February 12, 2010
Letter to the Editor
Re: Fishing for Answers
I have both kudos and criticisms regarding your recent story on sustainable seafood. As a representative of Canada’s aquaculture industry, I commend the Ottawa Citizen – and retailers you reference, such as Loblaws – for making an effort to help consumers make smart seafood decisions. You correctly acknowledge that many farmed products, including shellfish and Arctic char, are smart choices, and wisely question the sustainability of wild salmon because of reduced Fraser River wild sockeye stocks.
However, you need to have all the facts before making recommendations on what to eat and what to avoid. For instance, the article says farmed salmon ‘damage the natural habitats surrounding the open ocean pens, and can give the wild species sea lice.’ Approvals for salmon farms are subject to environmental review according to both federal and provincial legislation, including the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, and salmon farms can only be sited in areas where water currents provide optimal conditions for fish health and environmental sustainability. Sea lice levels on salmon farms are strictly monitored and controlled, and a recent study found that wild salmon in an area where there were no farms had as many sea lice as wild salmon in an area where salmon farming occurs. Moreover, sea lice and wild salmon have been coexisting for millions of years – long before salmon farming began.
Canadian Aquaculture Industry Alliance