We interrupt this program for a brief attack on salmon farming

The first project I did with Gregor Robertson was a news conference on the need for “closed containment” salmon farming during his successful bid to become MLA in my riding of Vancouver Fairview. Using a friend’s fishboat as the setting, we purchased a sockeye from a Granville Island fish stand that was raised in the province’s only closed containment salmon aquaculture farm. It was proof, Gregor noted, that there is a sustainable option that protects wild salmon stocks. (I believe the farm is now closed.)

And now, a confession: I took the fish home, cooked it and tried to eat it. Couldn’t do it. It tasted awful. Closed containment is just a more expensive form of on-land battery farming of salmon.

Scientific research has now proved beyond doubt that sea lice breeding on farmed salmon are exterminating salmon smolts as they pass through the Broughton Archipelago to the Pacific. Closed containment remains a glint in the environmental movement’s eye. Two organizations I support to work on this issue are Alexandra Morton’s Adopt-A-Fry campaign and the Georgia Strait Alliance. I served on the GSA’s board for several years.

In the 25 years I have followed this issue, salmon farms have never delivered on their promise to leave wild stocks unaffected. (Much of my early work on this issue was summarized in my book Salmon: The Decline of the Pacific Fishery, now out of print but available at Vancouver Public Library.)

It’s time for tougher action, as I argued today in a letter to the Vancouver Sun:

Broughton Archipelago salmon farms must go

Re: Sea lice infestations need to be dealt with, Soundoff, July 8

If a chemical spill threatened to exterminate migrating salmon on an annual basis, the source of the spill would be removed. When sea lice emanating from salmon farms have the same impact, the B.C. government promises to review “closed containment” and does nothing.

It’s time to insist on the removal of salmon farms from the Broughton Archipelago before they exterminate the wild salmon stocks that are one of our province’s most beautiful natural resources

By the time “closed containment” arrives, if it ever does, the salmon will be gone.

Geoff Meggs, Vancouver