VIDEO: ‘Blood water’ off the coast of Vancouver Island

VIDEO: ‘Blood water’ off the coast of Vancouver Island

Video shows bloody effluent emitting from farmed salmon processing plant

Billowing clouds of bloody water emitted from Vancouver Island salmon processing plants form the defining image of a video shot by Quadra Island photographer Tavish Campbell.

The video shows a fish packing plant just north of Campbell River dumping what is being called “blood water” into the ocean. It also shows the same type of effluent being discharged from Lions Gate Fisheries’ plant into Tofino harbour on the Island’s west coast.

“It’s a pretty horrific thing to see,” Campbell said, “Just these huge billowing clouds of red blood water being released right into Brown’s Bay.”

The video, entitled, Blood Water: B.C.’s Dirty Salmon Farming Secret was produced by Campbell and published on Vimeo.

Blood Water: B.C.’s Dirty Salmon Farming Secret from Tavish Campbell on Vimeo.

Campbell did two investigative dives at farmed salmon processing plants on Vancouver Island – one at Brown’s Bay and one at the Lions Gate Fisheries processing plant at Tofino. Lions Gate Fisheries processes Pacific Chinook raised by its subsidiary, Creative Salmon.

Campbell shot the footage during three dives in April and October at Brown’s Bay Packing and in June at Tofino.

The April dive was done during the out-migration period for juvenile sockeye salmon from the Fraser River and other streams in the Salish Sea. Because Discovery Passage experiences tremendous tidal currents squeezing between Vancouver Island and Quadra Island, Brown’s Bay serves as a refuge for the migrating juvenile fish, Campbell said.

“Brown’s Bay acts as a bit of a holding pen for these small, little juvenile fish so that day – that very day we did the dive – when I got up from the dive you could see tons of these juvenile fish packed into the head of Brown’s Bay,” Campbell said. “It’s situated in such an unfortunate spot in terms of being right where these juvenile fish have to swim by.”

Campbell’s video shows a bright-red cloud being emitted from a pipe outlet connected to the plants. Campbell had the effluent tested and found evidence of Piscine Reovirus (PRV) which causes the disease HSMI, which damages the heart and skeletal muscles of salmon. The samples he collected were sent to the Atlantic Veterinary College in Charlottetown, P.E.I. The testing was done by Prof. Fred Kibenge.

Campbell said the point of his video is not to demonize Brown’s Bay Packing or Lions Gate Fisheries. They are not doing anything illegal. The focus is on Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) and their “inability to manage and regulate or protect wild fish,” Campbell said.

B.C. Environment Minister George Heyman is also aware of the video.

“We’re going to ensure, as we review the permit and put conditions on the permit if necessary, that any discharge into the water is safe from contamination,” he said.

“We’re hoping that can happen in the next few days. We’re also waiting for test results of the effluent that was taken some time ago, and if necessary we’ll conduct our own tests.”

The plants in the video originally began as processing plants for wild fish but now handle farmed salmon as well. The PRV has been found in west coast salmon and is linked to HSMI, a potentially fatal disease for salmon.

To Campbell, the situation is another reason for a lack of confidence in DFO’s ability to regulate salmon farming on the West Coast and mitigate its impact on wild salmon stocks.

“Our wild salmon aren’t being looked after,” Campbell said.

And the clock is ticking on the situation in Brown’s Bay, he said.

“In a few short months the next wave of out-migrating juvenile fish is going to be coming up from the Salish Sea and from the Fraser (River) and having to pass right by the plant. It is something that we have to act on quickly.”

Lions Gate Fisheries issued a press release about the video today on its website, saying:

“Lions Gate Fisheries, like all processing Pacific salmon – farmed or wild – on B.C. ‘s coast, operates its Tofino plant under permit from the provincial government.

“Effluent from the plant is screened and discharged into the marine environment at depth according to the provincial government permit.

“Lions Gate Fisheries processes Pacific chinook raised by Creative Salmon. Both the plant and Creative Salmon are certified to the Canadian Organic Aquaculture Standard. This is an audited, national standard that exceeds municipal, provincial and federal regulatory requirements.”

Brown’s Bay Packing released a similar statement on Tuesday afternoon saying they disinfect the effluent before it is released into the ocean.

“While the liquid discharged remains red in colour, the treatment process is designed specifically to treat for fish pathogens,” it reads.

