Our Wild Salmon Initiative
Ocean Outfitters cares deeply about wild salmon and their natural habitat. The five species of salmon native to the Pacific Northwest form the foundation of coastal ecosystems, indigenous culture and ecotourism. British Columbia's wild salmon are a globally recognized natural treasure, yet these stocks are under increasing pressure and in many places at risk of extinction. That's why we strongly support First Nations opposing open-net pen salmon farming by funding to build capacity and support communications.
Many factors impact salmon runs, including rising ocean temperatures and changing marine conditions due to global warming, decades of heavy commercial and sport fishing, and damage to freshwater salmon habitat from logging, urbanization, and other commercial activities. However, open-net pen fish farms that concentrate disease, pathogens, and sea lice, are adding to the burden and threatening to tip wild salmon over the breaking point.
2009 was an alarming year for Fraser River sockeye salmon returns, which dipped to dangerously low levels and raised concerns for the future of salmon on the BC coast at a time when many runs showed evidence of critical decline. In every other country that has embraced large scale open net pen aquaculture, like Norway, Scotland and Chile, wild fish stocks have declined. It's not too late for BC.
Ocean Outfitters believes that wilderness tourism and aquaculture can co-exist if both are conducted in a sustainable manner. However salmon aquaculture is falling short. We are urging the Government of Canada and the Province of BC to support the development and implementation of closed containment technology, and support an immediate moratorium on the expansion of open net pen farms. Furthermore all farms located on migratory routes should be closed immediately and remaining farms fallowed until it can be proven unequivocally, through peer reviewed science that these salmon aquaculture operations have no impact on wild stocks. Non-government and non-industry scientists must be given access to fish health data and industry research in order the conduct independent analysis and research.
From orca whales to coastal bears, a vast array of species depend on wild salmon. A collapse of wild salmon stocks would destroy the commercial, sport fishing, and tourism industries, and all those that depend on salmon for food. Wild salmon are essential. They need our protection. It's time to hold the salmon aquaculture industry to a much higher standard.