Islands typically experience a lower rate of FHEs than in other areas in BC. There have been eight treatment events since 2016 and most of these were attributed to mouthrot.

Table 2: Mortality events at marine finfish aquaculture facilities in BC, 2011-2019
Date Licence holder Facility Species Veterinary diagnosis
Jan-16 Cermaq Canada Raza Island Atlantic Salmon Mouthrot
26-Jun-17 Grieg Seafood BC Barnes Bay Atlantic Salmon Mouthrot
Jul-17 Cermaq Canada Brent Island Atlantic Salmon Mouthrot
18-Oct-17 Marine Harvest Canada Okisollo Atlantic Salmon Furunculosis
04-Nov-17 Cermaq Canada Raza Island Atlantic Salmon Mouthrot
14-May-18 Marine Harvest Canada Shaw Point Atlantic Salmon Mouthrot
13-Apr-19 MOWI Canada West Shaw Point Atlantic Salmon Mouthrot
01-Nov-19 Cermaq Canada Raza Island Atlantic Salmon Mouthrot

Fish health audits

DFO conducts at least 120 marine farm audits annually under the Fish Health Audit and Intelligence Program (FHAIP). Approximately 850 fish are sampled and submitted for diagnostic testing annually. From 2011-2018 DFO conducted 118 audits at Atlantic salmon farms in the Discovery Islands. These farms generally have less disease diagnosed than the industry average.

Bar graph showing fish health audits at marine finfish facilities in BC, 2011-2018
Figure 6: Fish health audits at marine finfish facilities in BC, 2011-2018
Long description
Fish health audits at marine finfish facilities in BC, 2011-2018
Year Area No significant disease(s) identified Undiagnosed Non-infectious environmental or bacterial disease(s) identified Reportable disease
2011 Discovery 12 1 0 0
Rest of BC 32 6 12 0
2012 Discovery 22 1 1 0
Rest of BC 68 11 11 0
2013 Discovery 11 2 0 0
Rest of BC 71 8 22 0
2014 Discovery 16 0 0 0
Rest of BC 74 6 12 0
2015 Discovery 17 0 1 0
Rest of BC 66 6 27 0
2016 Discovery 15 3 3 0
Rest of BC 60 13 19 0
2017 Discovery 13 2 1 0
Rest of BC 81 6 13 0
2018 Discovery 17 2 1 0
Rest of BC 62 4 32 0

DFO biologists and veterinarians conduct randomized routine audits of marine salmon farms. In 2020, targeted audits were also added to the FHAIP which are triggered at the discretion of DFO veterinarians when there may be elevated risk, or suspected/confirmed non-compliance. During these audits, all aspects of fish health and husbandry are reviewed, as well as compliance with the conditions of licence and Health Management Plan (HMP). Samples of moribund and/or recently dead fish are taken by DFO auditors on site and sent to a certified diagnostic laboratory for analysis including: bacteriology, virology, PCR, and histopathology. Additional molecular diagnostics and special staining (for histopathology) may be used at the discretion of the veterinarian and veterinary pathologist(s). DFO veterinarians review the results of the diagnostic testing; along with the field notes on fish behavior and appearance, recent mortality, handling and treatment events, and gross necropsy notes, to make a farm-level diagnosis.

Bar graph showing fish health audits at marine finfish facilities in BC, 2012-2018
Figure 7: Fish health audits at marine finfish facilities in BC, 2012-2018
Long description
Fish health audits at marine finfish facilities in BC, 2012-2018
- Not Infectious Infectious
Year Area Low D.O - hypoxia Mixed etiology No disease Open - no known cause/ no significant lesions Predation - seal/ sea lion Bacterial kidney disease Mouth rot (filamentous myxobacteriosis) Salmonid rickettsial septicaemia Winter ulcer Amoebic gill disease
2012 Other 1.16% 2.33% 11.63% 52.33% 9.30% 6.98% 5.81% 2.33% 1.16% 0.00%
Discovery 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 77.27% 4.55% 9.09% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00%
2013 Other 1.00% 7.00% 8.00% 44.00% 7.00% 8.00% 10.00% 6.00% 0.00% 0.00%
Discovery 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 77.78% 22.22% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00%
2014 Other 0.00% 2.11% 82.11% 4.21% 0.00% 3.16% 7.37% 0.00% 0.00% 1.05%
Discovery 0.00% 0.00% 87.50% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 6.25% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00%
2015 Other 0.00% 1.96% 74.51% 2.94% 0.00% 1.96% 4.90% 8.82% 0.98% 2.94%
Discovery 0.00% 0.00% 94.44% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 5.56% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00%
2016 Other 0.00% 3.33% 63.33% 11.11% 0.00% 0.00% 11.11% 7.78% 1.11% 0.00%
Discovery 0.00% 0.00% 78.95% 5.26% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 15.79% 0.00% 0.00%
2017 Other 3.96% 5.94% 67.33% 7.92% 0.00% 1.98% 2.97% 0.99% 1.98% 0.00%
Discovery 6.25% 0.00% 75.00% 12.50% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00%
2018 Other 0.00% 4.12% 59.79% 4.12% 0.00% 0.00% 9.28% 8.25% 2.06% 2.06%
Discovery 0.00% 0.00% 88.89% 5.56% 0.00% 0.00% 5.56% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00%

This graph displays the farm-level diagnoses made by DFO veterinarians from 2012- 2018. The bar charts on the top half show data from all salmon farming regions in BC except for Discovery Islands. The bottom half shows the data from Discovery Islands only.

