Supporting salmon farms is madness

  • Feb. 3, 2006 1:00 p.m.

Opinion piece ubmitted by John Disney, Masset.
–Of all the insane and diabolical activities that government has taken part in during the last 300 years, the promotion and blind support of salmon farms is probably the maddest. And the fact that Fisheries and Oceans Canada has managed to dream up a scenario whereby they have two spheres within their domain that so completely oppose each other means that they are continuing down their own crazy path into oblivion.
On the one hand, they have their mandate which states they must promote the protection of wild salmon and the ecosystems that support them, and now they have an ‘aquaculture division’ for the promotion of salmon farms. This is the definition of ‘mutually exclusive’ in that salmon farms are destroying coastal ecosystems which are needed for the wild salmon’s survival. Whatever they do now they are wrong; either by their own institution’s rules or by favouring one of their mandates over the other.
On the world stage we have Norway, Scotland, England, The Faroes and Ireland all actually asking BC “what the heck do you think you are doing? We have all done salmon farming with the open net cage system and we have destroyed our ecosystems, our coastal economy and to some degree our culture-are you going to do the same?” This is what Ottawa and Victoria fail to comprehend. The wild salmon are inextricably linked to the economy, the culture and the ecosystems of coastal BC. If we destroy them we destroy the heart of the coast.
If you don’t have the time or patience to research the issues of salmon farming consider this one fact and go no further. A raccoon will eat almost anything on earth including its own feces but it won’t touch farmed salmon!
But if you would like more clarity you can look at 3 main areas of this industry. First, there’s the economic reality over the myth. Salmon farming is promoted as a huge economic and employment generator-wrong! In fact, if you want to put this industry into economic perspective consider this. The sports fishermen of BC spend 3 times more on purchasing their gear each year than the entire gross revenue of the salmon farming industry. A significant portion of the industry is automated now and the only place there is any wealth generated is for the foreign companies that are financing the whole mess. Canada and BC are showing a healthy deficit when it comes to salmon farming. Several bureaucrats were blinded by the lush treatment they received from the multi-nationals and so promoted this industry without enough due diligence-remember van Dugan?
The second area that has helped this industry force its way in on the BC coast is the cooperation that the Canadian and BC governments have given the large chemical companies. These guys make big bucks off the salmon farm industry, but they need the assistance of governments to help them mask the facts of what they are selling the farm operators and the effects of these chemicals on both humans and the ecosystems around farm sites. Together with hiding behind copyright laws, these huge multi-national companies are very adept at playing this game.
Thirdly, and the most diabolical area you should consider, is the use and effects of these chemicals themselves. Like an inland feedlot when you cram millions of salmon together in a very tight area you have enormous disease and health problems. To combat this, fish farmers douse the net pens in some of the most toxic substances known to man. The roots of these chemicals go back to the Second World War and the poison gas that killed many soldiers back then. From there, they get progressively worse and more deadly until the present day salmon farms are using man’s most deadly chemicals ever. If you picked the top 10 most toxic chemicals invented by man you will find them in use in salmon farms somewhere. These are used for everything from dying the flesh of the salmon from its dirty grey color to pink, to killing the parasitic lice which infest their bodies.
These chemicals and the huge explosion of lice around salmon farms are killing our coastal ecosystems and our wild salmon stocks as we sit here. The existence of these farms is being promoted by both our governments under an umbrella of lies and misinformation. This should have been an election issue. When I received those annoying phone calls from any of the parties I asked one question: “if elected will you ban all open net-cage fish farms from the BC coast?” If no-they didn’t get my vote-clean and simple and probably totally ineffective!
The fish farm companies are circling Haida Gwaii now and if we let them in they will kill our rivers, our salmon and coastal ecosystems. This can not be allowed to happen.

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