Aquaculture North America

News
Fish farm debate

Marine Harvest CEO Alf-Helge Aarskog and BC environmentalist David Suzuki represented two sides of the salmon farming debate in a Q & A piece in the Vancouver Sun today.

The two men talked about the hot button issue that made headlines in British Columbia in recent weeks — from the impact of salmon farms on wild salmon stocks to land-based aquaculture to the industry’s role in feeding the world’s growing population.

Environmental activists have blamed the fish farming industry for the decline in wild salmon stocks and transfer of diseases from farmed salmon to wild salmon. In the industry’s defence, Aarskog said the decline or increase in salmon stocks is very hard to predict. One has to take into account what happens in the ocean, access to food, overfishing, the effect of global warming and why some (spawning) rivers are doing better than others, he said. “It’s hard to know the impact of farms, but we haven’t found a wild salmon with a disease that came from farmed salmon, yet.”

“We’ve got to stop using the oceans as a garbage can,” said Suzuki, adding that a look at the science tells him that fish farms should not have been in the migratory routes of wild salmon in the first place. He suggested what other activists have espoused for a while now—to move ocean-based fish farms to land.

Aarskog believes a lot more work needs to be done—particularly the technology aspect—to make land-based farming a success. “A lot of money is being put into land-based salmon farming these days. There is one in Miami and a few others in Europe and so far no one has succeeded because the costs are so high. The oldest one is in Denmark and it has been bankrupt three times. Instead, we are looking at technologies for closed systems in the ocean.”

Q & A can be found here.