The left axis lists the different diagnoses that have been made during this period. The light-blue bars indicate that the diagnosis was not an infectious disease, and the dark blue bars indicate where an infectious disease was present.

In all areas of BC (including Discovery Islands), the majority of farm-level diagnoses are ‘open’ or ‘no disease’. An ‘open’ diagnosis indicates that there is no know or obvious disease present. Between 2013 and 2014, a change in reporting categories saw a change in language from ‘open’ to ‘no disease’.

Sea lice

Since 2011 there have been 14 incidents of sea lice threshold exceedances during the juvenile salmon outmigration period (March- June) in the Discovery Islands.

Bar graph showing average abundance of motile L.salmonis sea lice at marine finfish aquaculture facilities in BC, 2011- 2020
Figure 8: Average abundance of motile L.salmonis sea lice at marine finfish aquaculture facilities in BC, 2011- 2020
Long description
Average abundance of motile L.salmonis sea lice at marine finfish aquaculture facilities in BC, 2011- 2020
Year Area Season Discovery DI outmigration Rest of BC BC Outmigration
2011 Discovery Jan-Feb 0.444444444 - - -
Mar-Jun - 0.753191489 - -
July-Sep 1.363636364 - - -
Oct-Dec 1.209090909 - - -
Rest of BC Jan-Feb - - 0.888372093 -
Mar-Jun - - - 0.406741573
July-Sep - - 1.461111111 -
Oct-Dec - - 1.713274336 -
2012 Discovery Jan-Feb 1.391304348 - - -
Mar-Jun - 1.761764706 - -
July-Sep 0.954545455 - - -
Oct-Dec 3.285 - - -
Rest of BC Jan-Feb - - 0.690410959 -
Mar-Jun - - - 0.696296296
July-Sep - - 1.341666667 -
Oct-Dec - - 2.169444444 -
2013 Discovery Jan-Feb 2.325 - - -
Mar-Jun - 0.3625 - -
July-Sep 1.342857143 - - -
Oct-Dec 3.666666667 - - -
Rest of BC Jan-Feb - - 1.945614035 -
Mar-Jun - - - 1.033834586
July-Sep - - 2.005813953 -
Oct-Dec - - 3.730769231 -
2014 Discovery Jan-Feb 1.43 - - -
Mar-Jun - 0.775 - -
July-Sep 1.988888889 - - -
Oct-Dec 2.218181818 - - -
Rest of BC Jan-Feb - - 1.948648649 -
Mar-Jun - - - 0.635064935
July-Sep - - 1.466981132 -
Oct-Dec - - 2.488392857 -
2015 Discovery Jan-Feb 2.592857143 - - -
Mar-Jun - 2.272 - -
July-Sep 1.368421053 - - -
Oct-Dec 2.395454545 - - -
Rest of BC Jan-Feb - - 1.987654321 -
Mar-Jun - - - 2.249723757
July-Sep - - 3.418446602 -
Oct-Dec - - 2.065833333 -
2016 Discovery Jan-Feb 0.893333333 - - -
Mar-Jun - 0.98 - -
July-Sep 0.673076923 - - -
Oct-Dec 4.97037037 - - -
Rest of BC Jan-Feb - - 1.285897436 -
Mar-Jun - - - 1.081528662
July-Sep - - 1.165 -
Oct-Dec - - 2.42020202 -
2017 Discovery Jan-Feb 2.498333333 - - -
Mar-Jun - 0.50204335 - -
July-Sep 1.111378385 - - -
Oct-Dec 3.468557099 - - -
Rest of BC Jan-Feb - - 3.858915778 -
Mar-Jun - - - 1.332788092
July-Sep - - 1.261411476 -
Oct-Dec - - 2.142982321 -
2018 Discovery Jan-Feb 0.166412037 - - -
Mar-Jun - 0.214928102 - -
July-Sep 1.216722222 - - -
Oct-Dec 2.19094736 - - -
Rest of BC Jan-Feb - - 1.467702636 -
Mar-Jun - - - 2.936815179
July-Sep - - 4.497252757 -
Oct-Dec - - 1.376120194 -
2019 Discovery Jan-Feb 1.751446324 - - -
Mar-Jun - 1.612489791 - -
July-Sep 1.973250784 - - -
Oct-Dec 2.348405556 - - -
Rest of BC Jan-Feb - - 0.986444654 -
Mar-Jun - - - 1.233499041
July-Sep - - 2.062111405 -
Oct-Dec - - 3.043685448 -
2020 Discovery Jan-Feb 1.997142857 - - -
Mar-Jun - 1.755932863 - -
July-Sep Not available - - -
Oct-Dec Not available - - -
Rest of BC Jan-Feb - - 1.591093365 -
Mar-Jun - - - 1.388650465
July-Sep - - Not available -
Oct-Dec - - Not available -

This graph shows the average monthly sea lice abundance in the Discovery Islands and in the rest of BC. The bold, black horizontal line indicates the sea lice threshold as set out in the Conditions of Licence (i.e. 3 motile L. salmonis per fish). The coloured bars are grouped by sets of months, with the bright green bars indicating the juvenile salmon outmigration period in the Discovery Islands, and the bright yellow bars indicating the outmigration for the other farming regions of BC. Additional details on the abundance during the juvenile salmon outmigration period are shown in Figure 9.

