An underwater exposé in British Columbia, Canada, has revealed that improper salmon farming techniques are releasing huge clouds of "bloodwater" into Clayoquot Sound and Discovery Passage.
Tavish Campbell, an amateur diver and filmmaker, discovered that the Atlantic salmon processing plant near his home was piping waste water filled with blood and fish gore directly back into the ecosystem.
On several dives in April, June and October this year, he and his friends discovered that Brown’s Bay Packing Company's effluent pipes were dumping potentially contaminated waste into the natural habitat of the salmon.
Effluent, or waste water, is usually water that farm-raised fish have been kept in. It's pumped back into the water to be circulated back through the water cycle, but it's not supposed to contain clouds of bright red blood and fish scales.
Campbell sent a sample of the blood to Atlantic Veterinary College in Prince Edward Island. Scientists discovered that it was infected with Piscine Reovirus, a blood borne virus that can devastate a salmon population — sometimes reducing it by as much as 20 percent. CTV News reports the virus can spawn “potentially dangerous” effects for marine life.
“This current is going to disperse this stuff all over,” Campbell told CTV News. “It is insanity dumping this effluent right into the salmon migration corridor.”
There are many more efficient ways to dispose of waste like this. Campbell points out in his short documentary video that Norway holds companies to high standards when it comes to disinfecting fish farm waste because of the research linking it to disease outbreaks. Other places even turn the waste into fertilizer.
In October, the British Columbia government announced that it's going to review the science and practices surrounding fish farming, to see where improvements can be made.