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Letter to the editor: Responding to Kervin’s Corner

“With a bit of luck, it won’t be too late to save our wild, indigenous Pacific salmon”

Dear editor,

Re: Kervin’s Corner in the March 21 edition of the North Island Gazette

Firstly, I suggest you talk to First Nations communities involved in the battle to close down open-net fish farming in B.C. before accusing them (and Ms. Morton) of being involved in “a form of environmental colonialism”. Every world citizen who is concerned about the proliferation of sea lice, the rampant disease found in farmed Atlantic salmon and the antibiotics used to treat them adding to our oceans’ questionable health “lend(s) some legitimacy to anti-fish farm campaigns”.

In fact anti-fish farm campaigns is not correct. Anti open-net fish farming is the issue. You fail to make that distinction. I believe the only objection to closed containment fish farming would come from Marine Harvest, Cermaq et al as it would cut into profits. But as you pointed out, it is a nearly billion-dollar business so perhaps they can afford it.

The more forward-thinking and very successful Norwegian company Atlantic Sapphire is currently constructing a 380,000-square-foot facility in Florida (where it will incur the additional cost of cooling the water) to hatch, grow and process Atlantic farmed salmon. And that’s only the first of three phases. Unlike net-pen farming, this method is environmentally responsible and sustainable. Also, unlike net-pen farming, hatching, growing and processing at the same location will cut way down on the carbon footprint caused by transportation from hatchery to farm to processing plant.

Closed containment will also address the issue of jobs.

You state “9 out of 10 provinces have a First Nations community who’s invested in fish farming”. How many of those provinces are adjacent to an ocean? It’s much easier to be aware of the damage caused by open-net fish farming when you live close to them.

I assume you touted your bachelor of arts degree from Simon Fraser University to add some context to your claim that “Morton is no scientist either”. All the more reason for “researchers, scientists or anyone in academia educated in marine biology” to jump at the chance for a public debate.

The “10,000 jobs”, the “11,414 people” sounds pretty impressive. Does the “14,000 jobs” in the aquaculture industry include the aforementioned 10,000 jobs? I have not heard of anyone campaigning against the aquaculture industry as a whole.

Also, many of these jobs sound like jobs that used to revolve around our formerly thriving fishing industry. While open-net fish farming isn’t the only industry culpable in messing with wild stocks, it seems prudent to keep the sea water along wild salmon migration routes as free of lice, pathogens and antibiotics as possible. If we want to stay for the long haul, nature trumps. Especially on British Columbia’s coast where we have more than 100 fish farms mostly situated alongside wild salmon migration routes.

Regarding the CHEK News poll, I’m guessing many of those who responded aren’t educated in open-net salmon farming. Hopefully, the anti open-net fish farm movement here, on the east coast, in Washington State, Scotland et cetera will help shed some light on the negative environmental impact of open-net fish farms as well as the inferior fish they produce.

Your failure to distinguish between aquaculture, fish farming and open-net fish farming does not help pave the way to the “more open minded” debate you suggest. As an alternative, I suggest leaving jobs and corporate profits out of the discussion, freezing fish farm leases and agreeing on a time frame for moving to closed containment. The jobs and profit will ultimately survive – sustainably.

And, with a bit of luck, it won’t be too late to save our wild, indigenous Pacific salmon from the “environmental colonialism” of the Atlantic interlopers.

Fred Middleton


* The views and opinions expressed in this letter to the editor are those of the author and do not reflect the views of Black Press or the North Island Gazette. If you have a different view, we encourage you to write to us to contribute to the disccusion.