Beginning today and running for the next 10 days, members of the Pure Salmon Campaign, an international coalition advocating for higher standards for farm raised salmon, will meet with a variety of Norwegian stakeholders to provide first-hand accounts of the environmental threats linked to salmon farming.
Current industry practices used by Cermaq, the world's second largest producer of farmed salmon, threaten wild salmon populations. In Canada, Cermaq's open net farms interfere with wild salmon's natural migratory paths. These nets act as incubators for parasites such as sea lice, which concentrate around the farms and overwhelm the tiny wild salmon. Consequently, these parasites can decimate wild salmon whose natural migratory patterns intersect with the nets.
“By placing these open nets in the path of wild salmon, Cermaq is effectively breaking the natural laws,” said Alexandra Morton, director of the Salmon Coast Field Station. “This shows a blatant disregard for the natural ecosystem of the area. Preservation of wild salmon depends upon the relocation of open net salmon farms.”
Wild salmon play a critical role in Canada's ecology, providing sustenance for many predators such as orcas, bald eagles and grizzly bears. This fish also represents a regional cultural symbol.
“Wild salmon have always been an integral part of our lives,” said Chief Bob Chamberlin of the Musgamagw Tsawataineuk Council in British Columbia. “If conditions don't improve, our way of life as a coastal people may be destroyed forever.”
The Norwegian Ministry of Trade & Industry holds 43.5 percent of Cermaq shares, making it the largest company shareholder.
“Studies have exposed the problems of Cermaq's salmon farms for years,” said Andrea Kavanagh of the Pew Environment Group, a member of the Pure Salmon Campaign coalition. “It's time for Norway to step up to the plate and hold Cermaq accountable to strict environmental standards.”
In addition to meeting with Norwegian-based stakeholders, including Members of Parliament, scientists, river owners and fishermen, representatives of the global Pure Salmon Campaign will attend Cermaq's annual general meeting in Oslo on Wednesday, May 20.
Two shareholder resolutions have been submitted to Cermaq on behalf of the Pure Salmon Campaign. The first resolution requests the establishment of a special board committee to review environmental practices. The second Cermaq resolution asks the company to produce a yearly corporate social responsibility report, such as a review of the firm's environmental record. To read these resolutions, go to http://www.puresalmon.org/pdfs/Cermaq2009resolutions.pdf.
Pew is no longer active in this line of work, but for more information, visit the Salmon Aquaculture Reform campaign.