Wild atlantic salmon. (Photo: ASF)
Farmers criticise ASF for wild Atlantic salmon decline approach
Friday, October 06, 2017, 23:50 (GMT + 9)
The Atlantic Canada Fish Farmers Association (ACFFA) shares the concern expressed by the Atlantic Salmon Federation (ASF) about the lack of returns of wild Atlantic salmon to the Magaguadavic River, New Brunswick (NB), but it criticises the entity for not taking the issue seriously.
The ACFFA states that the ASF should be challenged for floating hypothetical assumptions as science to continually blame salmon farming for the demise of wild Atlantic salmon.
The association points out that 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 ACFFA, the ASF, 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.
In this regard, the ACFFA explains that to help determine the origin of the fish, farmers offered to perform genetic testing on the clips taken from these salmon, which the ASF have not yet supplied.
“ASF is well aware of the industry escapee reporting requirements both federally and provincially. Our farmers are in fact going above and beyond that,” ACFFA claims.
The association recalls that in 2014, the Code of Containment was changed so that companies are now also voluntarily reporting suspected escapes from their farms.
In addition, it stresses that approximately 5 million healthy farmed salmon swim in safe, secure farms in southwest New Brunswick in any given year and that escape events in New Brunswick are rare and are largely a result of extreme weather events.
However, the organisation states that 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.
ACFFA ensures that the regulations that oversee salmon farming are rigorous and they are being followed, adding that there is more transparency in salmon farming than any other food producing sector.
According to the organisation, wild Atlantic salmon populations are impacted by a variety of issues, such as climate change, acid rain, industrialization, seal predation, unhealthy watersheds, hydro dams, habitat loss and overfishing.
“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,” the organisation stresses.
“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,” warns Susan Farquharson, ACFFA Executive Director.