Boycott of salmon feedlot attempts to go viral

Send to a friend

Send this article to a friend.

Group starts online petition

A new Internet campaign urges people to boycott salmon grown on feedlots in the aquaculture industry from coast to coast.

The grassroots movement,, relies on small donations from the public and has an online petition that people can sign to show their support for boycotting salmon grown in marine pens or feedlots.

Anissa Reed of British Columbia is a supporter of the movement.

“It’s a call to the public because they’re the only people that can change this and turn it around,” she says.

Reed was born in B.C., but her family is from Bonavista. She says her connection to the sea runs deep, not just because she and her family come from both coasts, but because of her past occupations. She has worked in dive tourism, but also managed an Atlantic salmon farm years ago.

“It just felt wrong in so many ways,” says Reed.


Much of the concern over salmon that are farmed in the natural marine environment rather than on land-based facilities comes from the spread of disease back and forth from the penned salmon to wild salmon. As well, critics point to the pollution released as excess feed and fish waste sink to the ocean floor.

“My fear is salmon feedlots are going to destroy the environment in a way we’re not going to be able to recover from in our lifetime,” says Reed.

However, supporters of the local aquaculture industry say accusations made by the group are untrue. Cyr Couturier is the executive director of the Newfoundland Aquaculture Industry Association (NAIA). He says the little organic matter that does get through the pen and to the sea floor is over such a big area that the environment is capable of assimilating it.

As far as the spread of disease goes, the aquaculture industry in this province dealt with its share of problems and a dose of controversy, as well. In 2012, there were two confirmed cases of infectious salmon anemia (ISA), the second just last month.

The disease doesn’t affect people and occurs among salmon in the wild, but there is the concern that an outbreak in farmed fish will lead to increased incidents in wild salmon. Diseases are spread from farmed to wild salmon through the pens they grow in, and the threat of farmed fish escaping into the wild is an argument often used in boycotts against fish farming. There is also the argument that concentrated incidents of disease in pens provide unnatural conditions whereby diseases can mutate.

Couturier says in this province, the health-monitoring system is rigid.

“We’re very fortunate that we have a very good fish health-monitoring protocol here,” he says.

Diseases can be detected early on and, if need be, the fish can be put in quarantine. If disease is confirmed, the fish are eradicated to prevent possible spread.

This was the case with both incidents of ISA last year.

The extreme measures that must be taken when farmed fish catch a disease like ISA is used by groups such as to point to the disastrous potential salmon farms can have on wild salmon stocks.

At the same time, advocates counter the measures illustrate how responsible the industry is being.

Couturier says they are able to detect disease early on and act on it readily. There haven’t been any known cases of diseased fish escaping into the wild during the two outbreaks of salmon anemia in this province, he adds, and argues that only groups against fish farming refer to the process as net farming since the fish are

in net pens from which they rarely ever escape.

Following the second outbreak of ISA, Fisheries and Aquaculture Minister Derrick Dalley said there was nothing to worry about and that such incidents were expected in developing aquaculture industries.

Reed begs to differ.

“I think (Dalley) has been drinking the Kool-Aid,” she says.

She says even using the term “quarantine” in the industry is a joke because the fish are in net-pens that are open to the environment.

“During virus outbreaks, they talk about quarantine. My daughter who is in elementary school understands this is not possible.”

The group’s hope is that the boycott will go international. Reed says did some basic polling, and more than 50 per cent of responders in the country supported boycotting fish farms.

As of Wednesday, there were just over 2,000 supporters on the group’s website.

Organizations: Newfoundland Aquaculture Industry Association, Dalley, Kool-Aid

Geographic location: British Columbia, Bonavista, Atlantic

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5

Thanks for voting!

Top of page



Recent comments

  • JJ
    March 02, 2013 - 20:47

    Farmed salmon is capable of destroying wild stocks becuase of the rampant disease they develop. 7000 fish in a cage are ok, but 60,000 cannot withstand the crowded environment.The open pens destroy the local habitat for anything on the bottom. having a feedlot in your area destroys the possibility for good long term growth since no one wants to live next to one. They are compensated from the government for diseased fish that have to be slaughtered. Now they are getting around this by allowing these fish to come to market. It is a complicated and dangerous mess. DFO has a conflict of interest. Communities lose out.

