Election promises about land-based salmon farming are nonsense

Atlantic salmon farmers have one word for the Liberal Party and Green Party election promises to move all ocean-based salmon farms in British Columbia to land-based closed containment systems by 2025: Nonsense.

The lack of knowledge behind these election promises is quite astonishing, especially from two parties that claim to be serious about taking action on climate change. Even if it were possible to move all ocean-based farms to land by 2025 (which it’s not because the technology does not exist on that scale), such a move would bring significant environmental, fish health welfare concerns and devastating socio-economic damage in rural coastal communities.

Our salmon farmers are experts in closed containment because their fish spend more than half their lives in land-based hatcheries where water recirculation systems are used. Land-based technology continues to evolve (salmon farmers are the ones driving that innovation!), but at this point, the evidence is clear: the ocean is the best place for that final stage for salmon to grow from smolts to market size – just as they do in nature. Those who advocate moving all salmon farms from the ocean onto land need to realize that the practice of growing salmon to full maturity in tanks poses very real challenges. To grow salmon to market size and meet the global demand would require massive amounts of land, water and energy. And most importantly there are animal welfare considerations.

 Just a few statistics to consider:

ENERGY

  • 2 billion kgs of salmon (world production) grown on land-based farms would produce 526 billion kgs greenhouse gas emissions

  • Growing the global supply of salmon on land would require the same amount of energy per year needed to power a city of 1.2 million people

WATER AND LAND USE

  • Growing 75,000 MT of salmon (British Columbia’s average production) grown at 18kg/m3 in a 99% RAS system would require 4.16 billion litres of freshwater just to fill the tanks.

  • 10 day required depuration period before harvest would require an additional 998 billion litres of freshwater

  • The current production in Canada alone would require 28,000 Canadian football fields, 33,719 acres, or 159 square kilometers of land to grow fish in appropriate densities in land-based systems.

  • Freshwater is our most important resource – do we really want to move a sustainable sea base industry to land and increase demand on our freshwater resources? Goal Six of the United Nations Sustainability Goals speaks to the conservation of freshwater and ensuring access to freshwater globally. When you can grow salmon sustainable at sea, moving to land and using more of our freshwater resources is irresponsible.

FISH WELFARE

  • Marine farms: density of 15 - 25kg of fish per cubic metre at their peak size. Land based farms: density of 50 - 80kg of fish per cubic metre at their peak size. That makes for really crowded land-based tanks.

  • Marine based salmon farming allows salmon to remain in their natural environment. This is where they belong for the end of their grow out, not in land based artificial fish factories.

  • Land based facilities do not eliminate environmental or disease concerns. Pathogens in land-based systems have caused the loss of all fish in some facilities.

SOCIO ECONOMIC REALITIES

  • Some small-scale land-based farms are producing fully-grown salmon for niche markets, and the reality is, the largest of these produces only 300MT per year. By comparison, Canada produces on average 108,000MT per year.

  • Land based indoor salmon farms are more than three times as expensive to operate as traditional ocean salmon farms.

  • Increased use of land-based farms would encourage the relocation of production closer to the main markets. This would have a major socio-economic impact on coastal communities around the world.

Atlantic salmon is one of the most energy efficient farmed animals; its carbon footprint is far smaller than other protein production methods (i.e. beef, chicken, pork, sheep) even when you consider that seafood is transported over longer distances to market than other proteins. Decades of peer-reviewed research show that salmon farms have little long-term impact on the marine environment. Salmon farmed in the ocean is a top food choice for those who are concerned about climate change and want to reduce their environmental impact.

These election promises amount to nothing more than an attempt to pander for votes to a vocal minority who oppose salmon farming in British Columbia. Here on the east coast, the majority of Atlantic Canadians support salmon farming; consumer polling consistently shows over 80 per cent support for salmon farming. We know that salmon farming is a responsible, sustainable and innovative means to provide adequate food supply to meet the world’s population growth while helping to reduce the pressure on wild fish stocks. The Atlantic coast’s abundant natural ocean environment makes it one of the best locations in the world to farm fish, especially Atlantic salmon, in an environmentally sustainable way.

We are calling on all federal election candidates to stand up for Canada’s salmon farming industry by publicly rejecting these campaign promises and acknowledging the important role fish farming plays in our coastal communities. Salmon farming is one of our best hopes to bring more prosperity to the Atlantic coast while sustainably growing healthy seafood. Fish farming represents one of our region’s brightest sectors.

We await your answer before we cast our votes.

Susan Farquharson
Executive Director
Atlantic Canada Fish Farmers Association

Media statement: Salmon farmers are already transparent about escapes

Statements made this week by the Atlantic Salmon Federation (ASF) about the transparency of reporting farmed salmon escapes and the potential risks involved with escapes cannot go unchallenged.

Salmon farmers do not want to lose a single fish. Their fish are their livelihood. When escapes do happen, they are largely a result of extreme weather events. Occasionally escapes are due to equipment malfunction or human error when fish are being handled (i.e. harvesting, fish health inspections). Salmon farmers are already transparent about escapes. When escapes happen, New Brunswick salmon farming companies voluntarily report it to the provincial regulator, who in turn notifies numerous groups, including the ASF, that are members of the NB Aquaculture Containment Liaison Committee. Other members include the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, the NB Department of Agriculture, Aquaculture and Fisheries, salmon producers, the NB Conservation Council and the NB Salmon Council. The NB Aquaculture Containment Liaison Committee communicates regularly. This week, the group discussed adding other groups on a case-by-case basis that may wish to be informed of an escape for a specific reason.

ASF spokesperson Neville Crabbe stated in the media this week that: “When you have spawning that’s occurring between aquaculture escapees and wild fish, you are wiping away potentially 10,000 years of evolution in a single spawning event.”

We reject that hyperbole. ASF knows full well that farmed salmon are very poorly suited to survival in the wild or reproductive success. Fearmongering about potential evolutionary disaster after a small escape does a disservice to the collaborative efforts between salmon farmers and the members of the NB Aquaculture Containment Liaison Committee. Mr. Crabbe’s comments also conveniently ignore any potential impacts of over 100 years of Atlantic salmon enhancement efforts, including ASF’s own sea ranching project in the 1970s and 80s that saw large releases of a variety of salmon strains into rivers and estuaries.

Salmon farming began – with ASF as a partner – as a way to address the decline of the commercial and recreational fishery for Atlantic salmon.  Salmon farming is a responsible, sustainable and innovative means to provide adequate food supply to meet the world’s population growth while helping to reduce the pressure on wild fish stocks. Our farming practices and technology continue to evolve. Fish containment will always be a top priority as will our wild salmon conservation and enhancement efforts. Farmers work with a wide variety of partners, including First Nations, as part of the innovative Fundy Salmon Recovery project that is now seeing inner Bay of Fundy salmon return to one river in Fundy National Park in unprecedented numbers. (fundysalmonrecovery.com)

Susan Farquharson
Executive Director
Atlantic Canada Fish Farmers Association

LEARN ABOUT SALMON FARMING ON 2019 OPEN FARM DAY

The Atlantic Canada Fish Farmers Association, on behalf of local salmon farmers, will offer two guided farm tours on New Brunswick Open Farm Day, Sunday, September 15, 2019, to give the public an opportunity to learn about salmon farming.

