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Pure Salmon gets International Herald Tribune exposure: Opinion piece

Written By: John M Mulcahy
On Date: 29/6/2006

Andrea Kavanagh, who directs the Pure Salmon Campaign at the National Environmental Trust, Washington, got an article published yesterday (June 27th) in the Opinion column of the International Herald Tribune.The article uses the recent trip to Norway made by Pure Salmon representatives (including Don Staniford) together with two First Nation leaders from BC, Canada, “a labor activist from Chile, a marine conservationist from Scotland” to Pan Fish AGM in May.

[…] “contrary to what some in both the environmental and business communities might have expected, the shareholders took a significant step toward building a foundation for sustainable and safe salmon farming.” […]
Click Here to view the full article:
The International Herald Tribune, 27th June 2006
Fish farms that don't harm
Andrea Kavanagh
What happens when two Canadian First Nations chiefs, a labor activist from Chile, a marine conservationist from Scotland and representatives from a U.S. environmental advocacy group attend the annual board meeting of one of the world's largest salmon producers?

This happened recently in Norway and the result wasn't a joke, but rather a series of conversations that could go a long way towards combating a daunting environmental and health challenge that impacts millions of people.

As wild salmon stocks have decreased around the globe, the salmon-farming industry has grown from 55,000 tons produced in 1985 to more than 1.5 million tons in 2003. Salmon farms can now be found from the bays of British Columbia to the fjords of Norway. But while this increase in production has made it easy for consumers to put cheap salmon on their plates, large salmon farms create serious environmental problems.

Waste from millions of captive salmon at fish farms empties directly into the ocean, polluting the water with untreated sewage, toxic chemicals, uneaten fish feed and other wastes. In Canada alone, salmon farms discharge more than 10,000 tons of uneaten food annually. Escaped salmon - about three million globally per year, according to recent studies - interbreed with and often compete for food with already endangered populations of wild salmon. But perhaps most troubling is the impact that current salmon- farming practices have on efforts to stabilize depleted and endangered fish stocks around the globe.

Carnivorous by nature, farmed salmon need to eat wild fish and shellfish such as sardines, mackerel, shrimp and krill. For every pound of farmed salmon produced, the industry requires several pounds of wild fish, normally in the form of a specially ground fishmeal. In other words, the more farmed salmon produced, the more sardines and other fish removed from the sea and from dinner plates. Farmed salmon, thereby, not only directly compete with other marine life for our diminishing valuable marine resources, but also with people around the world as well.

To raise awareness of these problems, the National Environmental Trust's Pure Salmon Campaign brought together a diverse group of stakeholders from Canada, Chile, Scotland and the United States to speak directly to shareholders of Pan Fish, the world's largest producer of farmed salmon, at their recent annual general meeting in Oslo. These stakeholders gave first-hand perspectives on how Pan Fish's salmon farming operations export environmental problems and poor labor conditions to other countries.

Corporate representatives also were presented with a shareholder resolution instructing the board to take immediate steps to lessen the environmental problems associated with salmon farming. And contrary to what some in both the environmental and business communities might have expected, the shareholders took a significant step toward building a foundation for sustainable and safe salmon farming.

Instead of summarily dismissing the array of environmental, labor and health problems associated with current salmon aquaculture practices, Pan Fish's shareholders directed the board to further review the resolution and continue the conversation on how to resolve environmental problems associated with salmon farming around the globe.

Similar action was recently taken by shareholders of the salmon aquaculture companies Fjord and Cermaq. This breakthrough - representing nearly half of all interests in the global salmon-farming industry altogether - could prove to be an important watershed in efforts to reform the salmon aquaculture industry.

The challenges facing our oceans from overfishing and unsustainable aquaculture practices are nothing to laugh at. Over the past several years, fishing fleets have annually removed more than 180 billion pounds of fish worldwide, and scores of once plentiful fish populations around the globe are being caught and processed faster than they can reproduce. Through the use of new technologies, global aquaculture operations can help our wild fish stocks.

Salmon can be farmed safely and with minimal ecological damage, using such innovations as closed containment and soy-based feeds. And industry and advocacy groups need not always be at loggerheads.

Working together and across borders, leaders from the seafood industry, restaurant owners, scientists, concerned citizens and representatives from the conservation community can solve the current problems surrounding salmon aquaculture production.

Our oceans are a shared legacy that defies international borders. Responsible stewardship of our oceans is an investment that will pay dividends for generations to come.

Andrea Kavanagh directs the Pure Salmon Campaign at the National Environmental Trust, Washington.

For more information on the Pure Salmon Campaign's visit to Norway (including photos) please see:

See also:

“Indianerfrykt for Pan Fish” (Stavanger Aftenblad, 31st May 2006):"Fritt Ord drops Pan Fish stake: The highly respected Freedom of Expression Foundation in Oslo (Fritt Ord) has sold off its holdings in seafood giant Pan Fish, because of its concerns over Pan Fish's fish-farming operations in Canada and Chile" (Aftenposten, 30th May 2006):
“Indianere protesterer mot Pan Fish” (Stavanger Aftenblad, 30th May 2006):
"Fredriksen er havets syndebukk: Indianere og miljøaktivister raser mot Fredriksens lakseeventyr Pan Fish" (Nettavisen, 29th May 2006):

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