Bring Sides Together to Fight to Save Salmon

Mon. Oct. 17, 2016

Bring sides together in fight to save salmon

In a sadly ironic juxtaposition of news stories in the Oct. 13 edition of this newspaper last week, readers learned in one of the important role this province’s aquaculture industry played in raising 500 wild Atlantic salmon until they were ready to be released back into the wild; just one part of an ongoing,comprehensive and international effort to restore this vital species to at least a semblance of its former abundance.

In the other, that same aquaculture industry is slammed by the Atlantic Salmon Federation for having one of the world’s worst records for protecting the wild species, due to its use of outdated aquaculture methods that pollute Bay of Fundy waters with disease, sea lice and effluent, as well as inadvertently letting farmed salmon escape to breed with the wild variety, thus compromising its ability to propagate.

We don’t blame Fisheries Minister Rick Doucet for defending Cooke Aquaculture, the province’s leading ‘fish farmer’ and the principal sponsor of last week’s ‘flying salmon’initiative, intended to restock a sub-species of wild Bay of Fundy salmon. This project demonstrates the company’s good corporate citizenship. Doubtless there is considerable expense to such a project and it would seem to reflect the company’s sincere desire to help.

It is also worth noting that aquaculture is of considerable importance to the New Brunswick economy – worth $250 million to $300 million annually. Meanwhile wild salmon are a major attractant to sports anglers, but that is a tourism-related industry that is considerably less significant, generating $40 million in business for the New Brunswick economy every year.

However, even considered from a strictly economic standpoint, ‘green tourism’ has the potential to be one of New Brunswick’s leading economic sectors going forward and the main attraction is a clean natural environment. Should the Bay of Fundy’s wild salmon be threatened with extinction, that will hardly make for a solid selling point.

But beyond all the talk of money,healthy wild salmon stocks and a clean environment are, we expect, what the vast majority of New Brunswickers want. We urged the provincial government to bring the opposing sides together here on a regular basis to work on ways to have both – a strong aquaculture industry and a clean environment.

We can hardly expect provincial and federal governments to succeed with ‘moral suasion’ tactics with other countries that continue to harvest wild salmon if we don’t mind our own house first.