Norwegian government urged to protect Canadian wild salmon from Cermaq salmon farms

For Immediate Release
May 20, 2008

Oslo, Norway – The Coastal Alliance for Aquaculture Reform (CAAR) is demanding action on salmon farming at the Annual General Meeting of the second largest salmon farming company operating in BC, Cermaq and from its controlling shareholder, the Norwegian government.

CAAR representative David Lane of the T. Buck Suzuki Environmental Foundation will present a resolution to the board and shareholders of Norwegian-owned Cermaq, the parent company of Mainstream Canada on May 22, asking for full compliance with Norwegian state policies on sustainability for state corporations. The government of Norway is the controlling shareholder of Cermaq, holding 43.5 percent of shares.

“It’s outrageous that the Norwegian government professes to run sustainable state-owned companies, yet their salmon farms in B.C. are causing serious environmental harm and operate in a manner that would not be allowed in Norway,” said David Lane, Executive Director or the T. Buck Suzuki Environmental Foundation. “The Norwegian government must take immediate action to ensure Mainstream Canada stops harming the B.C. environment and putting B.C. wild salmon runs in jeopardy.”

Although the Norwegian state policy on government-controlled companies demands the minimization of negative impacts on the external environment, Cermaq’s operations in B.C. have been in the news repeatedly for sea lice problems, escapes and marine mammal kills.

Peer-reviewed published research shows that sea lice from salmon farms are seriously impacting wild salmon in British Columbia where Cermaq operates open net-cage salmon farms. The company has salmon farms in the United Nations Biosphere Reserve in Clayoquot Sound, the Northern Georgia Strait, a region well-known for wild salmon sports fishing, and in the Broughton Archipelago, where research shows high rates of sea lice infection have seriously depressed wild salmon runs. Sea lice levels on wild salmon have been severe and population declines of 98% have been recorded in this high farm density area on the BC coast.

New data published in the journal Science predicts that wild pink salmon in the Broughton Archipelago will be driven to extinction within four years unless action is taken to address the deadly impact of sea lice from salmon farms.

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For more information please contact:

David Lane, Executive Director, T. Buck Suzuki Foundation: 1-202-251-3997 (cell in Oslo)

Catherine Stewart, Living Oceans Society, local media contact: 604-696-5044, cell: 604-916-6722