Tofino algae bloom killed more than 200K farmed salmon, says company
A Cermaq Canada fish farm is pictured. (Cermaq)
VICTORIA -- A toxic algae bloom off the west coast of Vancouver Island killed more than 200,000 farmed salmon last month.
That's according to Cermaq Canada, the owner of the three Tofino-area salmon farms where the algae bloom wreaked havoc in the company's fish pens.
"I can confirm that we lost approximately 205,000 fish in total at three of our farms in the Tofino region," said Cermaq spokesperson Amy Jonsson in an email to CTV News Vancouver Island.
The company has partially blamed the growth in algae to warming ocean temperatures in the area.
The three affected farms are located at Binns Island, Bawden Point and Ross Pass.
Two forms of algae were reportedly involved in the harmful bloom and both are reportedly toxic to fish when they come in contact with their gills.
Cermaq says it employed measures to counter the effects of the bloom, including minimizing activity at the farms to reduce stress for the salmon, implementing a temporary pause on feeding the fish so that they would swim to lower depths to avoid the bloom, and running a pump system to dilute the algae.
The company says the same harmful algae was detected "at very low levels" at two additional Vancouver Island farms this week, in Dixon Bay and Millar Channel. However, fish stocks at these locations have not been seriously affected, Jonsson said.