Top News

SUSAN FARQUHARSON: Resist fear-mongering from anti-salmon farming activists

A Cooke Aquaculture salmon farm in Nova Scotia.
A Cooke Aquaculture salmon farm in Nova Scotia. - File

SUSAN FARQUHARSON 

As seafood professionals gather this week in Halifax for the 22nd Nova Scotia Department of Fisheries and Aquaculture Minister’s Conference, the seemingly never-ending debate over salmon farming will resurface, complete with the usual dump of misinformation by several small but vocal anti-fish farming activist groups. 

As this unfolds, here is my call to Nova Scotians and their elected officials: Stand up to these anti-salmon farming sentiments that are based on the politics of fear rather than the realities of science. 

Few realize Atlantic Canadians are global pioneers when it comes to salmon farming. From highly skilled engineers, veterinarians and researchers to marine biologists, scientists and farmers, the men and women who work in the salmon farming industry in our region are world-class experts in their fields. Atlantic Canada has among the highest concentration of credentialed and experienced aquaculture researchers in the world. Here is what just a few aquaculture experts say: 


Aquaculture is based on, and driven by, strong, innovative science. There are thousands of scientific articles published every year on aquaculture science, which are making discoveries that improve the efficiency and sustainability of aquaculture. It’s a dynamic industry that relies on these scientific discoveries to make strides forward in producing healthy food and minimizing environmental impacts.

- Dr. Stefanie Colombo, PhD (biology), MSc (biology), BSc (marine & freshwater biology), assistant professor and Canada research chair (Tier II) in aquaculture nutrition, 10 years of university education, 13 years of working and training in aquaculture 


 From egg to plate, nearly every aspect of Atlantic salmon aquaculture has been informed by science-based research and development. It has been a rich and vital part of its history and will continue to play an essential role in its future.

- Dr. Benjamin S. Forward, BSc (honours, biology), PhD (biochemistry), director, department of applied & experimental bioscience, New Brunswick Research & Productivity Council, 14 years working in aquaculture 


 Atlantic Canadian salmon farmers have adopted the most rigid standards for marine ocean farming, and are certified by credible environmental groups based on sound science principles. They base their farming on the most current science and technology available.

Cyr Couturier, aquaculture scientist, chair MSc sustainable aquaculture program, school of fisheries, Marine Institute of Memorial University, 40 years working in aquaculture 


Salmon farming was initially developed over 40 years ago as a means to produce high-quality and healthy fish, and take fishing pressure off vulnerable wild populations. This science-based approach has continued throughout the responsible growth of the sector. Research, development and innovation forms the foundation of salmon farming and also provides valuable support to wild salmon conservation efforts.

- Dr. Jamey Smith, PhD (aquaculture), BSc (honours, fishery), 34 years involved in planning, impact assessment, and monitoring of aquatic sectors 


What started out 40 years ago as one farm and a collaboration between entrepreneurs, government, researchers and conservationists has grown into a vibrant sector that produces 300 million meals annually, generates more than 4,000 jobs and over $400 million in employment income, contributing over $1 billion to the Canadian GDP. That development is underpinned by continued collaboration and by years of robust and credible science, research and innovation. 

Let’s be proud of our salmon farming industry that Atlantic Canadians created. Let’s trust the science of our very own aquaculture experts who work in this sector, who live in our communities, and who want the best for the people who live here and the ocean waters we love. 

Nova Scotia’s anti-salmon farming activists — and the people they are bringing here from out of province to talk to our elected officials and residents — have ingrained agendas to promote political fear-mongering based on misinformation. Don’t fall for it. It’s time for Nova Scotians who support salmon farming (and opinion polls consistently show that over 80 per cent of Atlantic Canadians do!) to stand up to the misinformation on social media, to attend public meetings and show their support for this industry, and to tell elected officials that they want this sector to continue to operate and develop sustainably in this province. 

To Nova Scotia’s elected officials: don’t be swayed by ill-informed opinions thrown up on social media or non-peer-reviewed “studies” by people who have never worked in the salmon farming industry. You have a responsibility to do what is right on behalf of all the people and to do so based on the best available science, not emotions.  

Susan Farquharson is the executive director of the Atlantic Canada Fish Farmers Association (atlanticfishfarmers.com)

RELATED:

Recent Stories