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CAMPBELL RIVER B.C. – The Pacific Salmon Foundation (PSF)’s recommendation B.C.’s salmon farmers be forced to move to closed-containment farming immediately, would only result in more pressure being put on wild Pacific salmon stocks while effectively shutting down an industry that supports more than 6,600 jobs in rural coastal communities.

“We’re disappointed in the premature and misguided statement the Pacific Salmon Foundation issued this week,” said Shawn Hall, spokesperson for the BC Salmon Farmers Association. “Salmon farmers committed to the PSF and to DFO that we would participate in the Strategic Salmon Health Initiative, a body of research that is not yet complete and to date has shown no direct evidence that salmon farms are negatively impacting the health of wild Pacific Salmon. In fact, there is important data regarding the health of wild salmon the research team has yet to make public that we believe is important for the public debate.

“Also, the PSF fails to consider the real-world reality that the technology to move to large-scale closed containment farming is still evolving and may never develop to a point that would enable a production to support important jobs in rural coastal B.C., so this move would effectively shut our industry down.”

Ironically, one of the reports the PSF cites in its statement, the Ministerial Advisory Committee on Finfish Aquaculture, actually highlights the strides B.C.’s salmon farmers have made in recent years in critical areas such as wild and farmed fish health, environmental stewardship, and relationships with First Nations. That group provided a number of recommendations about how to continue evolving salmon farming in the province the industry agrees with and is actively implementing. The committee did not make a recommendation to move farming immediately to closed containment.

The PSF did not speak to the industry to gain its insights before making their statement. The BCSFA would be willing to engage in constructive dialogue with the foundation about its statement and to share information and perspectives.

“Fish farming plays a critical role in protecting wild stocks,” Hall said. “An average of 70 per cent of the salmon harvested in BC each year is farmed. Globally, more than half the fish the human race consumes today is farmed, and the UN recently projected that will increase to two-thirds by 2030. There are simply not enough wild fish in the oceans to meet growing human demand, so if the PSF’s recommendation were followed and farms were to suddenly disappear wild stocks would be fished out in short order. The key is to farm responsibly, with the health of wild fish at the fore. That is our passion.”

About the BC Salmon Farmers Association:

Farm-raised salmon is B.C.’s highest valued seafood product, the province’s top agricultural export, and generates over $1.5-billion towards the B.C. economy, resulting in over 6,600 jobs.

The BC Salmon Farmers Association represents 56 businesses and organizations throughout the value chain of finfish aquaculture in B.C. Our members account for over 95% of the annual provincial harvest of farm-raised salmon, 100% of the salmon feed produced in B.C., and most of the service and suppliers involved in ensuring that over $700-million of salmon raised in B.C. gets to domestic and global markets.

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Media contact:

Shawn Hall