“Enjoy some time on the beautiful Bay of Fundy as you discover how Atlantic salmon is farmed. Salmon farming is always evolving and has changed significantly in the 40 years since it began in our province. These popular tours are a tremendous way to learn about our innovative and sustainable sector and to celebrate New Brunswick seafood,” says Susan Farquharson, Executive Director of the Atlantic Canada Fish Farmers’ Association.

The salmon farm tours, on an Island Quest Marine vessel, will take place on Sunday, September 15, 2019.  The tours (approximately two hours each) start at 11:00AM and 2:00PM (weather permitting). The tours will leave from the main wharf in St. Andrews (205 Water Street). The tours will be filled on a first come, first served basis. Call (506) 755-3526 for reservations. Space is limited. Cost is $10 per person with proceeds to go to a local charity; children 12 and under are free. Participants must be present 15 minutes before departure.

ACFFA representatives will be onboard to provide an overview of the salmon aquaculture industry and to answer questions about our operations. Participants will also get the chance to sample some delicious Atlantic salmon.

The Atlantic Canada Fish Farmers Association (ACFFA) is an industry-funded association working on behalf of Atlantic Canada’s salmon farming industry in addition to a wide range of service and supply companies and organizations. Salmon farming employs over 3500 people in our region and has a value of over $400 million to provincial economies.

For more information, please contact:
Susan Farquharson, Executive Director
Ph: 506-755-3526
Email: info@atlanticfishfarmers.com

Planning to see ‘Artifishal’? Then you should plan to visit a salmon farm too.

Tonight, international outdoor apparel company Patagonia will host the first of four New Brunswick screenings of its film “Artifishal”. The film questions the role of hatcheries in supplementing recreational and commercial salmon and trout fisheries in the Pacific Northwest and is critical of salmon aquaculture.

The ACFFA has not had the opportunity to view the film, but based on reviews from our colleagues in other countries who have seen it, we know that it does not accurately portray modern salmon farming nor does it include the perspective of anyone involved in commercial aquaculture. The film is one-sided and clouded by anti-salmon farming prejudice as well as Patagonia’s corporate marketing goals.

Modern salmon farming is an industry to celebrate and nurture for our region’s challenging future. More than 50 per cent of the seafood consumed today comes from aquaculture, and the demand will continue to grow as the population increases. As arable land and freshwater resources shrink, terrestrial farming alone cannot feed that population. Aquaculture is a crucial, science-based and sustainable way to help supply the world’s food needs and take the pressure off wild stocks. Atlantic Canada is already a global leader in this incredible sector which produces over 300 million salmon meals, 3,500 direct jobs and contributes $400 million directly to the economy.

By almost all measures, farmed Atlantic salmon is the most sustainable large-scale animal protein:

• Best in turning feed into edible product

• Best in fresh water use

• Best in carbon emissions

• Best in space use efficiency

• Unlike almost all other animal production sectors, there is public (DFO) reporting and transparency on animal health treatments and farm practices

• High space/water to fish ratio: approximately 98% water to 2% fish

• Required fallowing (resting) of sites after production for biological renewal

Salmon farmers are always evolving their farming practices, and our companies invest millions of dollars annually into research and development to do just that. Meaningful and productive conversations about salmon farming must be based on facts – not on biased films brought into our province by those with a well-known anti-salmon farming agenda.

It is also important to point out that ACFFA members support a variety of programs aimed at conserving our wild marine and freshwater resources. Salmon farming started as a result of the lessons learned in wild salmon rehabilitation, enhancement and salmon ranching activities. Our members work with conservation organizations to apply new technology to rehabilitation efforts throughout the Atlantic region, including the award-winning Fundy Salmon Recovery project that is seeing remarkable success in helping inner Bay of Fundy salmon.

To those who decide to view the film, we invite you to also visit a salmon farm and to talk to farmers and others who work in the salmon farming industry. We also encourage you to take the time to consider other perspectives by reading our factsheets on salmon farming in Atlantic Canada, this post from the Global Aquaculture Alliance and this review in SeaWest News.

Susan Farquharson
Executive Director
Atlantic Canada Fish Farmers Association

THE BEST CONVERSATIONS ABOUT AQUACULTURE ARE BASED ON FACTS

I love chatting with pretty much anyone about aquaculture. There’s always something new to talk about and plenty of perspectives to consider.

But if we truly want to have meaningful and productive conversations about salmon farming, they must be based on facts. One of the most common criticisms against salmon farming is the accusation that farms negatively impact lobster populations. The numbers, however, tell an important story.

In 2017 in Atlantic Canada, we saw the highest lobster landings ever recorded. Fishermen hauled in 97,452 MT of lobster, which is more than double the 47,853 MT caught in 1990. For nearly 30 years, Atlantic Canadian lobster landings have been on a steady upswing, including in Nova Scotia. In fact, in 2017, Nova Scotia fishermen caught 49,931 MT of lobster – the second highest amount since 1990. Atlantic Canada’s lobster boom is good news for everyone. Fisheries and Oceans landings data is a primary indicator of lobster abundance in the region. And now, we’ve got more science-based research to add to the conversation.

Lobster Landings - Fisheries and Oceans Canada.jpg

Last month the results of a multi-year project that studied the lobster population under and around a salmon farm in Grand Manan, NB was published in the Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences. The most in-depth examination of its kind, this peer-reviewed study found that aquaculture operations had no impact on lobster abundance, size or growth. The Atlantic Canada Fish Farmers Association provided funding to support the study and Dr. Jon Grant, NSERC-Cooke Industrial Research Chair in Sustainable Aquaculture at Dalhousie University collated and prepared the data for submission and publication.  

As part of the study, divers visited a sample area under a salmon farm off Grand Manan in 2008, a year before the farm opened to establish a baseline and returned every August and September for eight years. The study was conducted over two production cycles at the farm, which used approved treatments for sea lice and included a fallow period and an expansion from 10,000 to 336,000 fish. An identical survey was conducted about a kilometer outside the farm as a reference location. At the end of the study, divers had counted 1,255 lobsters inside the farm and 1,171 outside.

"In both cases, whether it was on the farm or off the farm, over those eight years the abundance of lobsters went up. A lot. By 100 per cent or more. And there was no difference in those lobsters in any way — in their size, in their sex or their abundance, whether on or off the fish farm," Dr. Grant told CBC News.

All those facts are important to the aquaculture conversation. Our farmers know that pristine water is essential for growing high quality fish, so they follow the highest fish health management standards, use the best science and more than 40 years of farming experience to grow healthy, nutritious salmon. They rely on in-house veterinarians, biologists, oceanographic specialists as well as advice and oversight from provincial and federal regulators to develop best practices for fish health management, bio-security, and area management strategies that support responsible fish health and welfare standards.

