Aquaculture for all

Marine Harvest's Anti-Predator Nets A Good Example

Salmonids Sustainability

SCOTLAND and CANADA - Marine Harvest, one of the biggest producers of farmed salmon in Canada, has announced plans to protect stock in its Canadian fish cages by surrounding the farms with anti-predator nets. These nets will stop seals and other predators attacking the salmon and eliminate the need to shoot and kill the animals.

This announcement comes only days after an international coalition of animal welfare and marine conservation groups called on the American Government to ban the import of salmon from countries, including Scotland and Canada, where farmers are allowed to kill marine mammals.

The US Marine Mammal Protection Act prohibits the intentional killing of marine mammals in commercial fishing operations, including fish farms.

John Robins of the Scottish charity Save Our Seals Fund which was part of the coalition said: “For decades we have been trying to get Marine Harvest and other companies with salmon farms in Scotland to install exclusion nets to keep seals and other predators away from the salmon."

"Instead of backing our call the Scottish Government gave the fish farmer’s licenses to shoot nearly 1,300 seals a year. This could be the breakthrough we need. If Scottish fish farmers want to maintain access to the lucrative market in the United States they are going to have to follow the lead of Canadian salmon farmers and give up the cheap option of shooting seals and install and maintain proper anti-predator nets instead. If they can do it in Canada they can do it in Scotland and stop our seas running red with the blood of innocent seals.”

Don Staniford, coordinator for the Global Alliance Against Industrial Aquaculture, said: "Marine Harvest have blood on their hands from the killing of marine mammals around the world. That Marine Harvest in Canada is now investing in new predator nets is due to the threat of a ban on imports of farmed salmon to the lucrative US market."

"For decades the industry has claimed that the shooting of marine mammals is a 'last resort' yet it is clear that it has been trigger-happy in picking up the gun before picking up the bill for costly predator nets."

"In the same way as consumers demanded 'dolphin-friendly tuna' we should be demanding salmon that is sourced only from farms which do not kill seals and sea lions. Until the industry stops the slaughter, consumers should boycott 'seal unfriendly' farmed salmon. Sadly, the only way to force change in this lethal industry is to hurt the companies in the pocket."

Marine Harvest Canada says the nets, referred to as winter predator guards, encompass the entire farm and provide a first wall of defense against marine predators. They are constructed of high density polyethylene and include a stainless steel core and will cost $250,000 to outfit each farm site. They will be in place prior to the winter season when seals and sea lions begin to move into the area.

Talking about the increase of marine mamamls in the area, Clare Backman, MHC's Sustainability Programmes Director, said: "Marine users such as commercial fisheries, aquaculture, tourism and transport are all finding ways to accommodate this increase in marine mammal interactions.It's imperative that we take all necessary steps to eliminate lethal interactions."

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