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Protecting Wild Salmon And BC Jobs

Salmonids Sustainability Post-harvest +3 more

BRITISH COLUMBIA, CANADA - Blaming salmon farms for the decline in wild salmon stocks is risking an industry that employs thousands of Vancouver Island residents, while avoiding the real issues around conservation, says the BC Salmon Farmers Association.

"We agree that wild salmon are very important and need to be protected – but there are a multitude of factors that are contributing to their struggle," said Mary Ellen Walling, Executive Director of the BC Salmon Farmers Association. "Focusing on the removal of salmon farms is short-sighted and misguided."

Significant amounts of misinformation are being spread about the effect of salmon farms on wild salmon stocks. Studies show that Pacific salmon have developed a natural ability to resist sea lice damage and even shed them once they reach a certain size. Reports also show that sea lice numbers on wild salmon in areas away from farms are about the same, and sometimes more, than on wild fish in areas with farms.

There are no signs that sea lice are becoming resistant to treatment &ndash in fact, over the past five years, treatment levels have gone down, as have lice counts.

While the industry is involved in research for the development of closed containment systems, currently no commercially-viable method has been found. Companies continue to work with environmental groups and researchers to find a solution.

"This is a highly regulated industry that is continually improving," said Ms Walling. "BC's salmon farmers are coastal residents who want to see wild salmon protected. To be truly successful, industry has to be accountable to the environment, economy and communities."

The BC salmon farming industry employs roughly 6,000 people directly and indirectly, contributing C$800-million to the provincial economy. Farmed salmon is the province's largest agricultural export – and BC's fish farms are the world's most highly-regulated aquaculture operations.

To support the principle of protecting salmon stocks for the long-term health of the environment and citizens, BC Salmon Farmers will be making a donation to the Heart and Stroke Foundation, in honour of the committed people participating in the down-Island walk.