 We look forward to seeing more facts added to the conversation as a result of field work by the NS Department of Fisheries and Aquaculture and the Université Sainte-Anne Laboratory of Innovation in Science and Industry. Their field work will investigate fishermen’s concerns about and perceptions of the impact of finfish aquaculture on lobsters and lobster fishing communities in Nova Scotia documented in phase one of the study in 2015.

 Modern salmon farming is an industry to celebrate and nurture for our region’s challenging future. Grasping its full potential in Atlantic Canada will take a collaborative approach that balances environmental, social and economic priorities. As always, our farmers will rely on the best science and technology to inform their decisions – just as it should be. I encourage everyone to seek out the facts on salmon aquaculture rather than relying on perceptions.  https://www.atlanticfishfarmers.com/factsheets

Susan Farquharson
Executive Director
Atlantic Canada Fish Farmers Association

CANADA’S VISION FOR AQUACULTURE MUST SUPPORT FARMERS AND RECOGNIZE OUR DIVERSE COASTS

As Ottawa moves forward with plans to support the continued sustainable growth of Canada’s aquaculture industry, Atlantic Canadian salmon farmers call on Department of Fisheries and Oceans Minister Jonathan Wilkinson and other federal officials to recognize the diverse coastal, cultural and regulatory environments in which we operate.

Statements made last week by Minister Wilkinson in British Columbia highlight the need for the federal government to designate an agency that formally has the mandate to support the growth of the seafood farming sector, as with other farming sectors. This will allow the Department of Fisheries and Oceans to continue to protect Canada’s oceans while placing the country in the forefront of ocean management and aquaculture development globally.

We reject the assumption that removing salmon farms from coastal BC waters will save wild Pacific salmon. It’s a simplistic notion that is not based in scientific evidence and does a disservice to the identification of the complex issues facing wild salmon on the west coast. The fact is, no one really knows exactly why wild Pacific salmon populations are fluctuating. The Cohen Commission listed more than 20 activities affecting pacific salmon, including climate change (marine and fresh water), loss of habitat, predators, non-point sources of contaminants, forestry, and cumulative effects.

Atlantic Canadian salmon farmers are leading the way in wild Atlantic salmon conservation activities, such as partnering in the Fundy Salmon Recovery Program with First Nations and all levels of government.

Aquaculture is a responsible, sustainable and innovative means to provide adequate food supply to meet the world’s population growth while helping to reduce the pressure on wild fish stocks. The Atlantic coast’s abundant natural ocean environment makes it one of the best locations in the world to farm fish, especially Atlantic salmon, in an environmentally sustainable way. Our aquaculture professionals know that pristine seawater is essential for the production of healthy, high quality salmon, and they follow the highest farm management best practices to protect the ocean and the health of their fish.

Atlantic Canadian salmon farmers continue to reiterate that any legislative or policy changes need to recognize coastal uniqueness and provincial/federal regulatory jurisdiction while enabling the innovative advancement of our Canadian aquaculture Industry.

We support Fisheries and Oceans Canada plans to adopt a Bay Management approach on the west coast. Atlantic Canadian salmon farmers pioneered the world-renowned Bay Management approach and have implemented this best practice since 2005. Atlantic Canada’s regulatory regime – including its siting process – is overseen by provincial governments. Each province’s process involves a rigorous review by several government agencies and consultation with community stakeholders including First Nations. 

Our farmers recognize the diversity of the areas in which they farm their fish; they understand that each coastal area and each province requires different environmental and regulatory conditions in which to operate.

Susan Farquharson
Executive Director

STATEMENT: AQUACULTURE ACT FOR CANADA

No region in the world is better poised than Atlantic Canada to reap the benefits of aquaculture’s potential and revitalize its rural, coastal communities. We have an abundant natural ocean environment that provides optimal conditions for the well-being of farmed fish and ever-evolving practices that ensure the sustainability of the ocean environment. We also have dedicated and hardworking people who want to continue in their centuries-old family tradition of working on the water.

 Ottawa’s announcement this week based on the decision of the Canadian Council of Fisheries and Aquaculture Ministers (CCFAM) to move forward with an Aquaculture Act is significant. It acknowledges the important role our federal government needs to play to support the sustainable growth of our sector. Atlantic Canadian seafood is highly desired around the world, and our region has an important role to play in producing healthy protein to help feed a growing population. Aquaculture is one of Canada’s most promising sectors, but its potential will not be realized without a modern and updated legislative framework to support its sustainable growth.

Canada is the only nation among its major international competitors to not have a stand-alone, modern act to govern aquaculture. Instead, Canada’s sector is regulated by multiple federal and provincial agencies, often with overlapping mandates. At the federal level, aquaculture is governed by the 150-year old Fisheries Act, that was created at the time of Confederation when aquaculture did not exist. It does not even mention the word “aquaculture”.  The Act’s mandate is “conservation & management” and does not consider ocean fish farming as an activity. As a result, the Department of Fisheries and Ocean’s actions are consistently dominated by regulating the sector rather than enabling the sector for growth.

We support the development of an Aquaculture Act that respects all current federal, provincial and territorial jurisdictions, while avoiding duplication of processes. Such an act would provide the sector with a modern and coherent regulatory framework that protects the public interest, is evidence-based, efficient, predictable and accountable. While the Department of Fisheries and Oceans must retain its regulatory and constitutional responsibility, Canada must designate an agency that formally has the mandate to support the growth of the seafood farming sector, as with other farming sectors. This will allow the Department of Fisheries and Oceans to continue to protect Canada’s oceans while placing the country in the forefront of ocean management and aquaculture development globally.

Our sector always has – and will continue to be – grounded in innovation and sound science. We look forward to hearing more details about the study on alternative aquaculture technologies to be carried out with Sustainable Development Technology Canada and the province of British Columbia. The move toward area-based management plans is not surprising. Atlantic Canada’s world-renowned area-based approach started in 2005 and is used as a model in many other jurisdictions.

Our salmon farming companies and other member companies will continue to work as partners in wild fish protection while growing long term jobs in rural communities within the aquaculture sector.

We look forward to working with the federal and provincial governments, aquaculture professionals, and other ocean stakeholders as this process evolves.

 Susan Farquharson
Executive Director

Fish feed pioneer honoured with 2018 Atlantic Canada Aquaculture Award

ACFFA’s Charity Casino Gala raises $2000 for Charlotte County Cancer Society

Alan Donkin of Moncton is the recipient of the 2018 Atlantic Canada Aquaculture Award in recognition of his long-time commitment to the success and growth of this region’s salmon farming industry.

Skretting International and Northeast Nutrition co-sponsored the 2018 award and presented it to Donkin at ACFFA’s Charity Casino Gala this week in St. Andrews. The event raised $2,000.00 for the Charlotte County Cancer Society.

“Alan Donkin is one of the unsung heroes of our region’s aquaculture industry. He’s helped drive significant innovations in fish nutrition since the industry began 40 years ago,” says Tom Taylor, Chair of the Atlantic Canada Fish Farmers Association (ACFFA). “His professionalism, commitment, loyalty, integrity and passion for this industry truly deserve to be recognized and we’re proud that he is the 2018 recipient of this award.”