  • swinsc
    February 08, 2013 - 08:59

    News from the UK today, more damning reports on the Industry.

  • Peter Duke
    February 03, 2013 - 21:49

    Would it be sinister of me to feed the unfit for human consumption diseased Salmon to my neighbors annoying cat in hopes that it would kill the little beast? I certainly wouldn't eat his filthy Salmon to my family as I love my children too much, but that darned annoying caterwauling cat may be unworthy enough for that garbage.

  • eddie corry
    January 16, 2013 - 12:15

    The solution to this is already present. Closed contained units on land is the answer to the future of aquaculture. Those that fail to acknowledge this will surely flounder within 5/10 years because of global pressure. People are no longer prepared to stand idle and watch the marine environment being trashed because of greed and neglect. CC are more costly initially and require more investment but the rewards are there. Temperature control, disease control, environment friendly, waste control and recycling of waste to cost benefit are all beneficial to owner and mother nature. But the problem is these people who use open pen method are being facilitated by weak govt's on the pretext of jobs and no doubt backhanders in one form or another. Mother nature does the laundry and the investors cash in.....but for how long more???

  • Adrian Lepitre
    January 04, 2013 - 18:18

    If anyone thinks farm fish are good to eat, try hanging a fillet in a smoke house and see what happens, when you open the door all the meat will be in a pile on the floor and the skin will be left hanging. This is because what looks like fat between the layers of meat is actually a parasite known as cordoa (not sure if I spelled that correctly) I have seen this first hand and it turned my stomach, I will never eat farm fish....ever..

    • Paul T
      January 13, 2013 - 17:57

      The parasite is called Kudoa thyrsites, and it is found around the world, not just in farmed Atlantic salmon. It's found in Pacific salmon species, Atlantic salmon, hake, anchovies, sole, halibut, flounder, herring, mackerel...many, many species. If you eat wild caught marine fish it's no different.

  • Duffy
    January 04, 2013 - 16:07

    Why is it that we will take anything for a few jobs and then get stuck with the reults of pollution and waste. Examples: Long Harbor Phos. Plant that closed and left poisons, Long Harbor today with Nickle that has to have a pond for poison waste, the paper Plants that have closed with poison wastes left and the lists go on. Farm Fish gives us a few jobs and in the end will destroy our Salmon Population - BUT that is what we do for a few handouts. Maybe our grandchildremn will be smarter than us. It seems that the fact is Big Companies own the Politicians and determine the outcome.

  • Wild Salmon
    January 04, 2013 - 15:21

    Help us get to the front page of Reddit! 89,000 users (currently online) can be made aware of our boycott, just click the up-vote arrow and help us significantly spread our message!

  • Farm Salmon lover
    January 04, 2013 - 13:02

    To I'm an Eco-Loon. You won't be able to buy a salmon when it is from a closed pen! Far to expensive. Go back to your Eco crazed world and get over it, salmon farming is a sustainable job, one that many people enjoy working at and enjoy. If it were up to you people we would all be living in bubbles and not allowed to step on a few rocks as to not mess with the environment.

    • Chris
      January 11, 2013 - 11:42

      To "Farm Salmon Lover" - you don't know what you're talking about, so how about pulling your head out of it. Are you an industry insider, a salmon farm employee, or just a person with a baseless opinion?

  • Duncan Steedman
    January 04, 2013 - 10:12

    The 'loons' are the short sighted, selfish farm supporters who can't get their heads around the irrefutable logic that a healthy environment and rich biodiversity are requirements for our continued well being. Salmon farms should be called sea lice farms. They get away with all the problems they're causing because consumers are blissfully unaware of how filthy they are and because governments are in bed with the billionaire owners. Intensive farming of any animal causes intensive problems every single time.

