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Self-Policing - Best Way to Protect Wild Salmon

CANADA - A self-policing system will help preserve Canda's wild fish stocks and enhance its global competitiveness, says a leading scientist.

"The answer is a production system that regulates itself," says John Volpe, a University of Victoria biologist.

In an article for Ontario's Business Edge, he says that third-party policing strategies do not work. And, although the BC government recently issued an indefinite moratorium on applications and licences for open-net salmon farms in northern coastal waters, Volpe says it will not make a difference to the plight of wild salmon in more southern waters, nor benefit consumers.

"It telegraphs a positive message. However, it's rather hollow in what it's actually providing. There were no plans (for new salmon farms) in the area that has been set aside," he adds.

Volpe, who contributed to a study that found wild-salmon mortality rates range from nine to 95 per cent depending on the amount of sea lice present on a farm, says a self-policing production system would penalize bad decisions through reduced profitability. He says that the only way to currently maintain profitability is to exploit fish stocks to the maximum while reducing production costs

Ian Roberts, a spokesman for Campbell River-based Marine Harvest Canada, the country's largest aquaculture company, says the industry is actually helping to reduce pressure on wild stocks.

"We produce 80,000 tonnes (of farmed salmon) in the industry a year in BC. I believe that is a benefit to wild stocks," says

Marine Harvest Canada has also taken out newspaper ads that claim lice are minimal on its fish.

View the Business Edge story by clicking here.

Ellen Hardy

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