Originally from Truro, Donkin’s family was involved in the dairy business. He graduated from the Nova Scotia Agricultural College and McGill University (animal science). He started with Shur-Gain in 1978 and was part of the team tasked with developing salmon feed in 1985 when the industry was just getting started. Donkin worked for Shur-Grain for 30 years. He joined Cooke Aquaculture in 2008 as Nutrition Manager at Northeast Nutrition.

“Alan has been an integral part of the innovation in fish nutrition since this industry began. He’s a humble man of few words, but his impact on the aquaculture sector has been significant and important,” says David Seeley, ACFFA Board Member.

Approximately 170 salmon farmers, industry stakeholders, scientists, researchers, provincial and federal government representatives, and community members gathered in St. Andrews this week for ACFFA’s 2018 Aquaculture, Research, Science and Technology Forum at the Huntsman Fundy Discovery Centre. Conference participants heard presentations on a wide range of topics, including off-shore farming, engaging youth in salmon farming, Fundy Salmon Recovery, fish health, green alternative technology and the role of eDNA in aquaculture.

“It’s such a pleasure and an honour to be part of such an impressive, vibrant and evolving industry,” said Donkin. “Aquaculture industry is and continues to be the most exciting industry for me to work in with all the advancements in salmon feed, nutrition and production.

Like all other parts of our industry, progress in fish nutrition has been rapid and science-based. Our feed is sustainably sourced, nutritionally sound and widely diversified. We should take great pride in the wide variety of feed ingredients we use that are sourced from byproducts of other human food industries.”

The Atlantic Canada Fish Farmers’ Association (ACFFA) established the Atlantic Canada Aquaculture Award last year to mark its 30th anniversary. At ACFFA’s annual general meeting, the Board of Directors elected Tom Taylor from Cooke Aquaculture as Chair and Jamie Gaskill of Marine Harvest/Northern Harvest as Vice-Chair.

The Atlantic Canada Fish Farmers Association (ACFFA) is an industry-funded association working on behalf of Atlantic Canada’s salmon farming industry in addition to a wide range of service and supply companies and organizations. Salmon farming employs over 3000 people in our region and has a value of over $350 million to provincial economies.

 For more information, please contact:
Susan Farquharson, Executive Director
Ph: 506-755-3526
Email: info@atlanticfishfarmers.com

Recovery efforts result in historic number of returns of inner Bay of Fundy Atlantic Salmon in 2018

Alma, NB – Fundy Salmon Recovery (FSR) released over 600 wild endangered inner Bay of Fundy (iBoF) Atlantic salmon into the Upper Salmon River in Fundy National Park today as part of its ground-breaking, collaborative recovery program.

Project partners and community members gathered in the national park to celebrate the homecoming of these Atlantic salmon and the on-going conservation work which this year marked the return of over 70 salmon to the national park. This is a 29-year-high in salmon returns to the Upper Salmon River, higher than most rivers of inner Bay of Fundy population.

The fish released today had been collected from the Upper Salmon River as juveniles and grown to maturity in the ocean environment on the world’s first wild Atlantic Salmon Marine Conservation Site in Dark Harbour, managed by Cooke Aquaculture. Research has shown that salmon with the most exposure to wild conditions have a better chance of survival than fish that spend more time in captivity. Fort Folly First Nation is leading recovery efforts on the Petitcodiac River system; today’s release in Fundy National Park follows the release of 128 wild salmon into the Petitcodiac River by Fort Folly Habitat Recovery earlier this month. Scientists are already seeing positive results in these rivers because of this innovative approach.

Monitoring shows that multiple age classes of wild-hatched juvenile salmon are once again present throughout the Upper Salmon River and Petitcodiac River. Research by University of New Brunswick scientist, Dr. Kurt Samways, shows that river ecosystem productivity has significantly improved due to marine nutrients attributed to the presence of high numbers of adult salmon. This research suggests that this increased productivity translates to improved feeding and survival conditions for juvenile salmon that would not exist without the nutrient input.

Through its collaborative recovery model, Fundy Salmon Recovery is looking to change the fate for Atlantic salmon in the inner Bay of Fundy and to provide a model that will aid conservation efforts around the world. Collaborating partners in Fundy Salmon Recovery are Parks Canada, Cooke Aquaculture, Atlantic Canada Fish Farmers Association, Fort Folly First Nation, the Province of New Brunswick, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, the University of New Brunswick, the Atlantic Salmon Law Enforcement Coalition and the Village of Grand Manan.

This year’s historic iBoF salmon returns are an excellent start to 2019’s International Year of the Salmon; Fundy Salmon Recovery looks forward to celebrating the iconic Atlantic Salmon with special events in 2019, including an adult fish release event at Fort Folly First Nation next fall.

QUOTES

“We are pleased to be a partner in Fundy Salmon Recovery and leading this work on the Petitcodiac River, a river that was, and still is, so important to the salmon, the Bay and my community. I am looking forward to the future of this project, and hold this work up as an example of meaningful collaboration between the federal government & First Nations people and an opportunity for reconciliation.”

Rebecca Knockwood
Chief, Fort Folly First Nation

“Wild Atlantic salmon are incredibly important to our region, to our environment, to our people and our culture. The success of the Fundy Salmon Recovery collaboration is an ideal model for action oriented, science-based conservation efforts to save our Atlantic salmon in other New Brunswick rivers like the Miramichi. Seeing the fish return to their native waters is a tremendous achievement that we are all proud of.”

Glenn Cooke
CEO, Cooke Aquaculture

“The University of New Brunswick prides itself on its quality academic programs and being a leader in innovative research. Being a part of Fundy Salmon Recovery has the power to develop leading conservation experts and the next generation of biologists, ecologists and conservationists, while providing the opportunity to change the outcome for this critically endangered species.”

Dr. Kurt Samways
Research Associate, University of New Brunswick

“The Government of Canada is very proud to actively work with its many partners to monitor and restore ecosystems, protect species at risk, and expand our knowledge of biodiversity and climate change. Parks Canada’s role as a key partner with the Fundy Salmon Recovery team and the team’s winning efforts to protect the inner Bay of Fundy Atlantic salmon in Fundy National Park and its surrounding ecosystems demonstrates the Government of Canada’s ongoing commitment to conservation.”

Alaina Lockhart,
Parliamentary Secretary for Tourism, Official Languages and La Francophonie and Member of Parliament for Fundy Royal

Quick Facts

· The inner Bay of Fundy population of salmon has been listed as endangered under the Species at Risk Act since 2003. In an effort to save this declining population, some of the last remaining wild salmon of Fundy National Park were collected for “live gene banking”. This has protected the unique genetic lineage of this population which would have otherwise been lost.

· Fundy Salmon Recovery is working on two inner Bay of Fundy Rivers and the release in Fundy National Park follows the release of salmon into the Petitcodiac River system by Fort Folly Habitat Recovery.

· Wild endangered salmon are grown to maturity on the world’s first marine conservation farm dedicated to wild Atlantic salmon at Dark Harbour on Grand Manan Island, NB. Cooke Aquaculture operates and maintains the farm with assistance from the Atlantic Canada Fish Farmers Association.

