Organic Consumers Association

Opinion: Canadian study that will compare farmed and wild salmon is by definition seriously flawed because fish farming is not sustainable

Date: Fri, 07 Feb 2003 17:05:48 -0600
Subject: Response to AquaNet Salmon Study

Dear Mike,

I feel that I have to make a comment about this research. Sure it is easy
to get the big guns to agree to progress research about salmon farming in
almost any category. The funding will be available because the big guns are
applying for it. When the Canadian aquaculture industry ask for research
funding, in conjunction with university academics no one is going to refuse.

The problem about this funding is the criteria for which it is being used.
(sustainability is to today's key word for access to any such funding, for
modern food production systems in particular).

It must be stated almost without saying that sustainability must be the
driving criteria and stated as such, as part of a funding application to
day, even when in reality, it does not apply. I will clarify the point. No
one outside the aquaculture industry, apart from independent scientists,
knows that sustainable aquaculture is not possible,
as manufactured food
requirements for fish farming depend on sea fish, at least for most
carnivores fish species like trout and salmon. The sea fish which provide
this manufactured diet do so in at least a two to one ratio. This figure of
2:1 is extremely conservative in its estimation, 3:1 convention ratios are
more acceptable.

The marine resources which have up till now provided these food items for
fish farming are in desperate decline globally. Consequently they will be
unable to supply a growing aquaculture industry given future expansion and
predicted demand in the future.
The industry, hungry for marine resources
to feed carnivorous fish farmed species around the world will and cannot be

There is no sustainable justification for sacrificing a marine resource for
fish farming, when the overall nutritional production is a loss of protein,
the so called advantages are negative. In fact this practice is an absolute
opposite to sustainability. It is absurd that the aquaculture industry has
the front to claim any sort of sustainability at all.

Salmon and trout farming are resource hungry industries that have little or
nothing to do with environmental sustainable food production systems. Yes,
conventional intensive aquaculture may guarantee jobs, but do not let us
confuse social and environmental sustainability, in order to be able to use
the same word in a different context. The aquaculture industry is desperate
to appear sustainable even though in most cases this can never happen, at
least not with natural carnivores farmed fish species.

Fish species manipulation has tried very hard to make this happen,
transgenic fish have been developed in order to make the industry more
profit. They will be used to make the industry appear more sustainable. If
you want to encourage these GM fish into our environment knowing the damage
that Atlantic Farmed Salmon have already made on the marine and freshwater
ecosystems seems a little irresponsible, give the scientific factors that
already exist as evidence, studies already show that at least 25 Pacific
coast rivers in the USA are in inhabited by Atlantic Salmon, an alien
species displacing indigenous freshwater fish.

There are therefore two major problems with salmon farming systems, one, is
claim to be sustainable and two, there is no alternative or opposite system
in operation with which to compare one system against another. This in some
respects has allowed the aquaculture industry to ride rough shod over every

Governments, certification organisations who set standards or fund fish
farming research are being taken for a long ride. With out their own expert
knowledge, they are unable to confront claims made by this powerful and now
from a BC perspective, allegedly corrupt aquaculture industry. The
situation is not improving while environmental devastation continues to
impact the environment.

I resent and deplore the aquaculture industry claiming that it has any such
sustainable status, it has very little if any and is not likely to be able
to claim such status while it insists on pursuing the systems it now uses
for food production.

Manipulating a fish species to suit artificial conditions, artificial food
and artificial habitats, does not make the system of intensive fish farming
sustainable, these especially carnivores fish such as trout and salmon will
still required to be fed artificial and manufactured food resourced from
the environment.

If in the future they are likely to be fed some artificial food they would
not be able to obtain in the wild, then they should no longer be regarded
as trout or salmon in quite the same light, nor should they carry the same
name, it is extremely confusing and not understood by any of the consumers.

Kind regards
Laurence Hutchinson
Freshwater Solutions
specialist- ecological aquaculture.

AquaNet Salmon Study to compare farmed and wild salmon

St. John's, NL, CANADA, February 3, 2003

A multidisciplinary team of researchers has been awarded a grant from
AquaNet-the Network of Centres of Excellence for Aquaculture in Canada-to
contribute to a study on the flesh of farmed and wild salmon, according to
the Interim Chair of AquaNet, David Rideout. Rideout, who also serves
as Executive Director of the Canadian Aquaculture Industry Alliance, said
the study, which is the first of its size and scope in Canada, will
provide objective scientific information about the nutrient composition of,
and possible chemical contaminants in, wild-caught and farm-raised salmon.

The team involves researchers from three of Canada's pre-eminent research
institutions: The University of British Columbia, Simon Fraser University,
and the Department of Fisheries and Oceans. The researchers expect to
complete the project in June 2004.Rideout said the study "supports AquaNet's
overall objective of reducing uncertainty associated with the sustainable
development of the aquaculture sector in Canada." He added: "In addition to
adding science-based information to our existing knowledge base about
the safety of aquaculture products, the study will, we hope, address the
safety and quality of Canadian salmon products, be they wild-caught or farmed."

The project will take a total sample of 150 (chinook and coho) wild and
400 (Atlantic, chinook, and coho) farmed salmon from different locations,
and initially analyse in detail 108 farmed and 48 wild salmon. A total of
96 diet samples will also be taken and 12 will be analysed for
contaminants and nutrient composition.

The research team includes Dr. Michael Ikonomou, Adjunct Professor at
Simon Fraser University, and Head, Regional Contaminants Laboratory of DFO
's Institute of Ocean Sciences in Sidney, BC, Dr. David Higgs, Adjunct
Professor at The University of British Columbia and Head of the Fish
Nutrition Program at DFO's West Vancouver Laboratory, Dr. Scott McKinley,
Professor and Director of the UBC Centre for Aquaculture and the
Environment, Dr. Brent Skura, Associate Professor, Food Nutrition and
Health at UBC, and Dr. Robert Devlin, Adjunct Professor at UBC and
Research Scientist at DFO's West Vancouver Laboratory. AquaNet and other
government and industry sources and many other contributing scientific
partners finance this project. Dr. Scott McKinley will act as the
administrative coordinator for the project.

Seven applicants responded to an AquaNet call for proposals, issued in
November 2002. A rigorous selection process was conducted, beginning with
a review of the proposals by an independent scientific panel of three
experts, followed by evaluation and ranking by AquaNet's Research
Management Committee using a comprehensive set of criteria. The committee'
s recommendations on funding were approved by the Network's Board of Directors.

The NCE Program is a federal initiative administered jointly through the
Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC), the Canadian
Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) and the Social Sciences and
Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) in partnership with Industry Canada.

For further information, please contact:
Dr. Uschi Koebberling
Communications Advisor, AquaNet
Tel. 604-666-4452 Cell 604-319-0615

Mike Skladany, Ph.D
Senior Associate, Aquaculture Project
Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy
2105 First Avenue South
Minneapolis, Minnesota 55404

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