I am writing in response to MP John Weston's insightful and interesting letter in last week's Undercurrent. There were things in it I agree with and things I don't. Let's see what we can agree upon and go from there.
I agree, it is all about environmentally responsible and economically sound aquaculture. When considering the environment, we are most interested in what levels of aquaculture can be sustained without causing harm to the oceans and coastal waters. Sustaining here means not taking more from the sea or ocean than the organisms living in them can keep up with, and not polluting it so life becomes imposssible in it.
Even though Mr. Weston paints a pretty picture about aquaculture, not all aquaculture is the same. Some fish and shellfish species can be farmed in a remarkably sustainable manner. They can get by with the nutrients in the waters they are farmed in. However that is not to the case for salmon:
salmon eat other fish and farmed salmon eat fish protein granules made from a base of fish oil and fishmeal. To provide for these fish proteins, fish stocks in the southern hemisphere are dangerously over-fished. The salmon farm industry has known this for a long time. It has always been the major flaw in their long term economic plans. Over the last years, and more so recently, the industry is nervously trying to come up with alternative food sources. All this initiated by rising prices for fish oil and fish meal, economically this means scarcity driving prices up.
All the time industry and governments have been promoting salmon farming, we would have been better off eating the fish, to be processed into farmed salmon feed, ourselves. After all, it takes 1.5 to 8 kilos of fish to grow 1 kilo of farmed salmon. Salmon farming has never really made any sense other than short-term profits.
While Mr. Weston's economic arguments promote the expansion of the number of salmon farms, the economics behind it are simply ludicrous. Shareholders return, quarterly profit forecasts are becoming vastly dated concepts in a world where every week brings us more experiences of rapidly changing climates and depleted oceans.
For some it still doesn't seem to hit home. I'd like Mr. Hawthorn, board member of the B.C. Salmon Farmer's Association:
It's not just about peak salmon ... it's about peak food... The world needs to find ways to produce more food, seafood in particular. Especially as there are more people in the world but people are getting wealthier and more people can afford to buy seafood.
Salmon farming is just a beautiful example ofhow non-sensible and illogical capitalism can be when we consider the long-term viability of living on this planet.
Anton van Walraven