Farm­ers hit back at ‘pub­lic­ity stunt’

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AN anti-salmon farm­ing cam­paign in Canada fea­tur­ing Pamela An­der­son, the for­mer Bay­watch star, has been dis­missed as a mis­lead­ing pub­lic­ity stunt by farm­ers.

The cam­paign, launched last month by the Sea Shep­ard So­ci­ety, plans to travel up the BC coast over the course of sev­eral weeks, stop­ping at var­i­ous salmon farms to ‘con­duct au­dits’.

The BC Salmon Farm­ers As­so­ci­a­tion is con­cerned about the aims of this voy­age. Although the campaigner­s in­sisted they would be ‘non-ag­gres­sive and non-ha­rass­ing’ when ap­proach­ing farms, the Sea Shep­herd So­ci­ety has a long his­tory of do­ing the op­po­site, said the BCSFA.

Farm­ing com­pa­nies place great em­pha­sis on the health and safety of em­ploy­ees, and the health and well­be­ing of their an­i­mals, with every farm cer­ti­fied by third-party en­vi­ron­men­tal sus­tain­abil­ity and food safety stan­dards.

Farm­ers rais­ing At­lantic salmon have all com­mit­ted to achiev­ing the most strin­gent cer­ti­fi­ca­tion avail­able – the ASC cer­ti­fi­ca­tion – by 2020, and are get­ting there as fast, or faster, than any­one in the world, said the BCSFA.

Salmon on farms are healthy, with about 90 per cent sur­viv­ing through to mar­ket. Fish on farms are ex­am­ined on a daily ba­sis, with thou­sands of lab­o­ra­tory tests done each year in BC to en­sure that farm­ers know the ex­act health sta­tus of their stock. BCSFA ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor Jeremy Dunn said: ‘We’re dis­ap­pointed that this lat­est pub­lic­ity stunt is at­tempt­ing to paint a mis­lead­ing picture of an in­dus­try that pro­vides a healthy, sus­tain­able prod­uct that feeds mil­lions of peo­ple.

‘Our in­dus­try is ob­sessed with the health of salmon as salmon health is es­sen­tial to the suc­cess of our in­dus­try.

‘BC salmon farm­ers are in­volved with the Pa­cific Salmon Foun­da­tion, De­part­ment of Fish­eries & Oceans, UBC, and oth­ers in the Strate­gic Salmon Health Ini­tia­tive – the largest sin­gle study into the health of salmon on the BC coast ever un­der­taken.

‘A world class re­search team is cur­rently test­ing close to 30,000 sam­ples of wild, hatch­ery and farm raised salmon. We are re­ly­ing on this team to en­sure ad­vo­cacy and re­search do not get con­fused. It is im­por­tant to dis­tin­guish re­search from ad­vo­cacy. Both are le­git­i­mate but they are dif­fer­ent. The re­search ques­tion that is the fo­cus of this voy­age seems to be the pres­ence of the virus PRV .Like peo­ple, all an­i­mals have thou­sands of viruses. What we worry about is do they cause dis­ease. The an­swer for salmon and PRV af­ter years of study is no.

‘Mem­bers of the BCSFA are open to meet­ing with Sea Shep­herd sci­en­tists to hear if they think there is a dif­fer­ent ap­proach to that of the lead­ing gov­ern­ment and univer­sity sci­en­tists, or if they can add to the ex­per­tise al­ready work­ing on projects, we’d like to see if there is a pos­si­bil­ity for col­lab­o­ra­tion.’

Above: Pamela An­der­son- con­duct­ing au­dits’

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