Tag Archives: sustainablity

I do not think that word means what you think it means

A weird letter is making the rounds in Lower Mainland newspapers, in which the author tries to explain why salmon are “sacred.”

The author says that like blood in a human circulatory system, salmon cycles “nourish all the ‘cells’ of this part of the world.”

The author also states that “When we say ‘salmon are sacred’, we are not making it so by our declaration. It is so, with or without us.”

Well, actually, that word doesn’t mean what you think it means, Ian Stephen.

 060413 sacred

Salmon are important. They are an important part of our ecosystem and feed many animals and people. Conservation of salmon – which includes salmon aquaculture – plays an important part of that conservation.

But are they dedicated to a religious purpose? Hallowed by the gods? Sacrosanct?

Where is the line drawn between sacred and ordinary? From your example, is our circulatory system sacred? Are the bears that eat the salmon sacred too? What about the plankton the salmon eat? Is that sacred? Do they make it sacred by eating it, like some sort of piscine immaculate conception?

It’s good that people feel salmon are important. But pushing the discussion about our environment into the realm of theology is, well, kooky.

It’s also a not-so-subtle attempt at special pleading. Make the belief you want to hold untouchable because it’s “sacred,” and no one can question you without looking like a bad guy.

Anyone who dares question it, gets a stoning! A Stoning!

Instead of playing theology with salmon, let’s try and find things we can all agree on. We can all agree that salmon are important. We can all agree that they are an important part of our coast. And we can all agree that we want them here forever.

Conservation of salmon – which includes salmon aquaculture – plays an important part in keeping our wild salmon.

Let’s find some common ground and move beyond the religious, polarizing language. That would truly help the salmon we all love.

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.