The Aquaculture Association of Nova Scotia (AANS) welcomes the attention of Herald columnist Brenda MacDonald towards aquaculture initiatives in the province. MacDonald suggests she knows how to ask good questions, and she puts forward several in her column. At the AANS, we’re good at answering questions with facts, direct experience, and science.
MacDonald’s main issue appears to be the health of farmed salmon at the supermarket. She seems to believe that the Canadian Food Inspection Agency is willing to risk the health and well being of Canadians by allowing a product to be sold that poses some danger to humans. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency holds the aquaculture industry to the same standard as all types of food production; tainted or unwholesome fish are never allowed to be processed and sold.
Is there a way to have healthy farmed fish without jeopardizing or harming wild fish stocks and other marine life in any way? Yes, and it’s being done every day in our province right now. Modern aquaculture practices are aimed at reducing any impact on the local marine environment. Fish farms simply do not jeopardize wild fish stocks. Sea farmers seek to reduce or eliminate any possible interaction between farmed and wild fish, because it’s in the best interest of both the farmed and wild salmon.
Is there a way to generate new jobs in fish farming without jeopardizing existing jobs in tourism and lobster fishing? Certainly, and it’s being done here and now. Many salmon farmers either come from lobster fishing families or are still in the lobster fishery now, and they know the two industries can not only work together but also thrive in the same areas. Consider the tourism industries in St. Andrews, NB, in Ireland, in Scotland and Norway. These are all major areas of salmon farming as well as prime tourist locations.
As for learning from the experiences, mistakes, and successes of other fish farms and facilities all across the globe, that’s exactly what is being done. Nova Scotian sea farmers have a half-century of worldwide experience to draw upon, and have applied those lessons to their current operations. Low stocking densities, extensive fallowing, and isolation from wild salmon rivers are all standard practice now.
It is important to know the AANS supports both net-pen and land-based farmers. The world is looking at NS sea farmers as leaders in many ways, including land-based farming. But, it is important to remember that a movement from marine- to land- based farming means a trade off of interactions. There are benefits and disadvantages to both systems, and farmers must be careful to consider the full implications of their choices. One is not necessarily better than the other; both require a proper amount of planning and attention and must comply with all government regulations.
By looking at the facts about the aquaculture industry, Nova Scotians will discover we have world-class aquaculture producers, adhering to strict environmental standards, producing a great tasting, high quality, and above all healthy product.