Save The Wild Salmon? Why Bother, They’re Toast…

Will fish farming be the salmon’s demise or its saviour?

Salmon farming is one of the more controversial issues on Canada’s west coast. As with many environmental controversies our country’s sovereignty is being toyed with- at least, that’s the belief of many. Millions of dollars are invested in both pro and anti salmon farming public relations initiatives. But, considering that Fukushima is poisoning the Pacific ocan- why bother any longer?

There are three key groups involved in the salmon controversy- fish farmers, environmental activists, and indigenous people. Each have their own strong opinions that are mostly public, but there are some important hidden motivations which aren’t being discussed.

The fish farmer’s motivations are quite transparent- they want to grow fish, sell them and make a profit. The industry says that they are expanding the science of ichthyology and learning how to build sustainable fisheries that provide an opportunity help save wild salmon from extinction. As with any farming, there are environmental consequences- but, the fish farmers tell us that they are working hard to minimize their impact.

They also tell us that farmed salmon is higher in omega-3’s- an essential fatty acid that nutritionists say is important to reducing cardiovascular disease. And, (contested) research has shown that farmed salmon has lower mercury than wild salmon.

Indigenous communities view salmon as important both for food, economics and religious purposes. Many nations believe that salmon are sacred, and that it is their duty to preserve and protect them. This religious impact is rarely discussed- but I have had an indigenous person tell me they felt uncomfortable seeing the fish locked-up in pens.

Environmentalists have some serious issues with farmed salmon. They complain that issues like sea lice and viruses are magnified in crowded salmon pens and create a serious risk to wild salmon. That said, this research is also contested within the scientific community. Nobody has concrete evidence to prove it one way or another, so there’s a lot of ambiguity.

While the fish farmers are transparent in their quest for profit, there’s also a lot of ambiguity in the motivations behind the environmentalists- most of this is due to their funding. According to Vivian Krause’s research, activists have been gifted with millions of dollars (through our old friends TIDES Canada) both to protest salmon fishing, and for the promotion of eating wild salmon over farmed.

Who was the beneficiary of this funding? Well, speculation is that the American donors were protecting the Alaskan wild salmon market. It’s too cold to farm salmon in most of Alaska, and their industry is geared-up for fishing wild salmon. Krause’s research shows that the value of Alaskan salmon has more than quadrupled since attacks began on salmon fishing.

So, both sides (for and against) have some solid arguments to back their causes- but, equally both suffer from ambiguity, and cannot provide positive proof behind their assertions. What’s needed is something to break the deadlock so that we can get past the current stalemate.

Here, have a look at this quick video:

According to this research, the Pacific Ocean will be fully contaminated with radiation from Fukushima in two years from now. And, as a lot of people have pointed out to me, this video is a best-case scenario. Apparently, it doesn’t take into consideration that Fukushima is still recycling tonnes of radiated water through their reactors and back into the ocean. Radiation has already been found in Pacific bluefin tuna found off of the California coast too. Personally, I’ve already tried to stop eating wild Pacific fish- soon this will be the norm.

So, it may turn out that fish farming technology will be the only way we’ll be able to have edible Pacific salmon soon. That is, if the economics can be worked-out where it is profitable to grow farmed salmon without using water from the sea. It seems to me that this makes the whole fish farming controversy a moot point now.

It’s time that we shift the focus, and funding, from trying to stop the development of salmon farming and start researching how we can mitigate the risks of radioactive fish. If the TIDES Foundation really cares about humanity they should realize this now- it will be curious to see how long it will take for them to react to this change…

Permanent link to this article: