Marine mammal fatalities at marine finfish aquaculture facilities in BC, 1990-2018

This graph shows the number and species of marine mammals that have died at BC aquaculture sites.

Interactions that result in the death of a marine mammal have reduced dramatically over the past two decades due to improved anti-predator netting and anchoring, the prompt removal of attractants and stricter rules regarding the use of force. However, marine mammals still occasionally become entangled in netting or other farm infrastructure and drown.

Under the Pacific Aquaculture Regulations and consistent with Marine Mammal Regulations, Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) authorizes fish farms in BC to undertake predator control of California sea lions or harbour seals that pose an imminent danger to the aquaculture facility or human life, after reasonable non-lethal deterrent efforts fail.

Humpback whales have recently become more numerous in BC’s coastal waters. Since they do not use echolocation for navigation, they are the species of whale most likely to become entangled in fishing gear or lines. Farm operators must contact DFO immediately upon discovery of an entangled whale so the Department can attempt to safely release the animal. The use of force on whales or other cetaceans is not permitted. More detailed reports that include whale entanglements that result in live release are also available.

A working group comprising members of DFO and industry regularly reviews aquaculture practices, including marine mammal interactions, to improve all aspects of sustainability and to increase compliance.

Graph: Marine mammal fatalities at marine finfish aquaculture facilities in BC
Table version

Marine mammal fatalities at marine finfish aquaculture facilities in BC, 1990-2017

Year Harbour seal California sea lion Steller sea lion Unidentified pinniped Humpback whale Harbour porpoise
1990 211 0 0 0 0 0
1991 393 2 10 0 0 0
1992 375 2 10 0 0 0
1993 432 10 7 0 0 0
1994 524 19 12 0 0 0
1995 594 24 6 0 0 0
1996 502 57 27 0 0 0
1997 529 56 38 0 0 0
1998 370 84 60 0 0 0
1999 487 143 103 0 0 0
2000 428 226 48 0 0 0
2001 292 91 29 0 0 0
2002 120 20 17 0 0 0
2003 48 14 3 0 0 0
2004 114 6 0 0 0 0
2005 127 11 0 0 0 0
2006 120 55 1 0 0 0
2007 92 128 1 18 0 4
2008 48 5 3 0 0 1
2009 131 24 1 0 0 0
2010 46 163 0 0 0 0
2011 73 232 2 0 0 0
2012 19 10 0 1 0 0
2013 3 5 0 0 1 0
2014 10 4 0 0 0 0
2015 17 18 0 0 0 0
2016 1 5 0 0 2 0
2017 2 0 0 0 0 0
2018 1 2 0 0 0 0