A couple of summer’s ago Brittney was in Seattle when she and a couple of friends stopped in a sushi restaurant for lunch. One of her friend’s asked the waitress before ordering if the salmon roll was made from farmed or wild salmon.
“Oh it’s farmed,” said the waitress without a sliver of embarrassment, “but that’s good because it doesn’t have any of the toxins or parasites of wild fish.”
You can’t make this stuff up. Nobody ordered the salmon.
It’s incredible that in an age where virtually every question can be answered by a piece of metal that fits in our pocket, we remain so uninformed, so ignorant, using the power of wi-fi for cat videos and time lapsed food recipes.
And while I’m sure the server was just trying to say what she thought Brittney and her friends wanted to hear. The farmed fish propaganda was far from true. Quite the opposite actually.
Since their arrival in the water’s off Vancouver Island in the early 80s, the salmon farm industry has been cloaked in a web of controversy, cover ups, and deceit. Fish farmers swore that with their technology, that the farmed Atlantic salmon could not escape.
When fisherman began to find Atlantic salmon in their nets, the industry promised that they could not procreate in the wild.
They did. The more aggressive Atlantic salmon rooting out their native Pacific brethren from their already threatened streams.
The location of the pens near estuaries has led to a decades long fight to bring attention to sea lice. These sea lice, while relatively benign to fully grown fish, latch on to young, defenseless salmon fry and have threatened the livelihood of several Pink salmon stocks.
The latest news from those on the front line is perhaps the most disturbing of all. A virus that decimated the farmed salmon industry in Chile back in 2007 has been found in both farmed and wild salmon along the B.C coast.
The good news is the whistle blower, biologist Alexandra Morton uncovered the virus early. “We never found the whole virus, just pieces of it,” she reported to the CBC. One reason for this though is the closed door policy of the farmed fish industry. A closed door and hush hush policy is never an indicator of respectable or ethical practices. There’s a reason slaughter houses run off anyone with a camera. Morton and her team were able to take samples from “healthy” farmed salmon, usually ones that were already on the market. Potentially sick or diseased salmon that could be in the pens as we speak are hidden from sight.
The fish farm industry’s silence in damning enough evidence and the latest in a line of embarrassing failures in which the Canadian government has looked the other way. No criminal charges were filed against Imperial Metal’s, the company responsible for the burst Mount Polley dam in August of 2014 https://raincoastwanderings.com/2015/03/07/worth-so-much-more/.
In fact, Imperial Metal’s is now refilling the site of the burst dam. That’s what happens when you “donate” $234,000 to B.C Liberals. Remind me of this the next time I complain about America’s corrupt political system.
“What evil, thieving people,” we say. We shake our fist and…. what? We go back to our cat videos, we look out the window and the world looks the same. A storm rages right now in Blackney Pass and shakes the window. If there is a deadly salmon virus rolling along the flooding tide right now, it’s not giving itself away. What will it take for change? Will we wait until it’s too late? Until wild salmon are nothing but a myth? Our grandchildren wondering if they ever really existed?
Let’s not let that happen. Boycott farmed salmon, hell, boycott the stores that sell farmed salmon. Take away the demand, destroy the supply. And speak up. Let Justin Trudeau and the Liberal Party know that what is happening in the water’s off B.C is bullshit. That no profit is worth the potential death of an entire ecosystem. Do it now, before you leave your computer, before your busy day continues and it slips from your mind. Let’s stand with Alex Morton and the tireless watch dogs that have been battling this for years. Write to the Liberal Party here: https://www.liberal.ca/contact/
To my American and global readers remember, the ocean is not a closed system. A pandemic doesn’t care about international boundaries, the distance from B.C to the southeast panhandle is not great. If it breaks out here, there’s no reason that it can’t travel north, south, east, west. We must stop caring about just ourselves and what is happening just in our backyard. The natural resources of this planet belong to all of us. And when one stock is threatened, we are all threatened.
We are a race that has cut ourselves off from the natural world. But we are not above it. We are, in the end, at its mercy. We cannot survive without it.