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Chum salmon from Japan not part of Canadian fishery

Chum salmon coming in from Japan will travel within 400 miles of B.C.
Chum salmon coming in from Japan will travel within 400 miles of B.C.'s west coast, twice the distance commercial fisheries are allowed to go.
— image credit: Fisheries and Oceans Canada graphic

Wild Pacific salmon coming in from radiation-affected areas of Japan should not impact local commercial fisheries, according to the Canadian Department of Fisheries and Oceans.

“Most of the commercial salmon fisheries take place in … waters along the coast,” said communications advisor Lara Sloan. She said Canadian fisheries are restricted by the internationally-enforced Exclusive Economic Zone, a 200 mile limit to how far local fishers can find their catch.

Findings from Vancouver-based researcher North Pacific Anadromous Fish Commission concur with the results. Based on nearly 50 years of salmon migratory research, the commission concludes that while Japanese Chum salmon travel within 400 miles of the B.C. coast, that is still twice the distance local fisheries are allowed to go.

“This was something established in the 70s,” said Dr. Nancy Davis. “There is no legal fishing for salmon in international waters.”

She said despite the restriction zone, most fisheries commonly focus in the river mouths where the salmon are spawned, further reducing any risk of contamination.

Minute amounts of radiation have been detected along the B.C. coast since late March. According to Health Canada, the increase is less than naturally occurring levels of radiation in the rain, but has been found to accumulate in seaweed by SFU researcher Kris Starosta—Health Canada isn’t taking any chances.

“As a precautionary measure, Health Canada deployed … nine monitoring stations on Canada’s west coast,” said Gary Holub, spokesperson for Health Canada. The monitoring stations will cost the federal government $136,000 to operate annually, and adds to the existing six atmospheric monitoring stations already installed in B.C.

As of April 1, all food and animal feed products from Japan will be rejected unless accompanied by documentation verifying the products' safety.

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