CAAR groups condemn Mainstream’s certification as not ‘Best Practices’

For Immediate Release
December 16, 2011

VANCOUVER — At a time when the environmental risks of British Columbia’s open-net cage salmon farming industry are drawing increased scrutiny, Mainstream Canada announced their Brent Island farm has achieved certification under Global Aquaculture Alliance’s (GAA) ‘Best Aquaculture Practices (BAP).’ This announcement also comes at a time when new testimony at the Cohen Commission of Inquiry into the Decline of Fraser River sockeye revealed that the infectious salmon anemia virus (ISAv) has been in B.C. waters for at least 25 years.

“Certifying a net-cage farm as ‘sustainable’ given the well-documented negative impacts that they are having on the marine environment, especially wild salmon, does not make sense particularly given the latest ISAv developments,” said Kelly Roebuck, Sustainable Seafood Campaign Manager with Living Oceans Society, a Coastal Alliance for Aquaculture Reform member group. “The GAA certification process is industry-driven and gives us no assurances that wild salmon will be protected from sea lice and disease.”

The Brent Island farm is located in the Wild Salmon Narrows, a narrow migration route for wild salmon, including the Fraser River sockeye.

The industry-led ‘Best Aquaculture Practices’ GAA certification does not ensure ‘sustainability’ or a rigorous environmental standard that protects wild salmon. The standard does not appropriately address disease or have set limits on parasiticide or antibiotic use for example. In addition, credible certifications should have a transparent process and publish publically-available third party auditor assessments that allow for stakeholder groups to submit objections before a certification is approved.

Yesterday, Dr. Kristi Miller, Head of Molecular Genetics, Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) testified that she found a divergent strain of the ISA virus in wild salmon tests done at her lab, including in pink and sockeye samples from as far back as 1986.

“Closed containment aquaculture would eliminate many of the environmental risks associated with B.C.’s industrial salmon farms, including disease transfer such as ISAv to wild stocks,” concluded Roebuck.

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For more information, please contact:

Kelly Roebuck, Living Oceans Society, group member of the Coastal Alliance for Aquaculture Reform, (604) 696-5044, kroebuck@livingoceans.org

Jay Ritchlin, David Suzuki Foundation, group member of the Coastal Alliance for Aquaculture Reform, (604) 961-6840, jritchlin@davidsuzuki.org