Bar graph showing average abundance of motile L.salmonis sea lice, during the juvenile salmon outmigration period, at marine finfish aquaculture facilities in BC, 2011- 2020
Figure 9: Average abundance of motile L.salmonis sea lice, during the juvenile salmon outmigration period, at marine finfish aquaculture facilities in BC, 2011- 2020
Long description
Average abundance of motile L.salmonis sea lice, during the juvenile salmon outmigration period, at marine finfish aquaculture facilities in BC, 2011- 2020
Year Area Month Discovery Rest of BC
2011 Discovery March 0.541666667 -
April 0.466666667 -
May 0.790909091 -
June 1.216666667 -
Rest of BC March - 0.341463415
April - 0.313333333
May - 0.431914894
June - 0.533333333
2012 Discovery March 1.592307692 -
April 2.2 -
May 1.5 -
June - -
Rest of BC March - 0.621212121
April - 0.841176471
May - 0.626315789
June - 0.766666667
2013 Discovery March 0.56 -
April 0.35 -
May 0.25 -
June 0.2 -
Rest of BC March - 1.424242424
April - 1.212121212
May - 0.763888889
June - 0.741935484
2014 Discovery March 0.68 -
April 0.557142857 -
May 0.816666667 -
June 1.066666667 -
Rest of BC March - 0.819444444
April - 0.837837838
May - 0.497560976
June - 0.4225
2015 Discovery March 3.6 -
April 3.5 -
May 1.08 -
June 1.0875 -
Rest of BC March - 1.854761905
April - 2.47
May - 2.276086957
June - 2.351162791
2016 Discovery March 0.985714286 -
April 1.533333333 -
May 0.825 -
June 0.744444444 -
Rest of BC March - 1.317948718
April - 1.235
May - 0.88974359
June - 0.879487179
2017 Discovery March 0.239477513 -
April 0.44525463 -
May 0.718583333 -
June 0.776041667 -
Rest of BC March - 2.809222978
April - 0.910695562
May - 1.158072165
June - 0.682009399
2018 Discovery March 0.126311728 -
April 0.297569444 -
May 0.198670635 -
June 0.231556153 -
Rest of BC March - 2.240916989
April - 2.657649035
May - 3.391604047
June - 3.453644299
2019 Discovery March 2.388502135 -
April 1.507333333 -
May 1.206820988 -
June 1.217152778 -
Rest of BC March - 1.044873723
April - 1.047032307
May - 2.009120753
June - 0.676960691
2020 Discovery March 2.137380051 -
April 1.839662162 -
May 1.110429293 -
June 1.870587607 -
Rest of BC March - 1.477328591
April - 1.121431684
May - 1.746564937
June - 1.185063034

This graph shows the average monthly sea lice abundance, during the juvenile salmon outmigration period, in the Discovery Islands and in the rest of BC. The bold, black horizontal line indicates the sea lice threshold as set out in the Conditions of Licence (i.e. 3 motile L. salmonis per fish).

As a condition of licence (COL), all farms have been required to regularly sample and report sea lice numbers on farms. The licence also sets out a threshold of three motile lice per fish as a precautionary management threshold to trigger mitigation and/or increased sampling/reporting depending on the time of year. This licence requirement ensures that sea lice numbers are at their lowest during the outmigration period of wild juvenile salmon (March 1st –June 30th annually). DFO audits 50% of all active facilities during the outmigration period, and approximately 15% of active facilities per quarter during the remainder of the year. These sea lice audits involve a comprehensive review of sea lice sampling technique, counting methodology and sea lice classification. DFO auditor counts are compared to industry counts statistically to identify any error in the counting and classification methodology.

New licence conditions came into effect in March 2020 which increased sampling and reporting requirements around sea lice management on farms. These changes were made with contributions and feedback from First Nations, non-government environmental groups, industry and stakeholders. With the new licence conditions, there is mandatory reporting of pre- and post-treatment sea lice numbers to allow DFO to monitor treatment efficacy and thereby detect and mitigate emerging resistance to sea lice treatments. There is a requirement for all lice removed mechanically to be captured, and the language of the licence has been improved to increase enforceability.

Farms in the Discovery Islands typically experience high lice infections in the fall as wild adult salmon return to spawn and carry with them high lice loads. Generally DI farms have performed better than industry average for sea lice management during the critical outmigration period. The number of facilities which have an exceedance, and the time spent in exceedance of the threshold are typically fewer and shorter than other farming areas. The DI farms have not had widespread occurrence of SLICE resistance, which have been seen in other farming areas resulting in significant sea lice management challenges. On the farms, sea lice mitigation efforts have generally resulted in reducing lice loads prior to the juvenile salmon outmigration period. Details on the mitigation treatments can be found in the Therapeutants section below.

