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  • Volume Eight, Number Five: July 2003

     Salmon Farms a Bust, says New Report

    The BC Liberal regime may be sold on the idea, but a new economic study claims the expansion of industrial salmon farming increases environmental and health risks and creates only a few jobs in the process.

    The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives released the study in Vancouver last week.

    ”Industrial salmon aquaculture will deliver no or few new jobs in BC, even if the industry doubles in size,” says Dale Marshall, resource policy analyst and author of the study. “What’s more, the industry produces relatively few jobs and minimal economic benefits to the provincial economy right now.”

    The study, called Fishy Business: The Economics of Salmon Farming in BC, shows that wild marine fisheries create seven times more jobs and wages compared to industrial salmon aquaculture in BC. In addition, wild fisheries are worth more than four times as much in terms of provincial GDP, and more than three times as much in terms of BC’s exports.

    “Fish farm expansion is being dangled before coastal communities as a panacea for jobs and economic stability. But this is a false promise,” says
    Marshall. “The fact is, running a fish farm takes very few people. And the record in BC, and major fish farm jurisdictions like Norway and Scotland, is that over time, fish farm operations require fewer and fewer workers.”

    The study also warns that the economic risks posed by industrial salmon aquaculture to BC’s lucrative coastal wild fisheries could be tremendous.

    “We’re basically playing Russian Roulette with our coastal-dependent economies – without knowing how many bullets are in the chamber,” he said. “The scientific community has already shown that there are risks to other marine industries, such as wild salmon fisheries, tourism and sport fishing,” he adds.

    Salmon farm expansion is becoming a big controversy for coastal communities, and many community leaders are reportedly cooling to the idea after seeing some of the results.

    “The fact is, wild fisheries are not only our most important economic drivers, they’re critical to us culturally. That’s why our tribe has adopted a strict no fish farm policy. It’s just not worth the risk,” says Chief Charlie Williams. Williams is the Hereditary Chief of Gwawaenuk and President of the Kwakiutl Territorial Fisheries Commission in
    Alert Bay.

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