  • Laurie Watt
    January 03, 2013 - 21:23

    This is a great initiative which I fully support. Salmon feedlots allow exponential growth of sea lice and diseases which can be easily transferred into the wild. They also deplete wild stocks of small fish such as sardines and anchovies used as food - it takes two or three kilos of small wild fish to make one kilo of feedlot fish. Eagles, seals and sea lions are shot or get tangled in the nets and drown for trying to eat the caged salmon. To see more facts and some scientific research on this topic for yourself, watch the salmon farming films on this website:

  • Harvey Bellows
    January 03, 2013 - 12:45

    There was enough fish for a wild salmon fishery in NL,but government caved in to pressure from groups such as SPAWN,Atlantic salmon federation and many others to exterminate the local inshore fishery.Now most of our fish are shipped abroad unprocessed ,effectively destroying our way of life,culture,our means of making a living.What we are left with is diseased ,sick salmon being shoved down our throats.I'm glad people are finally starting to come to their senses and taking a stand for whats right.

  • Salmon Lover
    January 03, 2013 - 12:12

    I am a salmon lover and have been all my life. I like to fish it as well as eat it either fresh or smoked. The only salmon I don't particularly like is the Chilean salmon because it is farm raised and color enhanced. I would prefer to eat wild salmon as it is the best especially Atlantic as apposed to Pacific as I find the Pacific salmon lacks taste. I have no problem with farmed ocean salmon and enjoy it. I only wish that it was fed less antibiotics, etc but I also realize that it is a necessary evil. If we continue the overfishing of our oceans we will soon see all our marine food coming from farms and not the wild. The thing here is proper management of our natural resources and the other issue here is another bleeding heart, fund raising organization trying to tell industry how to go about running itself. Instead of trying to control this industry why not put your talents to use finding a better and safer way to do things. Just saying.

    • Spin on bust
      January 03, 2013 - 15:14

      Got some news for you Salmon Lover, it's not only Chilean farmed salmon that's farm raised and color enhanced. They have the same practices here. I'll take 'bleeding heart' funds telling industry how to operate rather than have industry regulate themselves. We've all seen how responsibly industry has been as stewards of public resources and health. In case you need a refresher, they're not. They will only meet the regulatory minimums, and begrudgingly at that. Enjoy funding Norwegian companies that will be gone as quickly as they came once the damage is done. All in the name of progress - right.

    January 03, 2013 - 08:29

    With the raping of the rivers and oceans by the large fishing fleets, The oceans and rivers should be helped to rebuild the fishing stock in those rivers and bays, I do not think that Growing fish in a fish farm is the answer if the fish growing farms are breading a Salmon or Cod fish that might carry some kind of a Bug that would affect all other fish stocks, I have a paper published by the DEPT OF Fisheries about 30+ years ago called "ONE IN A MILLION" That tells of how ONE COD EGG IN A MILLION, SURVIVES TO BECOME AN ADULT COD. I THINK THAT THE FISH HATCHERIES SHOULD BE USED TO HATCH COD EGGS AND OTHER FISH EGGS AND RELEASE THEM INTO PROTECTED BAYS OR COVES WHERE THEY MIGHT BREED AND HELP REBUILD THE FISH STOCK ON THIER OWN AND TRY TO BRING THE SURVIVAL RATE OF THOSE FISH THAT WAS ONE IN A MILLION 30+ YEARS AGO WHEN FISH WERE PLENTY FULL , IT MUST BE ONE IN A BILLION NOW ! By HATCHING FISH EGGS AND RELEASING THEM INTO SMALL PROTECTED BAYS OR COVES, IT MIGHT RAISE THE SURVIVAL RATE OF THE COD FISH FROM ONE IN A MILLION, 30+ YEARS AGO WHEN FISH WERE PLENTY FULL, TO THOUSANDS IN A MILLION WITH THE HELP OF A FISH HATCHERY, " MANKIND HAS DESTROYED THE FISHERY AND ITS ONLY WITH THE HELP FROM MAN THAT IT CAN and will BE REBUILT.

  • T. Sleeveen
    January 03, 2013 - 08:27

    Typical left wing dribble - Low on facts , High on conspiracy and doom. This issue is misguided to say the least. It is just more negativity from groups that know very little but panic very easily. In regard to the taste, If you don't like it don't eat it, ultimately the market will decide if this product can make it.