“The treatment of that effluent is to a level higher than Provincial standards for fish plants, and is governed by a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed by all companies farming and processing Atlantic salmon. The MoU explicitly states that all plants will have a functional disinfection system in place, all water/ice, blood-water, wash-water and other wastewater within the processing plant will be collected and treated through the processing plant central treatment system, all blood-water and wastewater used during off loading and transport from the boat to processing plant will be contained and treated.”

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

(Corrado Colombo photo)
Corrado Colombo, with his wife, Lucy. Colombo is from Italy, but met Kitimat born-and-raised Lucy on one of his annual fishing trips to Kitimat in the early 2000s.
In Our Valley: Corrado Colombo

Corrado Colombo never expected that an annual fishing trip to Kitimat would change his life

Skeena MLA Ellis Ross at his swearing in on Thursday (Nov. 26), with his wife, Tracey, left, mother, Frieda, and grandson, Parker. (Ellis Ross photo)
Ellis Ross sworn in as Skeena MLA

Ceremonies happening virtually rather than all in-person in Victoria

CityWest internet and other services are down in Kitimat as of Wednesday (Nov. 25) evening. (Black Press file photo)
UPDATE: Services down for CityWest users in Kitimat

Services were put out due to a landslide cutting a fibre line

The Terrace River Kings lost 3-9 to the Quesnel Kangaroos on Mar. 2, 2019 in the final CIHL playoffs. (Lindsay Chung Photo)
Central Interior Hockey League cancels 2020/21 season

League open to playing exhibition games if possible

Mary Cox and Jack Plant dance in their pyjamas and slippers at the morning pyjama dance during the Rhythm Reelers’ 25 Annual Rally in the Valley Square Dance Festival in Chilliwack on June 4, 2011. Sunday, Nov. 29, 2020 is Square Dancing Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of Nov. 29 to Dec. 5

Square Dancing Day, Disability Day and International Ninja Day are all coming up this week

Black Press Media and BraveFace have come together to support children facing life-threatening conditions. Net proceeds from these washable, reusable, three-layer masks go to Make-A-Wish Foundation BC & Yukon.
Put on a BraveFace: Help make children’s wishes come true

Black Press Media, BraveFace host mask fundraiser for Make-A-Wish Foundation

114 Canadians were appointed Nov. 27 to the Order of Canada. (Governor General of Canada photo)
Indigenous actor, author, elder, leaders appointed to Order of Canada

Outstanding achievement, community dedication and service recognized

More than 60 cm of snow has fallen at Ulkatcho First Nation near Anahim Lake in the Chilcotin since a snowfall warning went into effect Thursday, Nov. 26. (Graham West photo)
VIDEO: More than 60 cm of snowfall in Chilcotin since Thursday, Nov. 26

Graham West of Ulkatcho First Nation captures the scene on video

Screenshot of Pastor James Butler giving a sermon at Free Grace Baptist Church in Chilliwack on Nov. 22, 2020. The church has decided to continue in-person services despite a public health order banning worship services that was issued on Nov. 19, 2020. (YouTube)
2 Lower Mainland churches continue in-person services despite public health orders

Pastors say faith groups are unfairly targeted and that charter rights protect their decisions

A big job: Former forests minister Doug Donaldson stands before a 500-year-old Douglas fir in Saanich to announce preservation of some of B.C.’s oldest trees, July 2019. (B.C. government)
B.C. returning to ‘stand-alone’ forests, rural development ministry

Horgan says Gordon Campbell’s super-ministry doesn’t work

Peter Wilson, left, and Micah Rankin, right, formed the Special Prosecutor team that was tasked with reviewing and litigating charges stemming from the Bountiful investigation. Trevor Crawley photo.
End of Bountiful prosecution wraps up decades of legal battles

Constitutional questions had to be settled before a polygamy prosecution could move forward

Alexandre Bissonnette, who pleaded guilty to a mass shooting at a Quebec City mosque, arrives at the courthouse in Quebec City on February 21, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Mathieu Belanger - POOL
Court strikes down consecutive life sentences; mosque shooter has prison term cut

The decision was appealed by both the defence and the Crown

Gold medallists in the ice dance, free dance figure skating Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir, of Canada, pose during their medals ceremony at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, Tuesday, Feb. 20, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Charlie Riedel
Olympic champions Virtue, Moir and Tewksbury among 114 Order of Canada inductees

Moir and Virtue catapulted to national stardom with their gold-medal performances at the Winter Olympics in 2018

Most Read