An invitation by a Fish Farmer.
Earlier this year I happened to receive an email from a Fish Farmer. He also believes in the preservation of Wild Salmon and has extended an invitation to me and I have asked if I could also include a few other friends in the visit.
His original email and my subsequent response is below. I hope you can join me if he permits.
On Mon, Oct 4, 2010 at 8:02 PM, Stewart Hawthorn wrote:
I read with interest your comments at:
and also on other pages on your website.
I am a passionate fish farmer who believes in the work that I am involved in is good for the environment and can be (and is being) done in a manner that is not harmful to wild salmon. The sockeye return this year, and pink salmon returns in the Broughton archipelago over recent years demonstrates that it is simplistic to claim that salmon farms are causing problems for the wild salmon runs in this province.
I agree that it is very important that the community in BC understands the truth about the actual impacts of salmon farms. If they do not then the communities that rely on salmon farming to sustain them will be adversely affected. We need diverse economies if we are to develop resilient communities. Salmon fishing, recreational fishing, tourism, responsible forestry and aquaculture can co-exist and help to build sustainable communities – communities that can support the arts!
Of course it must be done right and it must be done respectfully – I cannot and will not be associated with harming wild salmon runs.
I would like to invite you to visit one of our farms before you reach the conclusion that salmon farms adversely affect wild salmon.
Please contact me and then come and see for yourself.
Campbell River is a great place to visit at any time of the year!
Grieg Seafood BC Ltd
Hello Mr. Hawthorn,
Thank you for your email. Please accept my apologies for the late reply, however I wanted to take the time for a well thought out and detailed response.
I think we both agree that a strong, healthy wild salmon population should have no downside. Any return of Salmon that were once in the Broughton Archipelago should be celebrated. Some would think that the work done by activists to scientifically highlight the impacts, including those done by fish farms on the wild Salmon population should be given gratitude.
To give you background, I volunteer at a local community fish hatchery, called Mossom Creek (Port Moody, BC). Fish Hatcheries are not perfect systems either, but they are run by volunteers in communities that care about the fish and all the impacting elements of the watershed. The Department of Fisheries provides strict oversight, including regular monitoring including disease records.
I agree that actions speak louder than words. At Mossom Creek, some of the activities that demonstrate our commitment to wild salmon conservation include; the removal of invasive plant species, political oversight of industrial development and silting into tributaries, estuary restoration (eelgrass replanting) and environmental education to the general public. Over the past 30 years through the contribution of tens of thousands of volunteer hours, Mossom Creek’s natural run has been restored. Proudly, volunteers at Mossom Creek have been recognized locally and internationally for their work. Through that process, thousands of children and their families have been educated on what it takes for a salmon to survive. One of these children even won an international film award for her piece about her experience at the hatchery.
Fish Farms are large companies who make billions of dollars on the oceans that are owned by the people. So when the people see that Fish Farms are not doing their part to be sustainable, you can imagine their frustration. Thousands of people don’t walk 500 Kilometers to our provincial legislature or paddle down dozens of kilometers if they don’t have a passion for something they believe in. Many feel it’s the only peaceful way to manage their anger.
Also, to be clear I am not an anti-farmed Salmon person, I am a Wild Salmon advocate and have issues with any impacts to our natural resource. There are many issues including watershed management such as; over-development and run of river power to name a few. However, there is overwhelming scientific evidence that Sea Lice and Fish Farms are linked. While I don’t have specific knowledge about the practices at your Fish Farm in Campbell River (I am an artist, not a scientist), it appears on the surface, that some of your peers in the industry have not demonstrated the level of responsibility that you purport. That could explain the negative perception of the whole Fish Farming industry by the general public.
One thing that may help in this regard is for all fish farms to open their disease records so that science can study and determine the real issues. I don’t see a logical reason why one would not make these records available if they believe in the preservation of wild salmon. If your hatchery hasn’t done so, maybe you could see this as an opportunity to take leadership and show your peers that there is nothing to fear. Also as you know Justice Cohen who is leading a federal inquiry into the decline of the Fraser River Sockeye has ordered disease records from 121 Fish Farms to be provided to the commission. If yours is not one of the named, can I suggest you volunteer to provide them anyways?
