Spill of Atlantic salmon an "environmental disaster"
A massive spill of Atlantic Salmon into the waters of the Pacific Ocean is being called an environmental disaster by a marine biologist.
According to a Fish and Wildlife spokesman the salmon escaped from a net holding more than 300-thousand fish at a Cooke Aquaculture fish farm near Cypress Island -- east of Victoria -- because of unusually high tides pushed by Monday's approaching total solar eclipse.
Marine Biologist Alexandra Morton says it's a serious situation:
" I don't know why the industry doesn't factor in the tides, and they seem incapable of really grappling with the full strength of the natural environment. And this is an environmental disaster to be releasing this many Atlantic salmon into the Pacific."
Morton says Atlantic salmon are an invasive species which have the potential to harm native fish stocks through predation, competition for food, and passing on disease:
"But the bigger threat in my point of view is the disease threat because in British Columbia over 80% of the Atlantic salmon are infected with a blood virus called piscine reovirus. Are these fish infected with that? What do they have?"
Morton adds the planned recovery method of using seine boats to catch the escaped fish is problematic because the spill is in the pathway of fragile Pacific sockeye stocks now returning to the Fraser River.