Lay Off the Lox

Lay Off That Lox, Canadian Filmmakers Tell New Yorkers
Nov. 6, 2013

Halifax, NS—"New Yorkers love their lox," says Nova Scotia writer and filmmaker Silver Donald Cameron. "But how many of them know that the salmon they're eating has been dyed, drugged and bathed in pesticides to rid it of sea lice?"

What New Yorkers call “LOX” is Atlantic salmon – and all Atlantic salmon being sold commercially comes from feedlots in the sea.

"The fish are raised in 'net pens,' which are just bags of netting hanging in the ocean with up to a million fish in each net," Cameron explains. "A huge sack jammed with salmon is a prime target for diseases and parasites, which the industry combats by lacing the feed with antibiotics and giving the fish regular baths in solutions of pesticide. Furthermore, the sea bottom under the cages is toxic, because over the course of a grow-out cycle, that mass of fish produces enough feces to fill a jumbo jet."

And what about the dye?

"In the wild, salmon eat krill and shrimp and other small sea creatures, and that food gives them their unique and lovely color. But farmed salmon don't eat those things, so unless they're dyed, their flesh is the color of putty."

“We explain all this in the film.”

"The film" is a feature-length documentary called "Salmon Wars" – and it's a unique form of political protest. Salmon farms are expanding aggressively in Nova Scotia, and people in coastal communities are vigorously fighting the expansion, which threatens the all-important tourism and lobster industries. Cameron and his colleague Chris Beckett made the film on a shoestring budget provided entirely by citizen donations. They sought out scientific expertise as far away as Toronto, Seattle and Vancouver as well as visiting the affected communities and talking with representatives of government and industry.  The film has been shown scores of times in community halls and auditoriums, aired on local cable, and watched by hundreds of people over the internet. .

“I don’t think there’s any doubt that the film has been very effective,” Cameron says. “It’s helped to push this issue to the top of the political agenda down home.”

Cameron and Beckett will be in New York from November 12 through 16, doing a presentation about Salmon Wars for the Atlantic Salmon Federation's board meetings, attending the conservation organization’s annual fund-raising dinner at The Plaza, and collecting interviews with leading environmentalists for their continuing project,TheGreenInterview.com. It's a perfect opportunity to help New Yorkers understand the real nature of their beloved lox.

"If you eat Atlantic salmon, you ought to know where it comes from and how it's produced -- and our film tells you," Cameron says. "Some scientists say you shouldn't eat  farmed Atlantic salmon more than six times a year."

The Atlantic Salmon Federation (ASF) (www.asf.ca) is dedicated to the conservation, protection and restoration of wild Atlantic salmon and the ecosystems on which their wellbeing and survival depend. ASF has a network of seven regional councils (New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Newfoundland and Labrador, Prince Edward Island, Quebec, Maine and Western New England).  The regional councils cover the freshwater range of the Atlantic salmon in Canada and the United States.