    • Gerry Lavery
      January 04, 2013 - 11:26

      T. Sleeveen, au contraire mon ami. There is little point starting an initiative with no research, I suggest you listen to Alexandra Morten's CBC interview on Ideas before you set fingers to keyboard. Conspiracy theories are the bastion of the those who fear change and aggressively fight to maintain the status quo regardless of the realities staring them in the face. The destruction of natural resources has no wings and business has no ethics. When you purchase your fish, at a minimum try to purchase products that carry the MSC logo (Marine Stewardship Council). This org certifies fisheries as being sustainable. It has its problems and detractors, but is better than nothing. BTW, dribble is what you do when your prostate is enlarged after consuming too much hormone laced farmed fish (OK, that was a fiction, but I had to point out that the word you want is drivel).

  • Darrell G
    January 03, 2013 - 08:22

    This is just the latest in a movement started by the Alaskan wild salmon industry to "de-market" (their word - not mine) farmed salmon. Make no mistake, these people are well funded and well organized and have timed this perfectly - slow news day after the new year. And the telegram have just given them free advertising - while most of the other newspapers recognize it for what it is and are not running it. The media should stop supporting the US wild salmon industry in its attempt to destroy jobs here in Canada!

  • Mike McEwen
    January 03, 2013 - 08:21

    Ed Fry, The only people who make comments like this are the one with a finger in the pie. There are so many people against this type of salmon farming but the trouble is at the moment the groups are segregated. I come from the UK where open net salmon farms have depleted the West Coast of Scotlands wild salmon. Wake up Ed things are moving fast and it is only a matter of time before these filthy lice ridden pens are removed from our sea. Your out of sight out of mind attitude stinks.

  • Wild Salmon for Me
    January 03, 2013 - 07:56

    I'm not against Salmon farming as such, but I am against the taste of farmed Salmon. They seem to have a larger fat content, taste fatty and the meat seems 'softer' than that of an ocean going salmon. Therefore, I have only bought farmed salmon very occasionally as a result. I will not be buying it again because of this and because of the recent disease outbreaks. We can make this a complicated issue or a simple one, as for me, I'm keeping it simple... I just don't like them! As for being an eco-zealot - well, I do care about the ocean- but if the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico didn't destroy everything in its path, I don't think a few fish farms will make much difference. I like to see facts and figures rather than some scare tactics and surmising what this may do to the ocean.

    • john
      January 03, 2013 - 08:26

      All farmed species are initially fatter, but with experience and breeding selection, producers have been able to develop very lean and healthy varieties of poultry, pork and beef.

    • ribbitribbit
      January 05, 2013 - 05:41

      SEEMS to have these things... how can you end this post with I want to see more facts ad figures when youstarted it with they SEEM to have more fat... Im not sure if any of you have noticed but the human population is getting larger very fast and there are already thousands of people going hungry. We have been farming animals and plants for years, it is time we started farming fish too. There has been evidence of diseases from fartms to the wild but there has also been incidents of disease from wild to farmed... If we dont come up with a sustainable solution of feeding the masses there will not be anything left. This article and group have very little empirical evidence to support their cause and in fact claim that tourism and sport fishing is being harmed!! Instead of watching one-sided bias report, go read a scientific paper containing all the evidence you need...Oh and stop eating cows, chickens, lamb, goats, rabbit, McDonalds, burger king, kfc, catfish, tilapia, trout, shrimp, corn, wheat, all fruit, all vegetables etc. as these are all also farmed to the detriment of wild stocks!! Wake up and stop trying to cause more problems. Try being a solution for once....!

  • Ed Fry
    January 03, 2013 - 06:45

    Leave it to the eco-zealots to do their best to destroy jobs in their misguided attempt to protect the environment. If they succeed in shutting down the salmon farms then they will start protesting the wild salmon fishery. Freakin eco-loons......

    • I'm an eco-loon
      January 03, 2013 - 07:10

      What's misguided Ed is government and industry's attempts to gloss over the real damage that open net farming does. The greedy few that are receiving short term benefits could care less about long term effects. We need sustainable jobs, not ones that cost us more than they're worth. Don't even get me started on the chemical soup they 'treat' their lots with. There will be no farmed salmon on my table until I can buy it from a source that used closed pens.