Canadian industry figures clash over salmonACFFA’s Executive Director Susan Farquharson. Photo: ACFFA

Responding to a call by John Risley for a moratorium on expansion of salmon aquaculture in Canada, the Atlantic Canada Fish Farmers Association’s executive director Susan Farquharson has accused the Clearwater Seafoods founder of failing to get his facts right.

“Atlantic Canada’s salmon farming sector will not sit idly by in silence while former wild seafood mogul John Risley, with no aquaculture experience, spouts opinions not based in fact about how salmon are grown, about our farming practices and about our globally-respected scientists,” she said.

“For someone who is calling for an informed discussion on salmon farming, Mr. Risley has displayed an astonishing lack of knowledge about Atlantic Canada’s salmon farming sector – especially for someone who has spent a career in the seafood industry and is presenting himself as a thought leader in public policy discussions.”

Susan Farquharson maintains that John Risley’s assertion that farmed salmon caused the decline of wild salmon is false, and declines in salmon populations date back more than a hundred years before salmon farming became a reality, while there are numerous other factors that also affect Atlantic salmon populations.

She also said that any informed opinion on farmed salmon must include the facts about what they eat – stating that farmed salmon get formulated feed with high quality ingredients that include proteins and fats from marine, plant, and animal sources, grains, minerals, vitamins, and carotenoids (natural compounds found in the shells of crustaceans and in a wide variety of other foods) that give farmed salmon their bright colour.

“Farmed Atlantic salmon contain significantly lower contaminants than wild salmon because feeds are more plant based than ever. That’s certainly something to consider the next time you are looking for nutritious affordable salmon. It’s farmed right here, close to home by your neighbours,” she said.

Correcting the assertion that the Canadian federal government had “ordered a shut-down in favor of land-based farming,” Susan Farquharson comments that only one salmon farming area, the Discovery Islands, has been ordered to be closed, and this has been done by the Minister purely political purposes, against the advice of scientists and DFO officials who did not recommend closure.

“Atlantic Canada has built a salmon farming sector that is uniquely our own and has always been based in science and innovation,” she said, commenting that salmon farmers are audited by third party certification programmes for their entire supply chain to provide assurance that farmed salmon is produced through environmentally and socially responsible means.

“Salmon farming also has the lowest carbon footprint of any animal protein farming method and the lowest feed to protein conversion ratio,” she said, suggesting that Mr Risley should “do some research of your own rather than allowing select anti-salmon farming activists to use you as a puppet.”

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