Fear of fish dominates new campaign against anti-salmon farms


“Our salmon production is totally dependent on a healthy ocean environment and we constantly monitor the waters we work in… not in an office in downtown Vancouver, creating scare-mongering so activists can earn a salary. “

By Fabian Dawson

Fearing science is stifling their fear, BC anti-salmon activists are launching a new campaign to decimate the province’s aquaculture industry, a world leader in the sustainable production of seafood.

Using a litany of false claims, the group joined with the Wilderness Tourism Association of BC (WTABC) in claiming that the lack of definitive action to end open-net fish farms puts the long-term economic viability of the fish at risk. billion dollars from the province. the tourism industry in danger.

The science deficit campaign literature, mainly funded by big urban capital, provides no factual evidence to support its claims.

It also fails to address the fact that there is no credible scientific evidence to link the decline in population-level Pacific salmon stocks to salmon farming on the coasts of Colombia. British.

“This is another campaign by activists to create and perpetuate a climate of skepticism and public opposition to our sustainable salmon farming operations,” said an industry official.

“Our production is totally dependent on a healthy ocean environment and we are at sea constantly monitoring the waters we work in… not in an office in downtown Vancouver creating scare-mongering so activists can get a paycheck.” , did he declare.

“They don’t know what they’re talking about.

Tellingly, the new campaign, developed by a Vancouver-based marketing firm and funded by a Victoria-based foundation that has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars in grants and contributions overseas, has no one listed with experience. or scientific knowledge in salmon farming.

The launch of the so-called “Belly-Up” campaign coincides with a judicial review of a decision by former Fisheries Minister Bernadette Jordan to withdraw salmon farms from the Discovery Islands region by next July.

Jordan, bowing to the demands of the anti-salmon lobby group, ignored his own scientists, who found that the farms on Discovery Island posed only a minimal threat to wild stocks, and pushed back his sub -minister, Timothy Sargent, who recommended a more coordinated approach. approach for the decommissioning of salmon farms in the region.

In its entirety, Jordan’s unexpected move to Discovery Islands will see British Columbia lose nearly $ 390 million in annual economic output with $ 87 million less in annual wages and benefits, and 1,535 fewer jobs, mainly in coastal communities in British Columbia.

The fish farmers have sought judicial review of the former minister’s decision after being unable to obtain clarification on a series of follow-up policy changes ordered by Jordan. The review is expected to begin this week.

“The only evidence I have is that salmon farming in British Columbia poses minimal risk to wild salmon today,” Federal Court Judge Panagiotis Pamel said in April. , when it granted an injunction to allow affected BC salmon farmers to continue to stock their pens in the Discovery Islands.

Prior to the Discovery Islands decision, nine scientific studies peer-reviewed by the Canadian Science Advisory Secretariat (CSAS) also reached the same conclusion.

Jordan herself said her decision had little to do with science and had more to do with the social license of salmon farmers.

Another inference from the new campaign blames marine aquaculture operations in British Columbia on the apparent decline in stocks of chinook salmon, which are prey to killer whales in the Salish Sea.

But that theory, like many other advances by activists, has been debunked by a new study by scientists at the University of British Columbia, published last week.

In an article published in the Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences, researchers report that the number of chinook salmon in the Salish Sea in summer is four to six times more abundant for Southern Resident Killer Whales than for Northern Resident Killer Whales.

The new campaign urges politicians in Ottawa and British Columbia to do away with all net fish farms and replace them with fish farms in terrestrial reservoirs at a time when countries around the world from America to the Australia, from Ireland to India to China, all have plans to increase their marine aquaculture production.

A government study has shown that the transition of all open net fish farms in British Columbia to land-based salmon farms requires the use of large amounts of land, water and electricity, and therefore has an environmental footprint. significant, especially greenhouse gas emissions.

Currently, oceanic salmon farms in British Columbia emit only 2.2 kilograms of carbon dioxide for every kilogram of edible fish produced. That’s less than half of any animal raised on earth, including 5.1 kilograms of CO2 per kilogram of chicken, 6.4 kilograms of pork and 37.2 kilograms of beef.

If British Columbia gives in to demands from anti-fish campaigners to move all ocean-going salmon farms to land-based operations, the province will experience a whopping 22,881,000 kilograms of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions increases, according to an independent study by RIAS Inc..

Translated, this number equals the energy per year required to power a population of 52,200, or a city the size of North Vancouver.

Land-based salmon farming is also 12 times more expensive than ocean farming, studies show.

Salmon farmers in British Columbia are developing new land-based systems that will allow them to grow juvenile farmed salmon to larger and more robust sizes before transferring them to grow-out systems at sea. This will significantly reduce the time salmon spend in the ocean, effectively reducing production and potential interactions with wild salmon stocks.

Farmed Atlantic salmon is British Columbia’s leading seafood export with a total economic output of $ 1.6 billion. The industry currently supports nearly 6,500 full-time jobs that pay 30% more than the median income in British Columbia.

But any science or report that contradicts their claims is dismissed without proof by activists, as being bought and paid for.

As a result, veteran British Columbia judges called some of the anti-salmon culture activists, including those linked to the new campaign launched today, “fanatical” and “irrational” using ” untested hearsay evidence, containing the appearance of factual evidence.

One of British Columbia’s leading activists even wrote to the Department of Fisheries and Oceans to admit that she and others do not know “what is driving the extinction” of declining salmon returns. wild, documented for generations by scientists and First Nations. and long before the arrival of marine salmon aquaculture in British Columbia.

(Image courtesy of the BC Salmon Farmers Association shows two Vancouver-area chefs visiting a salmon farm to obtain the facts about salmon farming in British Columbia )


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