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Op-ed: Hello Mr. Premier can you get your fish gang to do some more homework on this?

by Lil MacPherson

Aquaculture is destroying our keystone wild salmon stocks, and we even gave them our extra tax dollars to do it! Are we nuts, asks Lil MacPherson. Hans-Petter Fjeld photo (CC-BY-SA)
Aquaculture is destroying our keystone wild salmon stocks, and we even gave them our extra tax dollars to do it! Are we nuts, asks Lil MacPherson. Hans-Petter Fjeld photo (CC-BY-SA)

My previous op-ed, “I wouldn’t feed farm salmon to my dog” really stirred up some emotions.

“I am not eating farmed salmon anymore and I am not feeding it to my dog” was what I heard from many friends and strangers. So much so I just had to write and tell you the feed back from my previous letter blew me away!  People were sending me facts and lots of them. What I am learning is even more disturbing. A very recent scientific report from the University of Albany in NY, the largest of its kind ever undertaken, determined farmed salmon is so contaminated with toxic chemicals that it should be eaten no more then three times a year.  An American toxicologist involved in the study Dr Jeffery Foran said,“ he, nor his family, would ever eat farmed salmon again. AND the Norwegian Government has advised pregnant women and children to restrict their consumption of farmed salmon. The UK’s food Standards Agency is stating the same thing. Yikes!! 

 Now we can stop feeding our kids salmon today but that is clearly not enough. 

The fact that disturbed me the most is the effects these open pen feedlots are having on the real salmon stocks and damaging our ocean ecosystem more than we know. One of the new facts I learned was that our salmon are a keystone species (bees are another). In an ecosystem, all living things rely on each other and work together to be healthy; but, some species (like wild salmon) are crucial to the way all the species interrelate. When a keystone species is removed from a habitat, the habitat is dramatically changed. All other species are affected and some may disappear from that ecosystem or even become extinct.

Our young salmon swim near these feedlots, picking up lots of extra baggage, disease, sea lice, chemicals, you name it and the majority don’t survive, and there is overwhelming evidence this is happening to our wild salmon in the areas of these feedlots.  Our government is allowing this company to destroy our keystone wild salmon stocks, and we even gave them our extra tax dollars to do it! Are we nuts?  I don't want to put my tax dollars into an industry that is damaging our oceans, and screwing with a keystone species, while producing a very high toxic low quality fish? (I can't bring myself to even call this fish a salmon)  Hello Mr. Premier can you get your fish gang to do some more homework on this ... right away! 

And did you know Environment Canada charged CEO Glenn Cooke, vice president Michael Szemerda and a regional manager for using an illegal chemical called Cypermethrin.  It’s not permitted for use in marine environments because of its proven toxicity to shellfish, including lobsters and shrimp and they used the pesticide on 15 separate sites to address a major sea lice infestation knowing that it was illegal to do so! As I am writing this I am wondering what were they thinking and saying when they dumped this in our oceans knowing full well it will kill the product of another fishing industry?  “Gee, boys I hope no one see us doing this, so be quiet, we have to do this 15 times. And you did this to15 separate sites Mr. Cooke? 

Fisherman in Southwestern New Brunswick were finding dead and dying lobsters in their traps. The Cooke gang has no respect for our environmental rules, our fisherman, or our critical lobster industry, worth millions! They will do whatever it takes to feed their bottom line no matter what?  Really? Ok let’s sum this up. We are allowing one corporation, Cooke Aquaculture, to use our ocean as a dump site, infecting and polluting our pristine Nova Scotia coastal shore and wildlife, threatening one of our critical “keystone species” and for what? A weak, pesticide filled pink dyed product? 

Really? I am now thinking strongly we all need to send facts to our Aquaculture, Environment and Health ministers, asking them to do the right thing for the sake of our future fish stocks, our coastal shores, and lobster industry.  The ocean species can't take this continuous high level of pollution and pesticides. Check out these two wonderful films -Salmon Wars (local production) and Salmon Confidential(BC production) … our kids will ask us why we let this happen?  Did we not learn any critical thinking with the loss of our Cod stocks... I guess not. “I wouldn’t feed farm Salmon to my dog” really stirred up some emotions.    

 Lil MacPherson is President/Co-Owner of The Wooden Monkey

This op-ed was originally published in the always excellent South Coast Today


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