Atlantic salmon, The LCBO and Banrock Station Wines
The marine environment of the Great Lakes is home to an array of fish wildlife that is on the verge of collapse. Below is an environmental issue we hope you will care about.
The Ontario Liquor Control Board (LCBO) and Banrock Station Wines (an Australian wine company), in partnership with the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters, are pumping millions of dollars into the stocking of non-native Atlantic Salmon into Lake Ontario to enhance the sport fishery – a project that could further damage the ecology of Lake Ontario.
And the money is coming from unsuspecting customers like you.
Your Dollars Can Stop It Now
There are two ways customers can divert their money from this project. The LCBO is funding it through the sales of their canvas "Enviro Bags", and Banrock Station Wines, an Australian wine company, through the sale of their wines.
If you want to purchase a canvas bag to avoid the use of plastic or paper, please buy it from your favourite environmental group who need your support more than the LCBO. Then purchase from the huge selection of other wineries, and leave Banrock Station Wineson the shelf!
The Great Lakes are a “one-of-a-kind” natural wonder, and millions of people and countless wildlife species depend on these lakes for subsistence. Yet in just a matter of a few decades, we have managed to turn the whole ecological system up-side-down and backwards, in part, because of the sport fishing industry.
To keep anglers happy, government fish and wildlife agencies stock non-native fish, such as salmon, for the sole purpose of maintaining and bolstering an over-exploited recreational fisheries program – making a mockery of the term ‘sustainable use”.
Lake Ontario was once home to a distinct strain of Atlantic salmon that has been extinct since the late 1800s. This strain of salmon was unique because it was geographically and reproductively isolated from its ocean cousins, and never swam to sea.
Since the 1940s both Ontario and US fish and wildlife agencies have been stocking non-native Atlantic salmon to replace the now extinct Lake Ontario Atlantic salmon, but these programs have failed.
Corporate and sport fishing interests are now spearheading the campaign. In the last 15 months, almost one million fish have been dumped into Lake Ontario using different genetic variations hoping one strain will reproduce or produce a completely new strain altogether.
Introduced aquatic species can out-compete native species for food and habitat, upsetting the natural food web. In Lake Ontario, Lake Trout, Brook Trout and American Eel, all are native fish, and all are in severe decline.
Why Care About This Issue?
Because private and corporate interests are manipulating what is ultimately a public resource – wildlife and the environment – for their own benefit.
In 2006, the McGuinty government began privatizing provincial hatcheries. The Ringwood Fish Hatchery north of Toronto was leased to the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters (OFAH), who in turn brought in large corporate sponsors – the LCBO and Banrock Station Wines. With a large hatchery under their control OFAH can run their own program.
With little government oversight, this private consortium is turning the Great Lakes into their own private playground with little regard to potential ecological dangers.
A True Restoration Effort
Research efforts are currently underway to unlock the genetic history of the once mighty Lake Ontario Atlantic salmon. One such project is being lead by researchers at the Royal Ontario Museum.
Through DNA research, scientists hope to find a suitable match to the extinct Lake Ontario salmon or discover its descendants somewhere else in the world. Their findings will hopefully lead to a true restoration project and restore the natural food web of Lake Ontario.
Atlantic salmon has a complex and sophisticated evolutionary history, and genetic diversity is evident even between salmon of neighbouring rivers and tributaries. This information will play an important role in salmon conservation, so we can’t be cavalier about mixing and matching populations to environments in which they did not evolve.
You can stop the flow of money to this program by buying wines from other sources and bringing your own shopping bag to the LCBO.
adult atlantic salmon
Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC)
Assessment and Status Report on the Atlantic Salmon (Salmo salar) Lake Ontario Population
On Nature Magazine, Winter 2007/2008
“Resurrecting an extinct species in Lake Ontario”
Catch and Release Kills Fish