To the editor,
Re: Fish farms negatively impacting environment, Letters, Oct. 3.
These letters contain numerous false statements and inaccuracies that simply cannot be left unchallenged.
Disease from salmon farms has never been implicated to have impacted wild salmon in British Columbia. Other than findings of certain anti-fish farm activists, whose scientific procedure has been shown at times to not have scientific integrity, there is no evidence of harm to wild salmon from farmed.
In one of the recent letters the letter writer raises concern about salmon farms and “their pollution” and then lists these pollutants. These statements reveal a complete ignorance of the practice of salmon aquaculture. While antibiotic use in past decades was an issue, with the development of effective vaccines, the amount of antibiotics used in salmon aquaculture is almost nonexistent. Certainly, use of antibiotics in salmon aquaculture in British Columbia is orders of measure less that what are used in the production of other proteins such as chicken.
Sea lice and their treatment is likewise closely monitored, highly regulated and controlled. The farmed fish themselves require a pristine environment and fish farmers are the most dedicated people I know in protecting that environment. Their livelihoods depend on it.
These letter writers echo the call that the fish farms must be moved on land. My wife and I happen to be the owners of one of the very few land-based grow out salmon farms in the world, one of three in British Columbia. While there is a common perception that the technology currently exists to take the salmon farms out of the ocean and move them on land it simply is not so. Atlantic salmon, which is the most cultured salmon, has simply not been successfully raised at commercial scale on land at a profit anywhere, other than at hatchery stage. Land-based salmon farming does have a future in B.C., and our farm is showing that. But, I see land-based salmon farming as a complement to ocean farming, not a replacement.
Salmon aquaculture is now a very important industry to B.C. The economic impact has now eclipsed $1.5 billion dollars. That is jobs and tax revenue for B.C. and Canada. Farmed salmon is a necessary protein to feed the world and it is produced, in B.C., in a responsible manner.
Steve Atkinson, president, Taste of B.C. Aquafarms