Table 3: Sea Lice exceedances during juvenile salmon outmigration period at marine finfish aquaculture facilities in the Discovery Islands, 2011-2019
Year/month Licence holder Facility Maximum sea lice abundance Number of months over threshold
June 2011 Marine Harvest Canada Chancellor Channel 4.0 1
March 2012 Marine Harvest Canada Hardwicke 9.2 1
April 2012 Marine Harvest Canada Brougham Point 5.9 1
April 2012 Marine Harvest Canada Okisollo 4.4 1
April 2012 Marine Harvest Canada Sonora Point 4.2 1
May 2012 Marine Harvest Canada Thurlow 4.9 1
May 2014 Marine Harvest Canada Sonora Point 3.5 2
March 2015 Marine Harvest Canada Hardwicke 10.1 2
March 2015 Marine Harvest Canada Lees Bay 15.8 1
June 2015 Cermaq Canada Brent Island 4.9 1
April 2016 Marine Harvest Canada Okisollo 4.0 1
March 2019 MOWI Canada West Hardwicke 7.9 2
March 2019 MOWI Canada West Shaw Point 5.7 3
June 2019 MOWI Canada West Chancellor Channel 3.1 1
March 2020 MOWI Canada West Lees Bay 13.8 2
March 2020 MOWI Canada West Shaw Point 20.9 4
April 2020 Grieg Seafood BC Barnes Bay 3.3 1
April 2020 Cermaq Canada Brent Island 5.4 1
June 2020 MOWI Canada West Lees Bay 6.8 1
June 2020 MOWI Canada West Okisollo 7.0 1
June 2020 Cermaq Canada Venture Point 3.2 1

Sea lice audits

Within the 120 marine farm audits conducted annually; 50% of all active facilities will be subject to a sea lice audit during the outmigration period, and approximately 25% of facilities will be audited during the remainder of the year for a total of approximately 40 sea lice audits annually. From 2011-2019 DFO conduced 60 sea lice audits at DI farms.

Bar graph showing fish health and sea lice treatment events and finfish aquaculture facilities in BC by area, 2013-2019
Figure 10: Fish health and sea lice treatment events and finfish aquaculture facilities in BC by area, 2013-2019
Long description
Fish health and sea lice treatment events and finfish aquaculture facilities in BC by area, 2013-2019
Year Area Statistical agreement Statistical difference, methodology meets requirements Statistical difference, follow-up action taken Number of audits
2011 Discovery 7 0 0 7
Rest of BC 27 1 0 28
2012 Discovery 10 0 0 10
Rest of BC 29 2 0 31
2013 Discovery 6 0 0 6
Rest of BC 31 0 1 32
2014 Discovery 5 0 0 5
Rest of BC 27 3 0 30
2015 Discovery 8 0 0 8
Rest of BC 30 3 5 38
2016 Discovery 6 1 0 7
Rest of BC 31 2 1 34
2017 Discovery 5 1 0 6
Rest of BC 34 1 5 40
2018 Discovery 6 1 0 7
Rest of BC 36 6 0 42
2019 Discovery 7 0 0 7
Rest of BC 40 4 0 44

During a sea lice audit, DFO auditors conduct a comprehensive review of sea lice sampling technique, counting methodology and sea lice classification. Farm staff count sea lice on 10 fish from at least three pens (at least 30 fish total), which is the minimum required for a ‘counting event’ as defined in the licence. DFO auditors observe the counting technique and lice identification, and conduct an independent count of 10 fish from each of the same pens. DFO auditor counts are compared to industry counts statistically to identify any error in the counting and classification methodology. If a deficiency in sampling technique, counting rigor, sea lice life stage or species ID is identified, the company is issued a deficiency letter and this is deficiency is noted and checked for resolution at the next audit. A repeated deficiency may be classified as a non-compliance, and referred to DFO Conservation and Protection for possible prosecution.

Fish health and sea lice treatments

Farms in the Discovery Islands perform about ¼ of the antibacterial treatments compared to the rest of BC. Mechanical and bath treatments for sea lice are on par with the rest of the province and SLICE© treatments are slightly higher than other regions.

Bar graph showing fish health and sea lice treatment events and finfish aquaculture facilities in BC by area, 2013-2019
Figure 11: Fish health and sea lice treatment events and finfish aquaculture facilities in BC by area, 2013-2019
Long description
Fish health and sea lice treatment events and finfish aquaculture facilities in BC by area, 2013-2019
Year Area Antibacterial Hydrogen Peroxide Slice Hydrolicer FW bath
2013 Discovery 3 0 8 0 0
Rest of BC 51 0 32 0 0
2014 Discovery 1 0 9 0 0
Rest of BC 48 1 33 0 0
2015 Discovery 3 0 12 0 0
Rest of BC 66 8 45 0 0
2016 Discovery 1 3 9 0 0
Rest of BC 51 10 30 0 0
2017 Discovery 4 1 5 0 0
Rest of BC 48 19 42 0 0
2018 Discovery 0 3 6 0 0
Rest of BC 61 19 28 0 0
2019 Discovery 3 0 6 2 3
Rest of BC 58 15 48 7 3

This graph shows the number of treatments per active facility in the Discovery Islands and in the rest of BC. A tabular summary of the treatments in the Discovery Islands can be found below.

