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