Aquaculture for all

Farmers Support Public Release Of Fish Health Data

Salmonids Health Politics +3 more

CANADA - The British Columbia Salmon Farmers Association (BCSFA) has supported the public release of thousands of pages of farm-by-farm fish health data at the Cohen Commission of Inquiry into the decline of Fraser River Sockeye salmon.

"We are very confident in our fish health data reporting - we know it's a robust data set that has and will continue to help our veterinarians manage farm health and help people to understand the good management practices of our farms," said Mary Ellen Walling, Executive Director of the BCSFA, about the information that dates back to 2003.

The decision was made by Justice Bruce Cohen to make the information public after the BCSFA supported the release.

The BCSFA has been actively involved in the Cohen Commission since it began and feel this is a unique opportunity for the public to learn more about salmon farming.

"There is nothing to connect the health of our farmed fish to the challenges faced by Fraser River Sockeye - we have already heard that in the first day of hearings on aquaculture," said Ms Walling.

"With the content of four expert reports now public, we felt the context was now available to support a broader understanding of our data."

In the first day of the aquaculture hearings, the gallery heard the database described by Dr Josh Korman as 'impressive.' When asked to expand, he said the quality and amount of reporting are high.

However, releasing the information does not come without risk to BC's salmon farmers. There is an active group of anti-farm campaigners who may try to pull pieces of information out of context to misrepresent it and undermine public confidence in the health of BC's farmed salmon.

The provincial government opposed the public release of data they collected because of the precedent it might set for other livestock producers which report confidential information voluntarily.

"We appreciate the province's concern - but feel that in the interest of our industry's goals of transparency, we needed to support this release," said Ms Walling.

"With the independent third-party expert reports from the Cohen commission now on the record, we feel those interested in this topic can learn the real story about farm fish health rather than rely on the interpretation of our critics."

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