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Global Warming Hits Wild Salmon Hard

CANADA - Fish farmers say their practices are safe, sustainable and well‐regulated

"Simple science, simple solutions. If only it worked that way," say BC Salmon Farmers' Association. "Unfortunately, science is seldom black and white. Cause and effect are often difficult to determine and solutions to difficult problems rarely ever straightforward. Let's consider the plight of wild salmon by looking first at a fact that no one disputes. "

According to BC Salmon Farmers' Association, all up and down the Pacific northwest coast from California to Alaska, wild salmon populations are in decline. In California, salmon runs are in such a desperate state that coastal fishing was called off for the second year in a row.

What is causing the decline of wild salmon populations?

Terry Anderson ("Net‐pen farms make no sense for B.C.," May 3) places the blame on salmon farmers citing a litany of environmental impacts that he claims are "pushing some stocks of wild Pacific salmon precipitously close to extinction."

However, it is important to note that salmon farming is not practised in California or many other areas where salmon populations are dwindling.

According to BC Salmon Farmers' Associationn, Anderson's black and white analysis is contrasted by an article published May 4 in Seafood.com news that points to a new threat more devastating than the gill nets that sent dozens of salmon runs into extinction, raising doubts about whether salmon will survive in the Northern Pacific at all.

Is that threat salmon farming?

"No," says BC Salmon Farmers' Association. "It is global warming." According to the association, changing ocean conditions have already made rivers and oceans warmer, prompting early spring run‐off and disrupting the lifecycle of the salmon. In addition, as those who have invested time and money in rebuilding watersheds know, urbanization, forestry, mining, land‐based farming and a host of other factors have affected fish habitat and survival rates.

Anderson opts to do what he calls "fish‐farming math" to determine if salmon farming is a good deal for British Columbia and concludes, "the answer is an unequivocal no."

We share Anderson's concern about wild salmon and that's one of the reasons why we are proud to work as salmon farmers. The statement is not as contradictory as he would have you believe.

B.C. is the most stringently regulated of any salmon farming jurisdiction in the world. The efforts of concerned British Columbians, combined with the tightest regulatory framework in the world, have made B.C.'s salmon farming community commit to sustainability and to reducing farming's environmental footprint, while actively contributing to coastal communities and their economies.

Anderson alleges that the only benefit salmon farming brings to B.C. is a limited number of jobs in what he describes as "remote" communities. According to a study done by PriceWaterhouseCoopers, direct employment in hatcheries, grow‐out, other farm activities and processing is more than 6,000 people, generating an economic output of more than $800 million in 2008, with many of those jobs located in coastal communities hard hit by the recent economic downturn.

Farmed salmon is also B.C.'s largest agricultural export. In 2008, B.C. farmers sold 73,600 dressed tonnes, with wholesale sales of $507 million. Market prospects for farmed salmon remain strong as people eat more fish. By 2030 the world is expected to eat nearly 70 per cent more fish than it does now: That demand cannot be sustainably supplied by wild fisheries.

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