· Salmon are health tested in the rivers and on the conservation farm by Province of New Brunswick veterinarians for introductions and transfers permits, with routine monitoring and surveillance by Cooke veterinarians and fish health staff.

· To help ensure the protection of the Atlantic salmon during their freshwater life stage, local law enforcement agencies are working together as part of the Atlantic Salmon Law Enforcement Coalition. Together, the coalition has increased joint patrols and surveillance on inner Bay of Fundy rivers, especially those in which there are active recovery efforts.

· Parks Canada is proud to present the research and recovery successes of Fundy Salmon Recovery to the public. Through programs like “Swim with Salmon”, “Be a Biologist for a Day” and our partnerships with academic institutions, Canadians have a variety of ways to build their awareness of species at risk, and to connect to nature at Fundy National Park. In managing national parks, Parks Canada maintains or restores ecological integrity, and provides Canadians with opportunities to discover and enjoy them.

Contacts

Danielle Latendresse

Public Relations

danielle.latendresse@pc.gc.ca

506-381-0296

Susan Farquharson

Executive Director

Atlantic Canada Fish Farmers Association

s.farquharson@atlanticfishfarmers.com

506-755-3526

Wendy Epworth

Program Manager & Biologist

Fort Folly Habitat Recovery / Fort Folly First Nation

wendy.epworth@rogers.com

506-379-3401

Salmon farmers say DFO report on live gene bank is poor federal science

Atlantic Canadian salmon farmers would like to set the record straight on the recent Department of Fisheries and Oceans’ Canadian Science Advisory Secretariat review of the Inner Bay of Fundy (IBOF) Atlantic Salmon Live Gene Bank.

It’s disappointing that DFO is refusing to respond to media requests to answer questions about the report. It is our position that the conclusions are not supported by science and that the data upon which the report was based is incomplete. It is irresponsible to draw conclusions without scientific evidence to back them up.

Here are the facts:

Fact #1: First and most importantly, Atlantic salmon farmers farm only local strain salmon.

Fact #2: The DFO report notes the presence of European ancestry fish in the IBOF, but clearly states that a full analysis was not conducted and recommends it be done in order to accurately determine the source of any European fish. It is purely speculative to assume any European genetic material in wild Atlantic salmon came from our locally farmed fish. It is a well-known fact that genetic material from Atlantic Salmon of European origin is regularly found in wild salmon populations in Newfoundland and the Maritimes as part of naturally occurring drift of wild salmon populations in the North Atlantic.  Claims in this study that European genetic material found in salmon in this report originates from farmed sources are not supported by the science presented in the study.  

Fact #3: DFO did not ask farmers for genetic information to contribute to this report, and industry researchers or scientists were not asked to participate on the working group to review the data before its release, even though the report was finished a year ago.

Fact #4: The CSAS report in its current form is riddled with uncertainty and as such, the interpretations assigning origins of genetic material made by the Atlantic Salmon Federation are unfounded and not based on sound science.

Atlantic salmon farmers call on DFO to retract the report and work with stakeholders to conduct appropriate research to address the incomplete science and long list of uncertainties evident in this report. Our farmers will gladly participate in fact-based, scientifically valid research to address this report and to contribute towards a better understanding of wild salmon populations in the areas in which we farm.

Technology has advanced tremendously, and we are now able to look into the genetic codes of all living things. The technology now exists to provide a complete picture of the origins of the salmon in this study. We advocate that this be completed, rather than irresponsibly speculate and draw conclusions based upon incomplete data and poor scientific study design.

Susan Farquharson
Executive Director
Atlantic Canada Fish Farmers Association
info@atlanticfishfarmers.com
506-755-3526

We must work together to solve the “super wicked problem” of wild Atlantic salmon decline

A lovely drawing of a salmon farm hangs on the wall of my office in our association’s building at our Limekiln Wharf Service Centre. I am always struck by the plaque beneath it which reads: Presented to the New Brunswick Salmon Growers’ Association by the Atlantic Salmon Federation (1991).

It’s a remarkable reminder of the fact that conservationists, researchers, governments and salmon farmers have a long history of working together. In fact, salmon farming started as the result of lessons learned in wild Atlantic salmon rehabilitation. Atlantic salmon were already on the decline in the mid-1980s when the Atlantic Salmon Federation, the research community and budding salmon farmers began working together to find a way to preserve the species.

No one questions the need to preserve this iconic “King of Fish” that is recognized by scientists as well as First Nations as a keystone species, important to the overall marine and freshwater ecology. Endeared for cultural, spiritual and environmental reasons, the Atlantic salmon is revered by fly fishermen - including my husband - who wait every year to see if they can access a license to visit their favorite river to partake in the recreational catch and release of nearly 200,000 (2017) fish in the North Atlantic area.

Some like to point the finger at salmon farming; but, the fact is no one really knows why there has been a continual decline of the Atlantic Salmon in most if not all of their native countries. The Cohen Commission was focused on the West coast and Sockeye salmon (http://www.farmfreshsalmon.org/sites/default/files/Volume%202%20CP32-93-2012-2-eng.pdf); however, it was touted as being transferrable to Atlantic Salmon in its evaluation of impacts. This report listed more than 20 activities affecting salmon, including climate change (marine and fresh water), loss of habitat, predators, non-point sources of contaminants, forestry, and cumulative effects. Yet, salmon aquaculture is often held up as the big threat with some arguing that if all salmon farms were just moved to land we’d see Atlantic salmon recovery. It’s human nature to aim for low hanging fruit when trying to tackle a problem that we care deeply about, but that approach never solves anything, and salmon farming is not to blame for the decline of wild salmon.

The fact is climate change is real and because it is considered a “super wicked problem” it defies resolution because of the enormous interdependencies, uncertainties, circularities, and conflicting stakeholders implicated by any effort to develop a solution (http://www.lawschool.cornell.edu/research/cornell-law-review/upload/Lazarus.pdf). The decline of Atlantic salmon is also a “super wicked problem” without a simple solution.

Everyone operating in our marine or freshwater environments is guilty of leaving a footprint. Compared to most other activities, aquaculture leaves a relatively small footprint as we see in this recent independent study (https://www.zmescience.com/science/animal-protein-cost-119727/). Even so, aquaculture is continually improving. Our farmers are investing millions to reduce the fish time in the marine environment, to implement non-chemical treatment of sea lice and to develop new infeed and vaccine alternatives to raise healthy fish. They are also investing time and resources to support the recovery of wild Atlantic Salmon recovery in the inner Bay of Fundy, home to one of the most endangered salmon species in eastern North America. 

The Fundy Salmon Recovery project is an excellent example of wild Atlantic Salmon recovery that is working. That success would not be possible without the aquaculture industry working collaboratively with all levels of government, scientists and community stakeholders who understand the interdependencies that must be acknowledged especially when you are attempting single species conservation. (http://www.fundysalmonrecovery.com/farm-to-river-virtual-tour/).

