Vote for wild salmon this election!

April 28, 2011 eNews

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Vote for wild salmon this election!

A recent poll found that the majority of British Columbians surveyed consider wild salmon to be highly valuable, both culturally and economically. The overall prosperity of our province rests on the back of healthy, functioning ecosystems – and a healthy environment requires the protection of keystone species such as wild salmon.

To ensure this protection, we need our government to fully acknowledge the destructive impacts of net-cage aquaculture and to develop a plan for a transition away from this outdated technology. With the federal election just days away, we have an opportunity vote in candidates that will support this change.

Throughout the campaign, we have been tracking what candidates have been saying as well as the content of their party platforms with respect to protecting wild salmon. We are encouraged by some of what we have heard and read – three of the four main parties in BC acknowledge the need for change on this issue to some degree. Read our overview here.

On May 2nd, help make sure we elect a government that will protect wild salmon and support the transition from destructive net-cage salmon farming to more sustainable closed containment technology.

Proposed standards for “organic” farmed salmon still a far cry from genuine organic principles

Antibiotics? Synthetic pesticides? Habitat destruction? Does this sound like organic food production to you? The second draft of the proposed standards for organic aquaculture that would allow shellfish and farmed fish, including net-cage farmed salmon, to carry the organic label are open for public comment until May 31, 2011.

The bad news is the standards don’t even follow the most basic organic principles. For instance, due to “insufficient supplies of organic fishmeal,” draft two allows fishmeal to be up to 100% non-organic and unsustainably sourced. The good news is there is still something that we can do about it.

This will be the final public input opportunity concerning these standards so please, share your thoughts with the Canadian General Standards Board. You can review the second draft and make your comments here. Visit our website for more information on what’s wrong with the proposed standards.

CAAR releases report on legitimacy of farmed salmon eco-certifications

Earlier this month, CAAR and Living Oceans Society released a new report examining the sustainability claims of farmed salmon eco-certifications. Better than the Rest? A Resource Guide to Farmed Salmon Certifications assesses the five eco-certifications on the market, two certifications in draft and the organic labels in use and in development for farmed salmon. Unfortunately all five eco-certifications fail to fully meet the requirements of credible standards.

Read our media release | Read the report

Memos at sockeye inquiry highlight DFO’s neglect of fish habitat, promotion of aquaculture

The primary mandate of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) is the conservation and protection of aquatic ecosystems and wild fish populations. However, this mandate is contradicted by DFO’s political mandate to support and promote the aquaculture industry. This significant conflict of interest was laid bare at the Cohen Inquiry this month with two internal DFO memos entered into evidence. One reveals the department’s struggle to adequately protect fish habitat while the other highlights the department’s work with the salmon farming industry to “improve the public perception and acceptance of the aquaculture industry.”

A briefing note written by Jason Hwang, a manager for DFO’s Habitat and Enhancement Branch, revealed that the department is struggling to ensure salmon habitat is not degraded by logging, mining, agriculture, urban growth and other activities. According to Hwang, his department has been unable to ensure that infrastructure development does not cause a net loss of fish habitat due to a new but weak habitat protection policy – the Environmental Process Modernization Plan (EPMP) – as well as a reduction in staff. An April 5th article in the Globe and Mail quotes Hwang in his note saying: “ Our staff are very dis-illusioned [sic] that the department is not doing more to address this” and “We don’t have a handle on what is actually going on.”

Meanwhile another note entitled “Meeting with the BC Salmon Farmer’s Association Regarding Public Confidence and Aquaculture ” cites DFO’s “numerous initiatives underway to help support the aquaculture industry” and how “the industry seems satisfied with the progress made” with reference to a meeting with members of the salmon farming industry, DFO’s Acting Regional Director General of the Pacific Region and others. The note shows very clearly which of its mandates the department has chosen to advance when it describes how the Pacific Regional Director of Aquaculture continues to lead on discussions with other federal agencies, the province and industry on environmental assessments “ even though, since leaving the Habitat and Enforcement Branch, the Regional Aquaculture Management office no longer has responsibility for these reviews.”

CAAR’s Craig Orr, in attendance when the evidence was presented to the Cohen Commission was quoted in the same article: “The evidence supports the widely held belief that government is more concerned with streamlining harmful industrial development and bolstering flagging public confidence than in protecting critical salmon habitat.”

For more information and updates on Cohen Inquiry developments, check out the “Salmon Leaks” section on the Watershed Watch Salmon Society blog.