Conservation groups to seafood buyers: Canadian net-pen farmed salmon is unsustainable

For Immediate Release
March 14, 2010

Boston, MA: In Canada, net-pen salmon farming has become synonymous with sea lice infestations that can kill vulnerable wild salmon and the degradation of coastal ecosystems. These destructive impacts are reported on a regular basis in the media and scientific journals continue to publish new research on the issue. Canadian net-pen farmed salmon is not compatible with consumer interest in environmentally responsible products and the increasing demand for sustainable seafood.

“As marketplace demand for sustainability grows, leaders in the food service and retail sectors are recognizing that products associated with severe environmental impacts are a risk—to the environment and business,” states Shauna MacKinnon, Markets Campaign Coordinator for Living Oceans Society, a member of the Coastal Alliance for Aquaculture Reform.

A new report released by seven conservation groups from across Canada, Canadian Net-Pen Aquaculture: Fundamentally Unsustainable, details how Canadian management agencies are dismissing scientific research and allowing the net-pen salmon farming industry to continue to release waste, disease, sea lice, and chemicals into the marine ecosystem to the detriment of wild fish and ocean health.

The Canadian government has invested significant funds to promote the salmon farming industry. The Department of Fisheries and Oceans (known as DFO) is mandated by the Canadian constitution to ensure healthy aquatic ecosystems and to conserve and protect wild fish and fish habitat. DFO has been given a second, political mandate to promote aquaculture. “These two mandates are in fundamental conflict and this is resulting in the failure to protect wild aquatic resources from aquaculture impacts,” states Inka Milewski, Science Advisor at the Conservation Council of New Brunswick.

A better model for salmon aquaculture already exists. Closed containment systems, whether sited on land or water, can effectively address the primary environmental impacts of net-pens. When coupled with advances that reduce the dependence on wild-caught fish in aquaculture feeds, a truly sustainable model for aquaculture can be achieved.

Until government and industry change their focus in salmon aquaculture towards the full implementation of closed containment technology Canada’s claims to a sustainable farmed salmon product will ring hollow.

Access the report Canadian Net-Pen Aquaculture: Fundamentally Unsustainable at:


For more information please contact:

Shauna MacKinnon Markets Campaign Coordinator LivingOceansSociety/CoastalAlliancefor AquacultureReform (604) 307-8091 (in Boston March 14-16)

Inka Milewski Science Advisor Conservation Council of New Brunswick (506) 622-2460