HALIFAX CHRONICLE HERALD
More than 300 members of the Atlantic Salmon Federation, many of them anglers, were planning to dine on Arctic char in Halifax on Thursday to support the organization’s promotion of land-based aquaculture.
“Ocean-farmed Atlantic salmon is typically one of the cheaper meals to serve at big dinners,” federation president Bill Taylor said in an interview. “We’re looking to make the point we can serve a large crowd fresh Arctic char from a sustainable land-based aquaculture operation for about the same price as ocean-farmed Atlantic salmon.”
Arctic char at the federation fundraising event came from a land-based aquaculture operation at Millbrook First Nation near Truro, developed in partnership with Sustainable Blue of Centre Burlington, Hants County.
Smoked salmon from a land-based aquaculture operation in West Virginia was also served at the annual fundraiser, being held in co-operation with the Nova Scotia Salmon Association.
Serving up seafood from land-based aquaculture operations is part of the federation’s Clean Up Salmon Farming campaign, and its continuing efforts to raise awareness about issues linked to ocean salmon farming, Taylor said.
The federation has posted some of its concerns about ocean salmon farming on billboards around Halifax-Dartmouth in recent weeks.
The billboards are part of a media campaign that includes full-page ads in The Chronicle Herald, a website and a Facebook page.
Ocean aquaculture is a threat to sport fishing, commercial fishing and tourism, Taylor said.
However, a spokeswoman with Cooke Aquaculture Inc., the Atlantic region’s largest ocean seafood farmer, said Thursday there are examples all around the world of how environmental risks of ocean aquaculture have diminished.
Nell Halse said a recent outbreak of infectious salmon anemia in Chile, in an area where the company recently bought into a large ocean salmon farm, provides an example of how quickly regulators are responding to potential threats.
“Since the late 1990s and into the 2000s, there have been huge global collaborations to improve bio-security and area management in the industry,” Halse said.
Cooke Aquaculture recently invested US$20 million in a 54 per cent stake in a Chilean salmon operation in the same coastal region where 24,700 fish were ordered destroyed this week due to infectious salmon anemia.
“We were unaffected by this outbreak and remain comfortable with our investment because Chile now has rigid regulatory controls in place,” Halse said.
Ocean farming of Atlantic salmon is an economically viable method to provide healthy food for consumers, with effective controls in place to protect the environment, she said.
Opponents of ocean salmon farms have long argued that land-based systems reduce environmental risks.
The standard reply from the aquaculture industry is land-based fish farms are too expensive and put the cost of the resulting product out of reach of average consumers.