Salmon study "too simplistic", says Canadian trade body – Fishupdate.com

Salmon study “too simplistic”, says Canadian trade body Published:  13 February, 2008

(Photo courtesy of BCSFA)

A NEW study published in the Public Library of Science Journal that correlates the decline of wild salmonids on both coasts of Canada to the incidence of salmon farming takes “a very narrow perspective on a complex issue”, according to a Canadian trade body.

The research, conducted by two Canadian marine biologists, claims to show dramatic declines in the abundance of wild salmon populations whose migration takes them past salmon farms in Canada, Ireland and Scotland.

However, the Canadian Aquaculture Industry Alliance (CAIA) says there are many threats and challenges facing the survival of wild salmon, such as urbanisation, forestry, agriculture, mining, transportation and climate change.

“To bring it down to one issue, such as salmon aquaculture, is far too simplistic,” says Ruth Salmon, Executive Director of the CAIA. According to the CAIA, while this study cites salmon farming as a significant cause for concern to wild stocks, there are many other studies that support a different view. For example, it contends, recent findings of the BC Pacific Salmon Forum’s 2007 research programme show adult pink salmon returns to the Broughton Archipelago in 2007 were similar or slightly improved relative to 2005, showing salmon aquaculture and the wild fishery can co-exist harmoniously.

And according to the Department of Fisheries and Oceans website, there is little evidence to support the suggestion that the presence of salmon farms increases the risk of disease in wild stocks, the organisation adds.

This is, in part, it says, due to the fact that all aquaculture operations in Canada must meet rigorous federal, provincial and international environmental standards. In fact, it adds, Canada has established some of the most stringent environmental standards of all aquaculture-producing countries. These standards, based on the best available scientific research, are in place to minimise and manage any potential risks associated with aquaculture operations.

“The Canadian aquaculture industry does not take the issue of declining wild salmon stocks lightly. We recognise the concerns of interactions with wild fish populations and work with government, scientists, and others to actively address them,” Ruth Salmon continued.

“Both wild and farmed salmon share the same environment – so it is in everyone’s best interest to collaborate on preserving the health of our marine resource. In fact, the aquaculture industry has become a partner in many conservation and protection programmes.

“Farmers in New Brunswick work directly with groups such as the Atlantic Salmon Federation to promote the conservation of wild salmon stocks in the Bay of Fundy. And in BC, the industry has been working in partnership with the Pacific Salmon Forum to address potential wild/farmed fish interactions.

“The Canadian aquaculture industry has consistently demonstrated its commitment to protecting wild stocks and the environment. It’s time to stop the accusations and begin recognising the importance of enhancing wild salmon stocks and supporting a sustainable salmon farming industry.”

The CAIA is a national industry association headquartered in Ottawa. It represents the interests of Canadian aquaculture operators, feed companies and suppliers as well as provincial finfish and shellfish aquaculture associations.

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