Eddie Gardner and Tracy Lyster, with Wild Salmon Defenders Alliance, called for an end to open-net fish farms at NDP MLA Bob D’Eith’s office. (THE NEWS/files)

Eddie Gardner and Tracy Lyster, with Wild Salmon Defenders Alliance, called for an end to open-net fish farms at NDP MLA Bob D’Eith’s office. (THE NEWS/files)

Letter: ‘Salmon farming important for B.C.’

Farmers also support thousands of British Columbians with good jobs.

Editor, The News:

Re: Along the Fraser: A last stand for wild salmon.

Jack Emberly’s recent column about salmon farming in B.C. is founded on misinformation and assumptions that need addressing.

The over-riding assumption that salmon farms are harmful to wild salmon just does not stand up in the face of the science.

In fact, the large body of science done on this matter tells us that wild and farmed salmon can successfully co-exist in the ocean as long as salmon farmers act responsibly – as B.C.’s farmers do.

For example, the column claims the PRV virus is harmful to wild salmon when, in fact, extensive scientific research tells us the PRV that naturally occurs in the Pacific Ocean is very likely different strain from the one found in the Atlantic, and that it is not harmful.

The science he cites on the matter is just one study that has been reviewed by a panel of scientists at the Department of Fisheries and Oceans and found deficient.

It is important we study topics like this one and ask the tough questions. Ignoring the extensive body of science in favour of one questionable paper that aligns with our worldview does us all a disservice.

It also does us all a disservice to ignore just how important B.C.’s salmon farming industry is.

B.C.’s salmon farmers raise almost three-quarters of the salmon harvested in the province each year. By providing an alternative to buying threatened or endangered wild salmon when we are at the grocery store looking for a healthy meal for our families, salmon farming is helping reduce pressure from over-fishing.

Our farmers also support thousands of British Columbians with good jobs, many of them young First Nations people with deep ties to their environment and the coastal communities in which they grew up.

It may seem like salmon farms are a long way away from Maple Ridge, but any good jobs in B.C. benefit all of us, while the farms also provide grocery stores, restaurants, smoked salmon producers, and B.C. families an important food.

The industry is also committed to productive engagement with First Nations, such that our farmers have agreements with 20 First Nations along our coast and more than three-quarters of the salmon they produce is done so in partnership with a First Nation.

About 20 per cent of the people working for salmon farmers in B.C. are of First Nations heritage.

I would like to invite Mr. Emberly out to see a salmon farm for himself so he can get better informed on this important industry.

It might just change his perspective.

John Paul Fraser, executive director

B.C. Salmon Farmers Association