Vancouver Olympics celebrate the image of BC wild salmon, ignore their plight in reality

For Immediate Release
February 18, 2010

Vancouver, BC: Wild salmon swam spectacularly across the stadium floor in a virtual ocean during the Olympic opening ceremony. And while a narrator spoke of their cultural and ecological importance to ‘super, natural’ British Columbia – Olympic organizers’ appreciation for wild salmon stopped there, as mere entertainment, and does not extend into the real world where wild salmon are in crisis.

The Vancouver Organizing Committee (VANOC) for the 2010 Winter Games has failed to follow through on a key sustainability indicator; the Olympics are not a farmed salmon-free event. In a region where destructive net-cage salmon farming is a top environmental concern and wild salmon are a keystone species, VANOC should have gone the extra mile to ensure only responsibly harvested wild salmon were on vendors’ menus.

The Coastal Alliance for Aquaculture Reform (CAAR) has confirmed that five out of eight vendors are proudly serving wild salmon exclusively, including suppliers to the Vancouver and Whistler athletes’ villages, while one is selling farmed salmon and two did not respond by release time.

In the years leading up to the Olympics, CAAR met with VANOC’s Sustainability Directors to inform the Committee of the impacts of open net-cage salmon farms on coastal ecosystems and communities. CAAR urged Olympic organizers to select food vendors that offer only sustainably-ranked wild salmon or other fish, or disallow vendors to serve farmed salmon at Olympic venues.

“In early discussions with VANOC, we were hopeful that avoiding farmed salmon would be an obvious piece of their sustainability program given the severity of the problems around net- cage salmon farming in this province,” says Catherine Stewart of Living Oceans Society. “CAAR is very disappointed VANOC failed to take this simple step towards a sustainable Olympics.”

CAAR is alerting Olympic visitors to the problems of open net-cage salmon farming in BC and the push for closed containment through ads on the Canada Line and a full-page ad in today’s Georgia Straight newspaper. Olympic attendees can visit www.bettersalmon.org to find out which vendors are farmed salmon-free.

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For further information please contact:

Catherine Stewart, Living Oceans Society Phone: 604-916-6722

David Fields, Wild Salmon Supporters Phone: 604-722-4775