Thursday, January 8, 2009

The Value of BC Farmed Salmon

Back in December, a publication called The Straight Goods ran a story about the wild salmon population in British Columbia. Yesterday, the publication ran Mary Ellen Walling's response to the piece:
As Stephen Leahy considers "the real price of farmed salmon" (December 15) he raises some important points about the need to protect wild fish.

Mr Leahy takes issue with salmon farming but for those concerned about the protection of wild fish and the environment a few more facts about aquaculture are in order.

Today, around the world, consumption of fish is on the rise. This is a good thing as fish is a healthy and nutritious component of a good diet. However, the roughly 85 million tons a year of commercially caught fish has brought many species to the point of collapse and is no longer sufficient to meet growing global demand. For many, the best way to meet increasing demand without putting undue pressure on wild stocks to eat sustainably farmed fish, such as those raised in British Columbia, Canada.

Farmers recognize the marine environment is their most valuable asset and must meet stringent regulatory requirements for the siting and operating of ocean farms. Farm stocks are carefully monitored to ensure both fish health and protection of the environment. In combination with fallowing, underwater inspections help to make sure the marine environment under the farms is in good condition. Mr Leahy describes himself as an environmental "journalist" but sadly there is little evidence of the basic tenets of journalism — accuracy and balance — in this piece.

For example, while it is true that some First Nations do not support salmon farming, others do. This year Marine Harvest celebrated the 10th anniversary of its partnership with the Kitasoo First Nations in Klemtu. As a result of salmon farming this remote First Nation community has seen unemployment levels drop dramatically and many young people now have both jobs and opportunities within their traditional territory. The 6000 men and women who work in British Columbia's sustainable aquaculture sector take great pride in raising a healthy, nutritious fish that is in demand around the world. And as residents of the coast they are some of the strongest, most knowledgeable, stewards of the environment. That's how we measure the real value of farmed salmon.

Mary Ellen Walling
Executive Director,
BC Salmon Farmers Association
Campbell River, BC

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