Monday, December 29, 2008

Taking Issue with Mark Hume on BC Salmon Farming

An article/column by Mark Hume, printed in the December 26, 2008 edition of the Globe and Mail, lays the blame for declining wild salmon stocks on salmon farming. Unfortunately, he fails to look at this critical issue in the context of all factors that affect wild salmon populations and have resulted in declines along the entire west coast of North America. Our wild salmon and their protection deserve a more thorough assessment of all factors that influence wild salmon populations – anything less is a disservice to wild salmon and to Mr. Hume’s readers.

Here’s how we responded to Mr. Hume. In a letter to the editor of the Globe and Mail, Mary Ellen Walling, BCSFA Executive Director, writes the following:

Mark Hume flags an important issue for BC: the protection of wild salmon. It is unfortunate that his passion is not matched by a willingness to look a little deeper at the causes of the current problem.

The easy thing is to blame salmon farming for wild fish declines. But the reality is much more complex. All up and down the coast, from Alaska to California, in areas with farms and in many areas without farms, salmon populations are in decline. The causes appear to include increased salinity, changes in water temperature, loss of habitat, urbanization and a host of other factors.

As Mr Hume correctly notes, salmon farmers can mitigate the impacts of farming to ensure we raise a healthy nutritious and sustainable product. A lot more work on the part of the larger population will be required if we are to move beyond rhetoric and take a hard look at making changes to address the larger environmental issues. To read Mr. Hume’s Globe and Mail article/column click here.

A February 2008 report from the BC Pacific Salmon Forum “Broughton Archipelago: A State of Knowledge” reviews all impacts of human development and industry during the past 50 years in this ecosystem. To read this report click here (Note: file size is >20 MB). Not all scientists agree with Mr. Hume. To read a commentary from the December 2008 issue of Science magazine click here.

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