I am very thankful for the opportunity to visit your operation. I plan to be in Campbell River for the Pacific Streamkeepers Conference in May 2011 and would kindly ask if I may pass on the invite to some of my peers, who will also be there at that time as well. On Sunday May 22nd, there may be an opportunity in the conference schedule tours to be able to do that.
As you may or may not know, I work in Media with Radio and Television and will be documenting my visit. I will be posting this letter to my website as well.
We hope you can join us and lead by example to restore our Wild Salmon stocks.
I agree that Campbell River is a great place to visit and look forward to coming up there. I would happy to give you one of my art pieces as a thank you for the invitation.
On Mon, Dec 13, 2010 at 12:57 PM, Stewart Hawthorn wrote:
Dear J Peachy
Thank you for this detailed response – it is much appreciated and it gives me heart that our wild salmon are in good hands when passionate people are engaged in activities to support and preserve them. Like you, the company I am involved with supports salmon enhancement activities – with both direct financial contributions and expertise.
Grieg Seafood BC Ltd. and others involved in farming salmon produce a healthy product in a healthy environment. We regularly produce and make public reports into the health status of our stocks. These are publically available. In addition some of my counterpart companies already routinely publish their sealice data online for everyone to see (our web site is currently under development and we will get there soon!).
I look forward to meeting you and some of your colleagues in May. It will be great to have the opportunity to address the issues that you raise below at that time and I am encouraged that you have an open mind. My colleagues in the BC Salmon Farmers Association will contact the organizers of the Streamkeepers event to ensure that a site visit is coordinated. I will try to make sure that I am available to meet you at that time.
sent Jan 14, 2011, 8:50 am
Happy New Year to you. Just wondering how things are progressing on the site visit. The Pacific Streamkeepers are happy to accommodate. If you don’t have a contact, please see ZoAnn Morton at email@example.com.
I also understand that you may not be available during the tour. Considering you made the invite, I would still like to give you the opportunity to speak on camera about your perspective so the people can know first hand what the truth is. If you can’t be available on the 22nd of May, we can arrange another time to meet.
Let me know when you expect to have the sea lice data on your website, so we can give you a chance to explain and interpret the information.
January 14, 2011 8:52 pm
I contacted ZoAnn and she indicated that the site tour is being organized through the committee that is responsible for organizing the Streamkeepers conference. It sounds like it is well in hand and I will leave it to them to arrange this as mentioned in previous correspondence. I hope that you will be able to make that tour. Please contact ZoAnn Morton directly if you are not clear on what the procedure is.
I am sure that we would be able to meet when you are here in May. But if that was not possible I am also sure that my colleagues in the BC Salmon Farmers Association will make themselves available.
Please see attached for our farms for the last 6 months (Grieg Sealice data). We continue to work on the web site at this time but the team here has been focused on the transition to DFO oversight in addition to our normal focus on operations. I’m not sure what the official launch date will be, but hope it will be soon. In the meantime, I hope this information helps answer any question you have. Other data will be published when the website is up.
I do hope that you have visited www.bcsalmonfacts.ca . This is a new web site that can answer any questions that you may have and I encourage you to direct further questions to the open forum here.
January 14, 2011 9:02 pm
I will follow-up with ZoAnn on the schedule. I will be at the Streamkeepers conference in May. We will touch base closer to the date for any other logistics. I will have our camera production with me, if there are any restricted filming areas on the farm please let me know, however full access is best.
Thank you for the sea lice data, I’m not a scientist so I will rely on some expert knowledge to decipher this. Thank you for the link to the new website, I will read it more in detail so that I have some better knowledge prior to our visit.
update May 12, 2011, from the SEP conference organizers.
” I just wanted to make you aware that the Fish Farmers Association who is sponsoring the tour has a policy of no movie or video footage during the tour. Still picture photography is more than welcome. The organizing committee was not aware of this when the tour description was published.”