Last year that project put nearly 1000 mature wild salmon back in the rivers of Fundy National Park and the Petitcodiac River system, and so far in 2018, more that 1900 wild and wild- exposed smolt have been transferred to the Wild Salmon Marine Conservation site owned by the Grand Manan Municipal Council and operated by Cooke Aquaculture to live out their marine exposure protected from predators and poachers. They too will go back into the rivers and the process of wild stock population growth will continue on those rivers. This important work to help preserve this species is working because it’s a respectful and collaborative partnership between diverse groups that have the shared goal of restoring wild salmon stocks. It is an excellent example of how scientists, conservationists, salmon farmers, First Nations and governments can use their combined expertise to have an impact on the recovery of an important species of fish that might not be possible otherwise.

I often look at that picture in my office and think about the opportunities for collaboration to help us solve the “super wicked problem” of Atlantic salmon decline. Aquaculture is a crucial and sustainable way to help supply the world’s food needs and also to help reduce the pressure on wild stocks. Salmon farmers are committed to making a difference in wild salmon conservation – and they want to work with any group that shares that goal. My door is always open!

Susan Farquharson
Executive Director

Atlantic Canada Fish Farmers Association

17.5 billion meals and 132,600 jobs

New Report Highlights Critical Value of Salmon Farming Globally

The global salmon farming industry continues to evolve sustainably, producing 17.5 billion meals every year and creating 132,600 jobs in coastal communities around the world, says a new report.

The International Salmon Farmers (ISFA) released its latest socio-economic report Salmon Farming: Sustaining Communities and Feeding the World today in conjunction with World Oceans Day.

“World Oceans Day gives us the chance to celebrate salmon farming’s vital role in a sustainable future for our oceans. Salmon farmers are growing even more healthy meals with a minimal environmental footprint, while increasing annual production and creating more jobs in coastal communities around the world,” says Trond Davidsen, President of the International Salmon Farmers Association

This report found that global salmon farmers produce 17.5 billion meals every year from only .00008 per cent of the world’s oceans. The report also shows the global salmon farming industry produces $15.4 billion (USD) worth of salmon each year, creates 132,600 direct and indirect jobs around the world and stimulates thousands more spin-off jobs and economic growth in a wide variety of other sectors.

“Today the world’s salmon farmers produce 2.5 million tonnes of salmon annually. Whether you are eating fresh salmon sushi, a grilled salmon fillet or smoked salmon, the odds are it has been farmed by a member of ISFA,” says Mr. Davidsen. “Farmed salmon has become a staple of healthy and affordable diets around the world.”

The report outlines key statistics about the sustainability of salmon farming, the growing population and the need to find innovative ways to feed the world. It also includes overviews of the industry in every country where salmon is farmed. The ISFA’s inaugural socio-economic report in 2015 showed that salmon farmers globally produced 14.8 billion meals, produced $10 billion (USD) worth of salmon and created 121,000 direct and indirect jobs.

Copies of the report are available on ISFA's website here.

For more information, please contact:

Trond Davidsen
President, International Salmon Farmers Association
Tel: +47 90180702
Email: trond.davidsen@sjomatnorge.no

 

What I know for sure about salmon farming

Fish farming facts from a conservationist and staunch aquaculture supporter

 I am a committed conservationist and as such, a staunch supporter of salmon farming.

And yes, those two stances can absolutely co-exist – and do, much more often than some would think if they rely only on media headlines to get their information about aquaculture.

Salmon farming has come under fire in the media in recent weeks, and it’s disheartening to read such intense criticism rife with misinformation.

I’ve spent over two decades working in Atlantic Canada’s environmental non-profit sector. I earned a Masters degree in Environment and Management from Royal Roads University; a certificate in Leadership for Environment and Development (LEAD) Programme in Moscow; and, certification from the Beahrs Environmental Leadership Program Environmental Leadership at UC-Berkeley, School of Natural Resource Management. Two years ago, I began my role as Executive Director of the Atlantic Canada Fish Farmers Association (ACFFA) after spending four years at a freshwater research institute. This job allows me to do what I have always strived to do during my career – make Atlantic Canada a better place to live. The ACFFA and its 33 members support local people growing healthy food with a minimal ecological footprint. Here’s what I know for sure about salmon farming:

·       The majority of Atlantic Canadians support salmon farming. Opinion polls show that over 80% of consumers support salmon farming.

·       Almost all of the two million tonnes of Atlantic salmon we consume in the world comes from ocean farms. Only a small percentage is angled or caught as bycatch.

·       Atlantic salmon is one of the most energy efficient farmed animals; its carbon footprint is one tenth of the footprint of beef, including the fact that seafood is transported over longer distances to market than meat. Growing salmon uses significantly less water and space compared to beef too.

·       The salmon farming industry is highly regulated and relies on peer-reviewed science to operate farms and maintain fish health. Atlantic Canada is home to world-class aquaculture experts in the federal and provincial governments, at universities and in the private sector. These highly educated professionals helped pioneer the global salmon farming industry, and our farmers work with them on a wide variety of projects aimed at improving our sector. It’s always been that way; our farmers could not have built this industry over the past 40 years without those collaborations.

·       Decades of peer-reviewed research show that salmon farms have little long-term environmental impact on the marine environment.

·       Those who advocate moving all salmon farms from the ocean onto land need to realize that although land-based technology is evolving, the practice of growing salmon in tanks poses very real challenges. To grow salmon to market size and meet the global demand would require massive amounts of land, water and energy. And most importantly there are animal welfare considerations. It would take billions of litres of water just to fill the tanks and billions of litres of even more fresh water to flush the fish for 10-15 days prior to harvest as is necessary when they are grown to full size in land-based tanks. Our salmon farmers are experts in closed containment because their fish spend more than half their lives in land-based hatcheries where recirculation systems are used. They know that technology continues to evolve (they are the ones driving that innovation!), but at this point, the ocean is the best place for salmon to grow from smolts to market size – just as they do in nature.

·       The demand for Atlantic salmon will continue to grow. World population is outstripping food production. As arable land and freshwater resources shrink, terrestrial farming alone cannot feed that population. Aquaculture is a crucial and sustainable way to help supply the world’s food needs. Atlantic Canada is already a global leader in this incredible sector which produces over 300 million salmon meals, 3,500 direct jobs and contributes $400 million directly to the economy.

Modern salmon farming is here to stay in Atlantic Canada. It’s an industry to celebrate and nurture for our region’s challenging future. Grasping its full potential will take a collaborative approach that balances environmental, social and economic priorities. Salmon farmers are ready to do that, just like they always have been. And my door is always open!

Susan Farquharson
Executive Director
Atlantic Canada Fish Farmers Association

STATEMENT: Canada’s Commissioner of the Environment: Report on Salmon Farming

Salmon farming is a growing industry in Canada that provides an important source of fish, given declining wild fish stocks. Globally, aquaculture now provides more than half of all fish for human consumption. Aquaculture is a fast-evolving sector, and our farmers rely on science, innovation and new technology to manage their farms and reduce their environmental footprint. We support any well-informed recommendations that help protect this important food provider as well as the environment where we raise our fish.

