I am responding to Paul Smith’s Jan. 5 column headlined “Foodies and salmon farming.”
It is unfortunate Mr. Smith deprived his family of the traditional New Year’s meal, a heart healthy and nutritional salmon.
Farmed salmon are available locally, fresh all year. They are an excellent natural source of essential omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins D and E, not to mention a low fat protein that tastes great.
Salmon are part of a balanced diet and Health Canada recommends two servings per week of such fish. The fish are farmed in their natural environment, fed all natural foods and held at very low densities (typically less than two per cent of the pen volume) in enclosed net pens.
All farms are certified to internationally recognized, science-based, stringent environmental, social and food safety standards.
The farms are all family-owned, and operated by 1,000-plus proud and environmentally respectful Newfoundlanders and Labradorians working in our rural communities, supporting their families.
There have been no reductions in wild fisheries in Newfoundland and Labrador or across Atlantic Canada due to salmon farming.
In fact, lobster fisheries have more than doubled across Atlantic Canada over the past 25 years in parallel with aquaculture’s growth.
Salmon farming has assisted with the recovery of endangered salmon populations such as the lower Bay of Fundy stock.
The Conne River in Newfoundland has shown a significant increase this year well above its five-year average, in spite of growth in salmon farming in the area.
Smith knows wild salmon populations have been in decline since the 1960s, well in advance of aquaculture, and salmon rivers across Eastern Canada continue to show poor recovery in areas void of salmon farms to this day.
Mr. Smith’s suggestion to put farms on land is ill-informed; this is not their natural environment, they will be raised at unnaturally high densities and the environmental costs will be very much greater than net pen culture.
Moreover, land-based salmon farms will not prevent wild fish from being exposed to the main challenges to their recovery, including natural diseases, predation, uncontrolled poaching, climate change, river barriers, pollution, at-sea mortality, etc.
Ocean-based salmon farms will continue to be part of the solution to feeding humans in a responsible manner in this rapidly growing and increasingly hungry world of limited fishery and restricted arable land masses.