John Risley calls for moratorium on ocean-based salmon farming

Posted on May 11, 2021 | By John Risley | 14 Comments

The old adage ‘you are what you eat’ needs an update. It should be ‘you are what you eat, eats’. Modern food productions methods have changed the nutritional quality, genetics and environmental impacts of most protein sources versus their natural origins. Let’s focus on salmon.

This iconic fish is usually pictured leaping up treacherous rapids to spawn another generation which will roam thousands at miles at sea before returning, perhaps multiple times, to its river of birth. Anyone who has had the good fortune to cast a fly in pursuit of this king of fish can have nothing but respect for this vibrant, muscle-bound species’ fight for survival.

But when you show up at your local seafood vendor or choose a salmon dish from a restaurant menu, what you are likely getting is a remote cousin to its wild counterpart. It may, in fact, represent a deadly enemy to salmon’s survival. Salmon aquaculture—or salmon farming in cages in coastal areas sheltered from the ravages of the open ocean—started in Norway in the 1970s. It has since burgeoned into a globally important industry producing literally millions of tons of salmon a year. But at what cost?

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14 responses to “John Risley calls for moratorium on ocean-based salmon farming”

  1. DFO knows better than that. They know the lack of salmon in cone river was not due to fish farms but the netting of the river by the indigenous people who lived there. The salmon was practically wiped out before anything was done. Don’t blame this on aquaculture you have no idea what you’re talking about. Get the facts before you write a story.

    • Not true. There has been no Indigenous fishery on Conne River since 1992, yet salmon runs to the Conne have dropped from around 4000 in the late 1990s to less than 200 last year. Not possible for that decline to be due to the Indigenous fishery.

    • Blaming FN’s isn’t gonna work out well for you. I’m going to guess you or a family member works for one of the big three aqua companies, and it’s P’s of shite like you that are the biggest problem.

    • Lies. The decline, in fact virtual disappearance, of wild salmon in Conne River is directly related to the aquaculture industry as DFO scientists have already publicly stated. The same is true for the Bay of Fundy stocks, on most rivers in central Norway, on the west coast of Scotland and the west coast of Ireland.

  2. This is an excellent presentation of the real reason why Ocean based farming of Salmon must be eliminated. Otherwise , our grandchildren will never know what it is like having the thrill of hooking and playing the king of Fish!

    • This is actually an excellent presentation of someone in power who doesn’t know/bother to know the scientific facts about salmon aquaculture.

  3. It was a common thing back in the day to have a few salmon pens loose all their salmon when a storm hit in Nova scotia & New Brunswick.I grew up commercial salmon fishing on the Labrador coast & before it was closed down we were getting some farmed salmon in our nets.Don’t know their effects on the native salmon run if any ?? I personally wouldn’t touch a farm salmon with a 10 foot fork.

  4. Forgot to add,people all across canada are buying FARMED salmon labelled ATLANTIC SALMON thinking that they are actually buying WILD ATLANTIC SALMON,completly misleading labelling.

  5. The end of the open net pen aquaculture will come when land based operations begins full time production. The land based product is environmentally and consumer friendly and safer, it’s more delectable, it’s more sustainable etc. It’ll be so superior that the sea based product will have no market. That’s when (sea-based aquaculture) will disappear leaving unpaid loans and an environmental graveyard of abandoned Aquaculture debris and garbage along the coastline and beaches. And we will have to clean it all up. Evidence of garbage can be seen already. Where will the executives be? Tucked away someplace counting their money and laughing at us. NL could have been world leaders but sadly we probably missed the bus again.

  6. In a few hundred words, John Risley exposes most of the dangers that salmon farming entails for our environment and our health. There are many factors in the decline of wild salmon, but the issues of escapes and the spread of pathogens are part of the problem that are within our power to stop. And we must stop them. As for the comments from Susan Farquharson, they are typical of the misinformation and accusations spread by open-net salmon farmers worldwide. And she needed to finish the adage: Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but not their own facts. And her facts are flat wrong.

    • “Someone” is already in “I’ve got a book to promote” mode, aren’t they? And just as blatantly motivated by self-interest as John Risley.

  7. yes – in the Science literature this has been proven numerous times that the industry causes (in part) the declines in wild salmon populations. See:

    Then – in the article – Farquharson goes on trying to tie-in the Atlantic Salmon Federation as yet another pro-aquaculture organization while likely knowing the ASF’s stance on open net-pen industry:

    I believe she knowingly does this to obscure the line between stock enhancement and the multinational industry to make it seem more friendly & homey to the reader.

    And here’s the West Coast equivalent of the ASF:

    Both the PSF on the West Coast and the ASF on the East Coast are highly critical of the open net-pen technology and the impacts of the industry on wild stocks. Both organizations are apolitical and focused on the preservation and needs of the wild salmon. Neither started as being opposed to the open net-cage industry – but as the years went by and the data came in – revised their stances on their positions opposing the technology since “the broad body of science that demonstrates significant risk to wild Pacific salmon from open net pen aquaculture”.

    Long past time for honesty and openness from the industry and the regulators

  8. Ms. Susan Farquharson, you are the one with your factors wrong about the decline in wild Atlantic salmon populations on the Newfoundland south coast. It is not only the Conne River salmon that has declined to near extinction. The only other rivers monitored in the area are Little River and Garnish rivers; and these are also near extinction. In fact the only rivers in Newfoundland and Labrador where salmon populations are near extinct are those in the vicinity of the salmonid aquaculture sites. Stocks in areas not adjacent to the aquaculture sites are relatively healthy. You don’t have to be a scientist to read scientific literature and to realize that open net salmon aquaculture have had and is still having a serious negative impacts on salmon and sea trout populations. Maybe you should read the scientific literature before making incorrect statements. I have not seen any literature that concludes salmonid aquaculture has no effect on wild salmon. Mr. Risley is quite correct in his statements and it is time for industry to openly work with stakeholders to resolve the environmental problems and help protect the important economic benefits of the industry and protect wild salmonid populations, which by the way also has economic and cultural benefits.

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