We will take time to review in detail today’s report from Canada’s Commissioner of the Environment, but it is important to remember that the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DF0) is not the primary regulator of salmon farming in Canada. The report does not take fully into account the vital role that other federal agencies and provincial governments play in regulating the salmon farming industry in Atlantic Canada. The provincial regulations work well. Our farmers adhere to rigorous environmental regulations, policies and codes of practice developed by government, scientists and industry. These codes ensure our fish are healthy, properly contained in their pens and that waste is managed responsibly to avoid benthic impact. Farms are inspected regularly by both government and third-party certification professionals.

When it comes to containment, our farmers in Atlantic Canada follow a Code of Containment that is based on International Guidelines for Containment set by the International Salmon Farmers Association and the North Atlantic Salmon Conservation Organization (NASCO). The code details rigorous guidelines for the design of pens, their mooring systems and netting. It’s important that any regulations take into account the differing conditions in each province; that’s why containment is regulated by each province. Escapes from Atlantic Canadian salmon farms are uncommon. The escapes in 2015 came as the result of extremely severe weather conditions. Our farmers don’t want to lose a single fish and work collaboratively with many stakeholders to continuously improve our containment measures. Last week we co-hosted a 1.5 day Atlantic Containment Workshop with the Atlantic Salmon Federation. We also established a NB Containment Liaison Committee where we regularly share information about escapes with ASF and other stakeholders.

In terms of disease management, the provincial government plays an important role in regulating our industry. Fish health is of paramount importance to the salmon farming industry. Our industry uses the best science and nearly 40 years of farming experience to grow healthy, nutritious salmon. Diseases and parasites that affect the aquaculture industry are naturally present in marine and freshwater environments across the country. All drugs and pesticides are used under the direction of the veterinarian and all treatments are reported to regulators and a long list of stakeholders. All salmon farms in Canada are certified to Best Aquaculture Practices (BAP) or Global Aquaculture Alliance (GAA) or Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC) so not only are farmers in compliance with legislation/regulations, but they are compliant with global standards.

We look forward to providing input as DFO moves forward with the report’s recommendations.

Susan Farquharson
Executive Director
Atlantic Canada Fish Farmers Association

 

STATEMENT: Infectious Salmon Anemia in Nova Scotia

Infectious Salmon Anemia (ISAv) is a naturally occurring virus in the environment. ISA is present in a variety of wild fish in many parts of the world, including eastern Canada and the United States. These include: Atlantic herring, Atlantic cod, Atlantic salmon and brown trout. 

Although unusual to find ISA in a land-based hatchery, evidence of ISA has been recorded in the wild fishery on the east coast for over 100 years. While ISA is harmful to salmon, it poses no risk to human health.

The industry has worked closely with the Canadian Food Inspection Agency on standard operating procedures that guide all aspects of ISA containment and control. Fish health monitoring is conducted regularly in all land-based fish rearing systems by regulators, veterinarians and staff to make sure the fish remain healthy and to spot fish health concerns early. Hatchery or hatchery practices do not create the problem – but staff have been trained to detect symptoms and implement appropriate rigorous testing and monitoring as quickly as possible, as was the case in Nova Scotia. It was the highly trained staff at the facilities in question that reported the concern to provincial veterinarians and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency. When ISA is detected, salmon farmers alert federal and provincial regulators and immediately initiate strict biosecurity and containment measures to protect the health of the fish and the environment.

Since 1996 when ISA was first identified in New Brunswick, salmon farmers have worked with scientists, veterinarians and government to ensure monitoring programs are in place, along with management and containment strategies to stop the virus from spreading.

The lessons learned from every ISA incident are used throughout the region to continuously improve ISA management. The fact that we have not seen wide-spread incidents of ISA show that the stringent protocols for fish health surveillance and testing our industry has in place are working.

Susan Farquharson
Executive Director
Atlantic Canada Fish Farmers Association

 

 

Atlantic Canadian Salmon Farmers Welcome New Federal Science Review

Atlantic Canada’s salmon farmers welcome today’s announcement of an independent review of science-based decision-making in aquaculture.

“Our farmers are world leaders in sustainable salmon farming, and our sector has always been supported by a diverse science and research community,” says Susan Farquharson, Executive Director of the Atlantic Canada Fish Farmers Association.

Dominic LeBlanc, Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard today asked Canada’s Chief Science Advisor, Dr. Mona Nemer, to lead an independent expert panel to provide recommendations on the appropriate use, consideration, and communication of scientific evidence in protecting the marine environment in decision-making on aquaculture.

“We support any efforts to increase engagement and communication with Atlantic Canadians about our industry and the science that supports it,” says Farquharson. “We look forward to working with the committee as the process unfolds.”

The UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization projects that aquaculture will account for two-thirds of the global food fish consumption by 2030.

The Atlantic Canada Fish Farmers Association (ACFFA) is an industry-funded association working on behalf of Atlantic Canada’s salmon farming industry in addition to a wide range of service and supply companies and organizations. Salmon farming employs over 3000 people in our region and has a value of over $350 million to provincial economies.

For more information, please contact:
Susan Farquharson, Executive Director
Ph: 506-755-3526
Email: s.farquharson@atlanticfishfarmers.com

ACFFA Marks 30th Anniversary with New Award

Gary Taylor of St. Stephen is the inaugural recipient of the Atlantic Canada Aquaculture Award in recognition of his long-time commitment to the success and growth of this region’s salmon farming industry.

The Atlantic Canada Fish Farmers’ Association (ACFFA) established the award this year to mark its 30th anniversary. Skretting International sponsored the 2017 award and presented it to Taylor at ACFFA’s Anniversary Gala this week in St. Andrews.

“Gary has been involved with many innovations as the industry has evolved to what it is today, one of the most significant economic drivers in Atlantic Canada,” said Larry Ingalls, ACFFA Chair. “His professionalism, commitment, hard work and passion for this industry truly deserve to be recognized and we’re proud that he is the inaugural recipient of this award.”

Taylor entered the aquaculture industry in 1981 when he graduated from the Aquaculture Technician Program at the New Brunswick Community College in St. Andrews. He first worked in Dark Harbour, Grand Manan, where was the first site manager hired in the industry working for Fundy Aquaculture. He joined Skretting in 1988 where he has been providing customers with excellent service, linking them to the many innovations in feed and fish growth that have taken place over the last 29 years.

“We have such a great industry here. We’ve got the best protein in the world with the least impact on the environment,” Taylor said. “It’s something to be extremely proud of and everyone in this room deserves a hand for the great industry we have developed.”

Approximately 140 salmon farmers, industry stakeholders, scientists, researchers, provincial and federal government representatives, and community members gathered in St. Andrews this week for ACFFA’s 2017 Aquaculture, Research, Science and Technology Forum at the Huntsman Fundy Discovery Centre. Conference participants heard presentations that looked back over the evolution of the industry as well as those that showcased the latest research and innovations, including a Sea Lice Resistance Panel sponsored by Elanco. At the Anniversary Gala, ACFFA also paid tribute to long-time board member and Cooke Aquaculture VP Communications Nell Halse who is retiring at the end of 2017.

