Marine Tourism Operators Speak Out Against Salmon Farms
Over 75 owners express concerns for 26,000 jobs and $1.5 billion in annual expenditures
VICTORIA - Seventy-five independent business operators and business associations are jointly calling on the B.C. government to protect the province’s wild salmon economy. Concerned by the severe decline of many B.C. salmon stocks, the operators point to growing evidence of the impacts of disease originating on salmon farms.
In an open letter to the Provincial ministers responsible for making decisions about salmon farming tenures (leases), the operators say that they are “uniting to express our grave concern about the negative effects of open-net fish farming on wild stocks” and highlight the immense value of marine-based tourism to the provincial economy. The industry provides employment for 26,000 people and attracts expenditures of $1.5 billion annually.
K’odi Nelson and Jared Towers of Alert Bay, B.C. began the initiative to reach out to other tourism operators to see if they were equally concerned.
“We were extremely pleased by the support that came back from the industry,” said Nelson, of Sea Wolf Adventures. “We had pretty limited time to do the outreach and it’s getting into busy season, but the response was very strong and positive.”
Nelson says that diminishing stocks of wild fish hurt every operator in the marine and wilderness tourism business.
“It doesn’t matter if you’re doing bird counts, grizzly viewing or sport fishing, the loss of wild fish stocks is devastating. We’ve seen the fish just disappear from places where they’ve always been plentiful, leaving the bears to starve.”
The operators are calling on the B.C. government to freeze salmon farm production levels province-wide, lift the veil of secrecy that surrounds the farms, work with the federal government to transition them to land-based operations and rebuild wild salmon stocks without delay.
“We’ve become extremely concerned by the news of diseases being imported to B.C. by these farms,”said Kevin Smith of Maple Leaf Adventures. “Our native salmon stocks don’t stand a chance if we’re pouring foreign diseases over the smolts headed out to sea and the adults returning to spawn. The only answer is to separate the farmed Atlantics in closed containment.”
“Our coastal communities depend on tourism as the mainstay of the local economy,” said Georgia Murray of Nimmo Bay Resort, a fishing, wilderness and wildlife adventure business in the Broughton Archipelago. “We, as front liners, know the damage that is done by salmon farms. So Nimmo Bay Resort stands with the other marine tourism businesses and First Nations against the continuation of fish farming in its current form in the waters of our coast. Move to close containment farming on land.”
K’odi Nelson, Sea Wolf Adventures (Grizzly Bear Viewing), Alert Bay: 250-974-3822
Georgia Murray, Nimmo Bay Resort, Port McNeill, Victoria: 778-587-1420
Kevin Smith, Maple Leaf Adventures (Wilderness Cruises) Victoria: 250-881-3671
Karen Wristen, Living Oceans Society 604-696-5044