Salmon farmers take issue with letter

Dear Editor,

Re: “David seizes sling against fish farms,” Mary Russell, April 28, 2011

BC’s salmon farmers take our responsibility to the ocean we farm in and communities we operate in very seriously. Part of that responsibility requires correcting misinformation such as that put forward by Mary Russell in her latest letter to the North Island Gazette.

Concerns about the possible impacts of escaped farm salmon on the natural environment has been studied and followed for many years: and have shown that, in the extremely unfortunate incidents of escapes, farmed salmon are both poor competition with no wild foraging skills but are also unsuccessful at colonizing and unable to interbreed with wild Pacific salmon. That said, farmers never want to lose any of their livestock – and it’s a key priority for all of us to eliminate escapes completely.

Ms. Russell’s comments about the Fisheries Act are also misleading. We are not allowed to cause harm to the wild environment or release harmful materials to the ocean. Wording in those cases were used to address the difference between farming and fishing under the Act, which challengingly doesn’t mention Aquaculture once. The challenge of applying a Fisheries Act to Aquaculture was made very obvious as the new DFO regulations were drafted last year, and our companies are advocating for the creation of an Aquaculture-specific act.

Our farmers are coastal residents and neighbours, who care about the environment and protection of BC’s coast. With companies that listen, a public that engages and scientists and regulators who determine strong guidelines, we can all work together productively.

Mary Ellen Walling

Executive Director, BCSFA

Campbell River