BC’s Jeremy Dunn
Building trust isn’t easy, but it’s worth it
AFTER four years with the BC Salmon Farmers Association I find myself re ecting on the industry’s future as I move on to a new job. This is an easy industry to believe in, but not always an easy industry to represent. The association’s key role in representing the industry’s interests with media, government, communities, and other stakeholders will continue long a er my departure.
I have grown increasingly passionate about salmon farming during my time with the association. I have come to understand the deep pride all farmers feel in producing healthy food and the pride that comes when you work responsibly.
The world’s appetite for fish is increasing quickly as population numbers, wealth and health consciousness grow.
Wild fish stocks are now under great pressure and so already more than half of the fish people eat today comes from farming. Looking forward, aquaculture will have a still larger role to play in responding to tomorrow’s demand.
Looking at the larger environmental picture when we consider all the pressures on the planet, the need for sustainable aquaculture becomes even clearer, given its environmental footprint is so much lower than most other sources of animal protein that we eat today.
As a new farming sector we have made mistakes. But we are agile, innovative, and responsive to good science about how we can do things better.
It has been just 35 years since we first put farming nets in the waters of BC and yet we have already made sweeping advances in everything, from how we site farms to ensure the best possible fish health and environmental stewardship, to how we partner with local First Nations communities.
Earning trust for our industry in the face of negative a tudes and misinformation has been my mission these last four years. We have made significant progress in that time but have a lot more work ahead of us.
One key reason we face this challenge is that aquaculture is young. All farming, whether on land or in water, has an environmental impact. The key is to minimise the impact and farm responsibly, prioritising both human food and the environment simultaneously. In BC, salmon farmers live that every day.
Also, people are rightly passionate about the oceans, and want to be sure that aquaculture operations don’t harm the waters and wild fish.
The oceans we operate in are definitely under pressure. Unfortunately, the serious threats are mostly invisible or awfully complex and challenging to address- like climate change, plastics and other pollutants, and over fishing.
It is easier to point to fish farming and say that shu ng it down will solve the problem, rather than tackle the real issues. It is easier than ge ng chemicals and plastics out of our waterways, easier than addressing climate change, easier than genuine reconciliation with First Nations.
Building trust with British Columbians in this environment is hard work. It takes time, as well as both patience and persistence.
I have seen change over just the past four years within academia, the culinary community, and the general public.
I still get asked the same questions all the time, but I’m thankful that people are interested and take time to consider a different perspective than views they may have held for some time.
We are making progress. We’re holding more events, introducing more people to farm raised salmon and sablefish, and have become
Above: Jeremy Dunn. Right: Anti-salmon farm protesters in BC