Coastal communities and environmentalists around the province are seeing red this holiday season. The recent improved sustainability rating of N.S. farmed net-pen Atlantic salmon went from red to yellow on California based SeafoodWatch.org's consumer guide rating system, despite that its assessment was plagued by lack of data.
A yellow rating is classified as a "Good Alternative - buy but BE AWARE there are concerns with how they're caught or farmed".
Our own provincial Minister of Fisheries & Aquaculture and Cooke Aquaculture are already taking advantage of this recently *improved* consumer rating to promote this industry to the public and further push their agenda to triple the number of net-pen fin-fish farms in our local bays.
Nova Scotia was the only region in Canada to receive this yellow rating for net-pen farmed Atlantic Salmon, where as in B.C., N.B. and N.L. the recommendation to consumers was RED - AVOID, due to concerns of chemical use and threats to wild species. New Brunswick based Cooke Aquaculture is the dominant player in all three Atlantic regions of N.B., N.S. and N.L.
The threats to wild species and environmental concerns that result in a RED rating for B.C., N.B., and N.L. are largely due to fish treatments for lice, the high risk of infectious diseases like ISA and escapees from net-pens.
It is important to note:
Nova Scotia is the only province in Canada that doesn't publicly report sea lice counts,
and river monitoring data for escaped farmed fish is relatively non-existant.
As a result of this lack of public information on sea lice and escapees for the region of Nova Scotia, SeafoodWatch had to rely heavily on information provided by Cooke, the lone operator in N.S. We say that deserves a red-flag not a yellow-rating.
We think lack of public information for the region of N.S. is a red-flag, not incentive for a yellow-rating.
Additionally worth noting, the Canadian consumer seafood sustainability guide Ocean Wise Seafood Program continues to advise consumers to AVOID all Canadian raised net-pen farmed Atlantic Salmon. Visit their website here for more information.
The organization SeaChoice, Canada's seafood sustainability watchdogs have published a press release outlining all of their concerns with N.S.'s recent yellow rating by U.S.'s Seafood Watch. You can view the full Press Release document here.
A CHRISTMAS CALL TO ACTION:
During your holiday break, please write to Seafood Watch at email@example.com and Paul Withers of CBC, at Paul.Withers@cbc.ca and tell them your first-hand experiences with open-net pen salmon farms in your locality and why their “Good Alternative/Yellow Rating” on farmed salmon in N.S. is UNACCEPTABLE!
These organizations have zero local experience themselves and thus rely very heavily on publicly reported information (through government sources) or, in lieu of that, information from the fish farm company's themselves. We are certain that Seafood Watch will be shocked to learn the extent that local coastal communities, including residents, municipal councils, regional Chamber's of Commerce, Tourism Associations and Fisherman's Associations from Digby to Canso have been fighting for decades to keep these unsustainable, polluting eye-sore's called fin-fish feedlots out of our bays. These community efforts are fully supported by organizations like Ecology Action Centre, Eco Justice Canada, SeaChoice, and Atlantic Salmon Federation to name a few.