Campbell River, BC (BCFSA) — Sometimes complex issues get further confused when only partial information is shared and the full picture is left unclear. Such is the case with Mr. Baker’s story about BC’s salmon farming industry.
The story takes quotations out of press releases from both the BC Salmon Farmers Association and the Department of Fisheries and Oceans which focus on economic news pertaining to the industry, and pits them against comments from critics about environmental and regulatory issues. It leaves the impression that those questions remain, when in fact, there are answers to their concerns—the industry just wasn’t given the opportunity to share them.
Mr. Baker states that sea lice impact wild salmon stocks. While that is a rallying cry by opponents, the science doesn’t support such a statement. Research has shown that wild Pacific salmon have developed a resistance to sea lice once they reach a certain size and that there seems to be no difference in the number of sea lice on wild fish in areas near fish farms and areas far away from them.
The federal fisheries department has been monitoring the Pink salmon returns in the Broughton Archipelago for over 50 years. Some of the largest returns have occurred since salmon farms were sited in the area. Some of the smallest returns happened before farms ever developed. It questions the assertion that salmon farms are affecting the wild population negatively. That information is all available online at DFO’s website.
As for the Ministry of Agriculture and T. Buck Suzuki Freedom of Information issue, it is not reasonable to say sea lice numbers are ‘concealed.’ The information is well available. The two largest salmon farming companies in BC, Marine Harvest Canada and Mainstream Canada, both list site-by-site sea lice numbers on their websites. The provincial information under the FOI order is only a sampling of numbers, collected to audit the comprehensive fish health database maintained by industry. The results of that audit is made public every year in the annual fish health report.
We recognize that the protection of wild salmon is a passionate issue for everyone in the province. Salmon farmers live and work in Coastal British Columbia too and are dedicated to the maintaining a socially, economically and environmentally-sustainable industry.
For people out there who would like to learn more, please visit our website www.salmonfarmers.org, or send us a question directly. We also offer weekly public farm tours from June to September—so come on out and see first-hand what BC’s salmon farms are like.