Monthly Archives: October 2010

New sustainability index (GAPI) raises good questions

A new environmental sustainability score card for finfish fish farming is quite revealing for a number of reasons.

Let us be clear. We support discussion around seafood sustainability. But, as you can imagine, we are getting quite skeptical of public relations stunts disquised as ‘science’. This important discussion needs to be part of a broader base that deals with food sustainability (cost/benefit) and not just a narrow focus on just one type of protein and one method of growing that protein. Frankly, it diminishes the relevance of efforts like GAPI.

First, the Global Aquaculture Performance Index (GAPI) again reveals the true agenda of the Pew Charitable Trust. Along with the help of John Volpe, both group and individual are well known to dream up ways of attacking aquaculture, especially salmon farming. (for those who don’t remember, Pew was behind the bogus ‘PCB in salmon’ scare back in 2004).

Secondly, it is highly suspect that this index system’s only focus is aquaculture – and finfish aquaculture specifically. As a result, there is really no benchmark to understand how the rankings of each fish species and country might compare to traditional fisheries and aquaculture hybrid programs (ie. salmon ranching). A few other concerns;

  • GAPI is not peer reviewed. Accuracy is therefore unknown (although “peer review” doesn’t guarantee that either!)
  • Focus on environmental sustainability only. Should include other pillars of sustainability.
  • Impact targets are set at zero (what in this world is zero impact?)
  • If aquaculture density is reduced, as this study suggests, then how does the increased consumption of other proteins affect global food sustainability?

Lastly, and most importantly, the GAPI study indicates that countries such as the U.K., U.S.A., Norway and Canada are far ahead in sustainability due to rigid regulation and effective production practices. If some environmentalists had their way, they would reduce or eliminate fish farming in these countries, thus increasing production in developing countries that, according to the GAPI results, score comparitively low on environmental sustainability.

Canada is a producer of farm-raised Atlantic salmon – a species that scores third highest on the GAPI sustainability index. Canada production levels are relatively small on a global scale – and low production densities are recommended in the GAPI analysis. So understanding this global perspective, you’d think Canadian environmental groups would be applauding and encouraging Canadian aquaculture…

Sorry, got caught dreaming again.

Does “multi-national” have a place in the salmon farming debate?

Tim Horton’s, Molson Beer, Labbatt’s, Canadian National Railway. All celebrated Canadian companies…but did you know they are also scary multi-national conglomerats? Does anyone really care about multi-nationals when you’re ordering your very good, very cheap double-double?

Today, there is a flotilla of salmon farming protesters milling around Vancouver, British Columbia to voice their opinions to Judge Bruce Cohen at start of the Cohen Commission (a judicial inquiry looking into the decline of the Fraser River sockeye salmon). They are a familiar group of people – many paid to protest BC salmon farms.

One strategy used by these activists is to scare the public into believing that BC salmon farmers are mean, uncaring, multi-nationals who could give a damn about the health of British Columbia’s wild salmon. This couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact, the 3000 people directly employed as salmon farmers and processors in BC all are Canadian citizens and all care deeply for our natural resources.

Now for the hypocricy.

The two leads in this campaign aimed at scaring the consumer away from farmed salmon and directing them to purchase only wild salmon, are a fella by the name of Don Staniford and a gal named Alexandra Morton. And as you may have guessed, both probably can’t recall the words to “Oh Canada”.

Don Staniford:   Born in England. Not a Canadian citizen. Works for Pure Salmon, a U.S. based activist group dedicated to attacking salmon farming and funded by the PEW Foundation. The Pew Foundation is a U.S. based philanthropic fund that is infamous for it’s funding and promotion of a study of PCB’s in farmed salmon, and incorrectly reported that consumption should be limited (the truth is most foods have PCB’s, including wild salmon). Mr. Staniford was found guilty in 2007 of making malicious and defamatory statements against a salmon farming company and was ordered to pay damages – he never did pay, and instead, fled the country.

Alexandra Morton:   Born in Connecticut, U.S.A.  Became a dual citizen (Canadian/American) in 1997. Settled in an area near Port McNeill, BC (Broughton Archipelago) and decided that it was her backyard and not fit for Canadian business (true NIMBY). Has been actively fighting against salmon farms in BC since 1988. Has received an honourary biology degree and doctorate from like minded organizations. Ms. Morton has not provided information on her funding sources, but admits to accepting U.S. based funds. Has worked within various societies that all have one purpose – to end salmon farming.

So, maybe it’s best we keep nationality out of this debate. For one, it shouldn’t matter and secondly, it’s a tad bit racist, and lastly, it seems critics of salmon farming are the foreigners.

Maybe Judge Bruce Cohen should rely on science to provide some answers to his questions? Sorry, got caught dreaming there for a second…

your own backyard

Submitted by Judd Moary (not verified) on October 27, 2010 – 16:37.

How about we Canadians run our own country. The USA has enough to worry about, so take your protestors back and find them jobs. We don’t need them telling us what they think and we don’t want to be a big park for Americans to come and visit.