Stopping the great escapes: Aquaculture firm calls off search for 29,616 rogue Atlantic salmon that may put B.C.’s wild stocks at risk of a dwindling food supply

Saturday, July 5, 2008

ANNA MEHLER PAPERNY

VANCOUVER — A continent away from their native waters, disoriented and out of captivity for the first time in their lives, 30,000-odd Atlantic salmon are roaming free off the British Columbia coast.

Their mass exodus from a pen at Marine Harvest Canada’s Frederick Arm site on July 1 is B.C.’s largest farmed-salmon escape in eight years. It has spawned a government investigation, with Environment Ministry conservation officers combing the site to find out exactly what went wrong.

The company stopped trying to recapture the escaped fish yesterday afternoon, leaving 29,616 fish missing.

“They’re out, they’re free, they’ll be mingling,” said Raincoast Research biologist Alexandra Morton. And it doesn’t bode well for wild Pacific salmon.

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