‘Antibacterial’ indicates a treatment with antibiotics for a specific reason (infection). Antibiotics are always prescribed by a licensed veterinarian. Fish are usually medicated by adding the antibiotic to the fish food and feeding it to the fish. The rate of antibacterial treatments is generally lower than in other regions, as farms in this area tend to have much less Mouthrot due to the production practice of not stocking smolts into the area directly from the hatchery.

‘Hydrogen peroxide’ refers to a sea lice bath treatment, where fish are taken from their sea pens and placed into a large boat filled with a special type of hydrogen peroxide compound for a few hours. This kills the sea lice so they fall off the fish. The fish are then placed back into their sea pens, and the lice are captured and composted in land-based facilities. Hydrogen Peroxide treatments have been successfully utilized in the Discovery Islands since 2015. No hydrogen peroxide treatments were applied in 2019.

‘SLICE’ refers to a medication given to fish that kills sea lice and prevents them from reattaching for some period of time. Like antibiotic treatments, the medication is added to the fish feed. This medication can only be prescribed by a licensed veterinarian.

‘FW bath’ refers to a sea lice bath treatment, where fish are taken from their sea pens and placed into a large boat filled with freshwater for a few hours. This causes the sea lice to then fall off the fish. The fish are placed back into their sea pens and the lice are captured and composted in a land-based facility. The use of freshwater baths were first implemented in the Discovery Islands in 2019.

‘Hydrolicer’ refers to a mechanical sea lice treatment, where fish are removed from their sea pens and travel through a system on a boat that sprays pressurized water at the fish, and removes the lice. The fish are then placed back into their sea pens and the lice are captured and composted in a land-based facility. Hydrolicer treatments are a new method of sea lice mitigation in BC and were implemented in 2019. These treatments have been applied in the Discovery Islands farms as a successful method of lice removal.

Many novel techniques (e.g. hydrolicer, hydrogen peroxide, freshwater) to manage sea lice have been implemented in the Discovery Islands and elsewhere beginning in 2015. The adoption of alternative methods for sea lice control, and their rotational use is part of an Integrated Pest Management approach which helps to prevent the development of medication resistance and allows for improved control.

Table 4: Antibiotic and sea lice treatments in the Discovery Islands, 2013-2019
Year Treatment Number of treatments
2013 SLICE © 8
Florfenicol 3
2014 SLICE © 9
Florfenicol 1
2015 SLICE © 12
Florfenicol 3
2016 SLICE © 9
Florfenicol 1
Hydrogen Peroxide 3
2017 SLICE © 5
Florfenicol 4
Hydrogen Peroxide 4
2018 SLICE © 6
Hydrogen Peroxide 3
2019 SLICE © 6
Florfenicol 3
FW bath treatment 3
Hydrogen Peroxide 2

Benthic performance

Since 2011, 96% of marine finfish aquaculture sites monitored in the Discovery Islands were below regulatory thresholds, compared to 84% in other areas of BC.

Bar graph showing benthic performance and marine finfish facilities in BC, 2011-2018
Figure 12: Benthic performance and marine finfish facilities in BC, 2011-2018
Long description
Benthic performance and marine finfish facilities in BC, 2011-2018
Year Area Above regulatory thresholds Below regulatory thresholds
2011 Discovery 1 6
Rest of BC 12 43
2012 Discovery 0 11
Rest of BC 9 37
2013 Discovery 1 4
Rest of BC 6 40
2014 Discovery 0 3
Rest of BC 3 38
2015 Discovery 0 7
Rest of BC 10 44
2016 Discovery 0 6
Rest of BC 7 38
2017 Discovery 0 6
Rest of BC 7 38
2018 Discovery 0 5
Rest of BC 4 34
2019 Discovery 0 5
Rest of BC 5 10

Conditions of Licence require industry to conduct monitoring of the sea floor at peak production to ensure that thresholds for indication of harm are not exceeded. The presence of free sulphides in sediments are monitored for soft bottom sites, and the presence of sulphide oxidizing bacteria (e.g. Beggiatoa sp.) and OPC (polychaetes) are monitored for hard bottom sites. If thresholds are exceeded, the facility may not be stocked again until further monitoring indicates that the sea floor has adequately recovered. Overall, benthic impact at farms has been decreasing, likely due to better food conversion and digestibility of feed, decreased stocking densities, and moving containment arrays further offshore in deeper water and faster currents.

Table 5: Benthic threshold exceedances at marine finfish aquaculture facilities in the Discovery Islands, 2011-2019
Date Licence holder Facility Sea bed type Survey results
28-Mar-11 Marine Harvest Canada Shaw Point Soft Substrate 1 of 8 sediment sampling stations had chemical changes to the seabed which require additional monitoring
28-Mar-13 Marine Harvest Canada Phillips Arm Soft Substrate 1 of 4 sediment sampling stations had chemical changes to the seabed which require additional monitoring

Incidental catch and wild mortalities

The number of wild fish killed at fish farms in the Discovery Islands is significantly lower than in other areas of British Columbia, accounting for only 2% of all dead wild fish captured at marine fish farms since 2011.

