Salmon Farming and Environmentalism

Brian James hillbily at intergate.ca
Sat Jun 2 20:43:58 MDT 2001


I forwarded the article posted here on the WWF study blaming salmon
farming for the decline of wild Atlantic Salmon stocks (Atlantic salmon
face end of the line) to a relative of mine who happens to know quite a
lot about aquaculture (being a marine biologist working for an East
Coast Provincial Fisheries Dept.), and got this interesting reply.

Quote:

This statement is the kicker, and we have heard it time and time
again...."Among the biggest dangers to the wild salmon is the dominance
of salmon farming,...

In truth the headlines should read "human activity threatens salmon
...." Salmon farming is one of very many sources that impact coastal
waters and rivers alike. Those who quote the coincidence of proximity of
salmon farms to depleted rivers seem not to notice the
hundreds/thousands of rivers which also have depleted salmon stocks but
no salmon farms...as usual it is irresponsible, bad science and bad
journalism and probably fueled by alterior motives.  no doubt salmon
farming has an impact on coastal environment, and that impact must be
monitored and regulated and managed...however, these impacts are
generally localised and perhaps therefore more easily oberved and guilt
assumed... ON the west coast of europe, salmon aquaculture has been
blamed for causing increased organic loading that leads to toxic algae
blooms, but if you look at the biomass, the actual amount of organic
waste introduced by fish farming, and compare this with the organic
waste coming down river from the massive human populations and
agriculture areas, it becomes more clear where the actuall blame should
lie. Fish farming becomes a mere 'drop in the bucket' regarding organic
loading...I could go on and on...


This past winter, I can not recall if we discussed it or not, the Suzuki
foundation was involved (along with others...) in publicising a report
they had put together that stated the wild conclusion that farmed salmon
are unhealthy to eat due to high levels of toxins in the flesh, which
they felt was likely because the feed is made largely of fish meal that
originates in gulf of mexico and other 'polluted' waters....it was/ is
an outrage and easily shot to peices if anyone where willing to listen.
this had created a huge seafood scare in Britain (on the heals of mad
cow...). BBC and other UK media outlets had jumped on the story and
distributed it far and wide before anyone did a double check and
realised the report was completely full of shit...meanwhile, months
later, after UK became comfortable that the report was false and that
salmon is safe, the CBC reported the same study via " the Nature of
things", ie Suzuki's soap box....

the problems with that report were numerous but summarise as follows>

original study by a researcher in Scotland (unpublished) used 4-5 farmed
salmon and a couple of wild salmon (or something like that). Flesh study
showed that a couple farmed salmon had toxin levels higher than the wild
salmon, one farmed salmon had same levels and one had lower levels.
Suzuki foundation took this report and used it to make their fantastic
claims...its amazing how fraud can be perpetrated by such organisations
on such a large scale with no legal repercussions. As you can imagine
the flaws were many, the original study used only a miniscule sample
size from one study site , within the small study group, it was hardly
conclusive that farmed fish bore more toxins, the levels of toxins that
were recorded in the farmed and wild salmon alike fell well within the
daily limits recommended by Health Canada and other international food
safety regulators,(and are comparable to levels found in many foods that
we consume with out fear) and the suzuki report was not 'peer reviewed'
but given straight to the media who jumped on it only to realise (in
Britain at least) that they jumped on a pile of dogshit...its bizarre
how the CBC simply aired the same crap after it was shot down in the UK!

The damage that is caused by such bullshit comes back to us frequently
when we receive letters and petitions of protest from people who do not
want fish farms in their neighborhoods because they are afraid of :
public health concerns, envirnmental degradation, collapse of local fish
stocks...we have several letters actually referring to suzukis' report
and stating...how dare we put this abomination in their area....its
really bizzare. I even had an old lady call me to say she was afraid to
eat the salmon she had in her fridge...

The whole thing has given me a completely cynical attitude toward the
environmental movement. If they are lying and cheating about this issue
on which I am knowledgeable, what are they doing in other areas about
which I know little...this makes me uncomfortable since someone has got
to be a watch dog, but what do you do when you can not trust the watchdog....?



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