“Nell Halse has been an incredibly strong voice for this industry. She’s a collaborator, a builder and a true professional,” said Ingalls. “She’s made a significant and lasting contribution to this industry and as a result, this province. I wish her well in her retirement.”

The Atlantic Canada Fish Farmers Association (ACFFA) is an industry-funded association working on behalf of Atlantic Canada’s salmon farming industry in addition to a wide range of service and supply companies and organizations. Salmon farming employs over 3000 people in our region and has a value of over $350 million to provincial economies.

Picture Caption (from the left) NB Aquaculture and Fisheries Minister Rick Doucet, ACFFA Executive Director Susan Farquharson, Gary Taylor, David Seeley and Trevor Stanley from Skretting.

For more information, please contact:
Kathy Kaufield, Communications Director
Email: Kathy.Kaufield@gmail.com

 

Time for a New Approach to Recovering our Region’s Wild Atlantic Salmon

New Brunswick’s salmon farmers, like the Atlantic Salmon Federation (ASF), are disheartened by the lack of returns of wild Atlantic salmon to the Magaguadavic River. Our members have a long history of working on wild salmon enhancement efforts in many parts of the region, including the Magaguadavic River.

The Atlantic Salmon Federation should be challenged for floating hypothetical assumptions as science to continually blame salmon farming for the demise of wild Atlantic salmon.

The discovery of 15 fish on the riverway trap has been discussed thoroughly by all partners in the NB Aquaculture Containment Liaison Committee, which includes the Atlantic Canada Fish Farmers Association, the Atlantic Salmon Federation, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, the NB Department of Aquaculture, Agriculture and Fisheries, Cooke Aquaculture, Northern Harvest Sea Farms, the NB Conservation Council and the NB Salmon Council.

Our farming companies have conducted thorough investigations in addition to their routine equipment and fish monitoring programs and have found no breeches of containment on their farms to explain the recent discoveries. To help determine the origin of the fish, farmers offered to perform genetic testing on the clips taken from these salmon, which ASF have not yet supplied. Through genetic testing, farmed salmon can be traced back to the hatchery and farm where they were raised.

ASF is well aware of the industry escapee reporting requirements both federally and provincially. Our farmers are in fact going above and beyond that. In 2014, we changed our Code of Containment so that companies are now also voluntarily reporting suspected escapes from their farms. Confirmed escapes of over 100 are communicated by the federal regulator to several non-government organizations, including the ASF.

Approximately five million healthy farmed salmon swim in safe, secure farms in southwest New Brunswick in any given year. Escape events in New Brunswick are rare and are largely a result of extreme weather events. Occasionally a small number of fish may escape due to human error when fish are being handled (i.e. harvesting, fish health inspections, etc.).

The regulatory analysis performed by ASF last year was written with an anti-aquaculture agenda and the author’s lack of experience with the subject matter was obvious to anyone with knowledge of the sector. It ignored significant mechanisms that are in place to manage the industry, including ten pieces of federal and provincial legislation, the national Aquaculture Activity Regulations, conditions of license, industry codes of practice and the rigorous, independent audits by third-party internationally recognized certification programs that our companies subscribe to.

The regulations that oversee salmon farming are rigorous. They are being followed. There is more transparency in salmon farming than any other food producing sector.

It is well known and well documented that wild Atlantic salmon populations are impacted by a variety of issues. Marine Survival is considered the most significant factor, and this is being compounded by climate change. Other impacts include acid rain, industrialization, seal predation, unhealthy watersheds, hydro dams, habitat loss and over fishing. To point the finger at aquaculture based on hypothetical assumptions is ridiculous and ignores the cumulative effect and realities of warming oceans and river systems.

Next week, ACFFA and many of our members are heading to Fundy National Park to celebrate the release of a record number of wild Inner Bay of Fundy salmon from a conservation farm on Grand Manan to their native river. We’ve been working with a wide variety of partners as part of the innovative Fundy Salmon Recovery project (www.fundysalmonrecovery.com) that is seeing salmon return to the river in unprecedented numbers. If ASF truly wants to satisfy their funders by fulfilling their mandate to recover the region’s wild salmon, I suggest they focus more attention on cutting-edge, collaborative enhancement projects rather than divisive, unsubstantiated finger pointing.

Susan Farquharson
Executive Director

Atlantic Canada Fish Farmers Association
Email: s.farquharson@atlanticfishfarmers.com
Ph: 506-755-3526

 

Big Hike in Worker's Compensation Premiums Will Hurt Aquaculture Industry

By Susan Farquharson

New Brunswick’s salmon farming industry plays a vital role in this province’s economic renewal plan.

 Our farmers are producing one of the healthiest foods in the world while creating jobs in our rural and coastal communities. Our industry employs people directly on farms as well as in feed production, manufacturing, packaging, transportation, supply and services, research and innovation and spin-off jobs in many other sectors including retail and tourism.

 Our industry employs thousands of people in areas where labour opportunities have been transitioning for the past several decades. Whether it’s in a hatchery, on a fish farm, in a processing plant, on a transport truck, or in administrative roles, New Brunswickers who are employed in the fish farming industry work in varying and challenging conditions. Our industry knows that safe and healthy work environments are imperative. We also know the importance of having a functional workers’ compensation system in place that balances the needs of employees and employers.

 Our companies want to continue to aid economic growth in our province, which is why we feel compelled to add our voices to the chorus of industry professionals who are raising the alarm over WorkSafeNB’s unexpected announcement of an immediate 33 per cent hike in employer premiums. Increasing the average assessment rate for employers from $1.11 per $100 in 2016 to $1.48 in 2017 will have an immediate and significant impact on the budgets of both big and small companies and subsequently the entire provincial economy. WorkSafeNB’s warning that subsequent rate hikes are likely for the foreseeable future is alarming as well.  How can companies operating in New Brunswick plan and support provincial economic development, while operating under these unknowns?

 It seems there has been a long and murky road of ineffective policy and politics that has taken us to where we are today – dealing with such a sudden hike in premiums unseen in both percentage and raw dollars in the past 20 years.

 There is no doubt that our companies are frustrated that this increase came without warning and is now seemingly irreversible. Like other industries, we are dedicated to operating here in New Brunswick, but we are already struggling to navigate increased taxes, rising operational costs, changing global markets and a significant labour shortage.

 We know that our people, our labour force, are our greatest resource. Our industry supports having a healthy worker’s compensation program to support our employees when they need it. However, the system we have in place now that allows for such sudden, unplanned and disruptive increases is simply not acceptable, professional or productive. New Brunswick businesses need stability and predictability in order to survive and thrive. Developers need confidence to invest in New Brunswick. Entrepreneurs invest less and take fewer risks when they are forced to operate in an unpredictable environment.

 We strongly urge the provincial government to work with WorkSafeNB and New Brunswick businesses, including those in our industry, to act quickly to find a solution that works for both employers and employees.

 Susan Farquharson is the Executive Director of the Atlantic Canada Fish Farmers Association.