Bar graph showing incidental Catch and Wild Mortalities captured at finfish facilities in BC, 2013-2019
Figure 13: Incidental Catch and Wild Mortalities captured at finfish facilities in BC, 2013-2019
Long description
Incidental Catch and Wild Mortalities captured at finfish facilities in BC, 2013-2019
Year Area Other Groundfish Herring Pelagic Rockfish Sablefish Salmon/ trout
2011 Discovery 7 69 1457 21 2 1 30
Rest of BC 60 281 6376 1296 1751 5 28
2012 Discovery 0 58 2000 44 0 43 19
Rest of BC 208 2119 415490 164 38 0 68
2013 Discovery 655 549 6209 0 1 0 0
Rest of BC 52150 1546 66110 259 2527 50 43
2014 Discovery 359 186 4230 0 1 2
Rest of BC 10660 748 197423 2138 3758 0 20
2015 Discovery 83 5009 4988 15 4 1 8
Rest of BC 2979 9474 88027 82579 532 59 63
2016 Discovery 1464 136 4079 351 0 28 5
Rest of BC 1428 6278 242801 104241 3688 1139 20
2017 Discovery 12 91 679 151 2 48 4
Rest of BC 349 24228 200582 59821 15332 2565 2
2018 Discovery 16 23 798 5 8 5 2
Rest of BC 616 1845 94958 23487 3993 1044 9
2019 Discovery 76 34 1411 11 4 0 0
Rest of BC 1105 972 80936 63587 437 124 6

‘Incidental catch’ are any wild fish that are captured as a result of aquaculture activities including harvest, transfer or net removal. Licence holders are required to report both dead and released incidental catch, but only dead fish are publicly reported.

Wild mortalities are any wild fish that died or were captured within an aquaculture facility, where the cause of death or capture cannot be directly attributed to aquaculture activities. These are fish that are brought up in routine mortality uplifts, or scooped out of pens when harvest or transfer activities are not being performed.

Licence holders are required to release all fish with least harm whenever possible. More than 70% of wild fish that are captured in aquaculture facilities are released back into the surrounding environment without harm.

DFO conducts inspections of harvest and transfer events at farm sites on an opportunistic basis. In addition, in 2018 and 2019, inspections occurred at fish processing plants to observe wild fish presence. This work ensures mitigation is followed at farms, and that wild fish are properly identified, recorded and reported to DFO.

Marine mammals

Since 2011, there have been 17 accidental drownings of marine mammals at fish farms in the Discovery Islands. Authorized fatalities are no longer allowed.

Bar graph showing marine mammal fatalities at marine finfish facilities in BC by species, 1990-2019
Figure 14: Marine mammal fatalities at marine finfish facilities in BC by species, 1990-2019
Long description
Marine mammal fatalities at marine finfish facilities in BC by species, 1990-2019
Year Area California sea lion Harbour seal Humpback whale Stellar sea lion Unknown
2011 Discovery 8 48 0 0 0
Rest of BC 224 22 0 2 0
2012 Discovery 0 10 0 0 0
Rest of BC 10 8 0 0 1
2013 Discovery 0 0 0 0 0
Rest of BC 4 3 1 0 0
2014 Discovery 0 3 0 0 0
Rest of BC 6 6 0 0 0
2015 Discovery 0 5 0 0 0
Rest of BC 25 12 0 0 0
2016 Discovery 1 0 0 0 0
Rest of BC 4 1 3 0 0
2017 Discovery 0 0 0 0 0
Rest of BC 0 2 0 0 0
2018 Discovery 1 0 0 0 0
Rest of BC 1 1 1 0 0
2019 Discovery 0 0 0 0 0
Rest of BC 0 0 0 0 0

Marine mammal deaths at marine fish farms have declined. Anti-predator netting, above water fencing and electric wires are effective when properly employed and maintained. As marine mammal populations grow in BC, new strategies to manage interactions with fish farms will be particularly important. These new technologies include improved net materials, non-harmful acoustic tools, and olfactory deterrents.

This graph shows the number of marine mammal fatalities per active facility at farms in the Discovery Islands and in other areas in BC.

The decrease in mortalities since 2012 coincides with the use of a new net material and with public reporting of marine mammal kills. Recently, the marine finfish aquaculture industry adopted a no-kill policy and DFO has retracted the authorization to dispatch pinnipeds.

