It contains a common virus in farmed salmon that is deadly to wild salmon.
The war on wild salmon escalated during the Harper years as wild salmon were viewed as mere complications to environmental assessments of resource development projects. A year into the Trudeau Liberal government, it appears little has changed.
There's a grim life or death struggle taking place in the Pacific Northwest, where most of Canada's salmon lives. Mounting scientific research paints a disturbing picture: Farmed salmon are threatening the very survival of their wild counterparts.
While B.C. salmon runs are greatly diminished from historic levels, what is left is world-class and definitely worth fighting for. Wild salmon face a multitude of challenges, but aquaculture is one which is entirely within our ability to regulate.
The salmon farming industry has long been banned in Alaska, where it's believed to be a threat to the state's healthy wild salmon populations. But that's not the case in Canada, where Norwegian-owned aquaculture multinationals have done a terrific job of winning over the federal government.
When you are a multi-billion dollar, foreign-owned industry continuously mired in controversy over your environmental record, you have but two options: you clean up your act, or you clean up your image. The latest public relations offensive from B.C. salmon farmers leaves little doubt that for them, image is everything.
AquaBounty Inc. sought and was granted approval to manufacture genetically-modified AquAdvantage salmon eggs at a facility in Prince Edward Island, ship those eggs to Panama for grow-out, and then sell the salmon as food in North America. Outcry and opposition was swift, particularly in reaction to news that the FDA will not require genetically-modified salmon to be labelled.
In British Columbia, salmon are sacred. For centuries, they have nourished First Nations and settlers alike, and continue to sustain virtually all of the wildlife we cherish in B.C.: orcas, eagles, bears, seals and sea lions, wolves and even our forests. Wild salmon make life possible on the West Coast. So why are our federal and provincial governments trying to kill them? I do not speak of simple neglect. I mean actively working towards the destruction of wild salmon.
The David Suzuki Foundation and others have run ads over the past decade decrying British Columbia's open net-cage salmon farm industry. With significant expansion planned for the West Coast, the question remains: Has B.C.'s salmon farm industry improved?
With March 24 marking the 25th anniversary of the Exxon Valdez oil spill, this disaster provides a lens into considering the Enbridge Northern Gateway project and the risk it poses to wild salmon, one of our country's greatest natural assets.