Table 6: Marine Mammal fatalities at marine finfish aquaculture facilities in the Discovery Islands, 2011-2019
Facility Licence holder Year Marine mammal Interaction
Barnes Bay Grieg Seafood 2012 Harbour seal 1 accidental drowning
2014 Harbour seal 3 accidental drowning
2015 Harbour seal 3 accidental drowning
2016 California sea lion 1 authorized fatality
2018 California sea lion 1 accidental drowning
Bickley Bay Marine Harvest Canada 2011 Harbour seal 6 authorized fatalities
Brent Island Cermaq Canada 2011 Harbour seal 3 authorized fatalities
2012 Harbour seal 1 authorized fatality
Brougham Point Marine Harvest Canada 2012 Harbour seal 4 accidental drowning
Chancellor Channel Marine Harvest Canada 2011 Harbour seal 9 authorized fatalities
Far Side Marine Harvest Canada 2011 California sea lion 3 authorized fatalities
Frederick Arm Marine Harvest Canada 2011 California sea lion 2 authorized fatalities
Harbour seal 1 authorized fatality
Hardwicke Marine Harvest Canada 2011 California sea lion 1 authorized fatality
Harbour seal 7 authorized fatality
Lees Bay Marine Harvest Canada 2011 California sea lion 2 authorized fatalities
Harbour seal 11 authorized fatalities
Okisollo Marine Harvest Canada 2015 Harbour seal 2 accidental drownings
Phillips Arm Marine Harvest Canada 2011 Harbour seal 11 authorized fatalities
Raza Island Mainstream Canada 2012 Harbour seal 1 authorized fatality
Sonora Point Marine Harvest Canada 2012 Harbour seal 2 accidental drowning
Thurlow Marine Harvest Canada 2012 Harbour seal 1 authorized fatality

Escapes

Between 2011- 2019, there has been only one major escape of Atlantic salmon from facilities in the Discovery Islands

Bar graph showing escapes of cultured salmon from marine finfish facilities in BC, 2011-2019
Figure 15: Escapes of cultured salmon from marine finfish facilities in BC, 2011-2019
Long description
Escapes of cultured salmon from marine finfish facilities in BC, 2011-2019
Year Area Atlantic Pacific
2011 Discovery 0 0
Rest of BC 12 0
2012 Discovery 0 0
Rest of BC 8 2746
2013 Discovery 0 0
Rest of BC 0 250
2014 Discovery 0 0
Rest of BC 20 0
2015 Discovery 0 0
Rest of BC 2 1
2016 Discovery 0 0
Rest of BC 1 0
2017 Discovery 0 0
Rest of BC 2 0
2018 Discovery 0 0
Rest of BC 13 0
2019 Discovery 0 0
Rest of BC 21031 0

This graph shows the number of escaped salmon in the Discovery Islands since 2011. There have been two significant escape events of Chinook salmon in this area. The first occurred in 2012 at an experimental semi-closed containment facility, Middle Bay, that capsized in a storm event. The second occurred during a transfer of fish from a transport truck to a vessel at Discovery Harbour. Approximately 200-300 small fish spilled off the deck of the transport vessel.

Technological improvements in containment material and anchoring systems along with more diligent inspections and maintenance of infrastructure have decreased escape events from marine finfish facilities in BC. Additionally, improvements and deployments of anti-predator technologies have reduced marine mammal interactions, which can cause damage to infrastructure leading to escapes. DFO conducts opportunistic inspections of marine finfish facilities to ensure compliance with conditions of licence aimed at preventing escapes including having and complying with an Escape Prevention and Response Plan and review of net maintenance records.

Table 7: Escapes from marine finfish aquaculture facilities in the Discovery Islands, 2011-2020
Date Licence holder Facility Species Number of fish Cause of escape
12-Mar-12 Agrimarine Industries Middle Bay Chinook salmon 2745 alive Extreme weather event, equipment failure
13-Jan-13 Grieg Seafood n/a Coho salmon 250 live Equipment failure
15-Sept-17 Cermaq Canada Venture Point Atlantic salmon 5 dead Equipment failure
24-May-20 MOWI Canada West Shaw Point Atlantic salmon 1066 alive Hole in net caused by equipment; Unexplained inventory discrepancy

Health Management Plan (HMP) compliance

A Health Management Plan is a requirement in the marine aquaculture licence. The HMP outlines fish health and biosecurity principles which the licence holder must meet. The company develops Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) which specify how they will meet the principles of the HMP. An review of compliance with HMP principles is conducted at every site audit, and company SOPs are reviewed annually. DI farms have slightly above industry average HMP compliance.

A total of 1034 HMP site inspections were completed between 2011 2019. All facilities are in compliance with the licence in that they have implemented an HMP; however, there may be need for improvement. The FH team performs audits on site to assess adherence to the HMP and DFO communicates any need for improvement (deficiencies) to the facility. A total number of 30,788 HMP elements were scored between 2011 2019, of these 587 deficiencies were noted . During 670 of those facility visits, no deficiencies were observed.

Pie chart showing Fish Health Management Plan inspections at salmon aquaculture sites in BC, 2011-2019
Figure 16: Fish Health Management Plan inspections at salmon aquaculture sites in BC, 2011-2019
Long description
Fish Health Management Plan Inspections at Salmon Aquaculture Sites in BC, 2011-2019
Category of Deficiency Deficiencies observed
Carcass retrieval protocol or record keeping needs improvement 13
Current licence was not posted at facility 5
Disease contingency or mass mortality information or records needs improvement 6
Fish handling, euthanasia protocol or records 3
Footbaths or sanitizers needs improvement 7
Husbandry or record keeping as per COL Appendix VIII-A or VIII-B needs improvement 15
Lice protocol or lice records as per COL Appendix VII or VII-A needs improvement 22
Mooring signage needs improvement 12
Mortality assessment or classification needs improvement 1
Nutritional or medicated feed protocol concerns 1
Training documentation is not up-to-date 1
Transfer records are not complete or up-to-date 18
Visitor protocol communication needs improvement 0
Water quality monitoring, equipment or record keeping needs improvement 4
Wild fish mortality records need clarification 2

A total of 154 HMP site inspections were completed between 2011 2019 in the Discovery Islands area. All facilities are in compliance with the licence in that they have implemented an HMP; however, there may be need for improvement. The FH team performs audits on site to assess adherence to the HMP and DFO communicates any need for improvement (deficiencies) to the facility. A total number of 4903 HMP elements were scored between 2011 2019, of these 78 deficiencies were noted. During 100 of those facility visits, no deficiencies were observed.

Pie chart showing Fish Health Management Plan inspections at salmon aquaculture sites in the Discovery Islands, 2011-2019
Figure 17: Fish Health Management Plan inspections at salmon aquaculture sites in the Discovery Islands, 2011-2019
Long description
Fish Health Management Plan Inspections at Salmon Aquaculture Sites in the Discovery Islands, 2011-2019
Category of Deficiency Deficiencies observed
Carcass retrieval protocol or record keeping needs improvement 5
Current licence was not posted at facility 4
Disease contingency or Mass mortality information or records needs improvement 5
Fish handling, euthanasia protocol or records 3
Footbaths or sanitizers needs improvement 7
Husbandry or record keeping as per COL Appendix VIII-A or VIII-B needs improvement 2
Lice protocol or lice records as per COL Appendix VII or VII-A needs improvement 21
Mooring signage needs improvement 11
Mortality assessment or classification needs improvement 0
Nutritional or medicated feed protocol concerns 1
Training documentation is not up-to-date 1
Transfer records are not complete or up-to-date 15
Visitor protocol communication needs improvement 0
Water quality monitoring, equipment or record keeping needs improvement 1
Wild fish mortality records need clarification 2

The Health Management Plan (HMP) is a section of the licence which outlines broadly fish health management principles and practices which are necessary to ensure optimal fish health and welfare. The Licence Holders (LHs) are then required to develop and implement Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) which will dictate how the elements of the HMP are practically met by the LH on site. The LH may choose to meet a given condition of the HMP in any way they choose provided which is reasonable and biologically sound. The SOPs are submitted to DFO annually, along with any changes for review by fish health staff.

During a fish health audit, DFO biologists and veterinarians assess over 60 HMP elements using a standardized checklist. This is in addition to many other aspects of fish health and husbandry which are part of the licence conditions. Any deficiencies noted are recorded and relayed to site staff with an expectation for timely resolution. Past HMP deficiencies are noted during future audits of that facility to ensure they have been resolved. A letter is issued quarterly to each LH outlining the results of these HMP inspections. Any non-compliance with a licence condition identified during an audit will be recorded and relayed to DFO veterinary staff. DFO veterinarians will assess the risk posed by the non-compliance and determine if referral to Conservation and Protection branch for possible prosecution is warranted. At minimum, a letter of non-compliance will be issued with a timeline provided for resolving the non-compliance. These non-compliance letters are legally enforceable and inform the compliance history of the facility and LH. This has significant implications for third party sustainability certifications, and any request for production increases by the facility and/or LH.

Conclusion

The farms in the Discovery Islands are generally very well performing across almost every metric. The area appears to be very conducive to growing fish well, with minimal inputs and interventions as are seen in some other growing areas. The good fish health and sea lice management seen on the DI farms ensures that the risk of disease and pest transfer to wild fish is minimized.

Appendix I: Marine finfish aquaculture public reporting in British Columbia

  1. Aquaculture Activities Regulations (AAR) Drugs and Pesticides
  2. Monthly mortality by category, by facility (open data)
  3. Quarterly Average mortality by category, by zone (figure)
  4. Fish Health monitoring activities, number of carcasses sampled
  5. Fish health, sea lice and benthic audits (figures)
  6. Fish health events, by facility, 2016-ongoing (open data)
  7. Fish health events, 2016-ongoing (figures)
  8. Mortality events, by facility, 2011-ongoing (open data)
  9. Mortality events, 2016-ongoing (figures)
  10. Fish Health audits, by facility, 2011-ongoing (open data)
  11. Monthly sea lice abundance, by facility (open data)
  12. DFO sea lice audits, by facility (open data)
  13. Average sea lice abundance, by zone (graph)
  14. Use of Antibacterials (graph)
  15. Use of Anti-lice Therapeutants (graph)
  16. DFO benthic audits, by facility (open data)
  17. Industry benthic monitoring, by facility (open data)
  18. Benthic performance (graph)
  19. Incidental catch, by facility (open data)
  20. Marine mammal fatalities, by year (graph)
  21. Marine mammal interactions, by facility (open data)
  22. Escapes, by facility, 2011-ongoing (open data)
  23. Escapes, by year (graph)
  24. Atlantic Salmon Watch Program (open data)
  25. Salmon transfers, 2015-ongoing (open data)
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