Anti-salmon farming billboards removed over false claims
An advertising campaign in Ottawa had called for Canadians to “remove all salmon farms from B.C. waters.”
Controversial anti-salmon farming billboards in Ottawa, sponsored by eco-activist group Wild First, have been removed following a dispute over false advertising.
These billboards claimed that “Open-net pen salmon farms are banned in Washington, Oregon, California, and Alaska,” as part of a campaign to remove salmon farming from British Columbia waters.
The Canadian Aquaculture Industry Alliance (CAIA) countered these claims, demonstrating that finfish farming, including salmon, is indeed legal in California, Oregon, and Washington. In Alaska, net pens are routinely used for salmon cultivation.
Tim Kennedy, President and CEO of CAIA, commented on the decision to remove the ads, stating, “In an age of misinformation, we are pleased that the right thing happened – false ads that did not stand up to the truth test were removed.”
Kennedy criticized the activists for attempting to influence Ottawa’s policy based on “old data and false information,” stressing the negative economic impact on British Columbia’s businesses and employees.
Evidence presented to the billboard agency refuted the activists’ claims, showing state regulations in California that permit marine finfish farming.
In Washington, the marine farming of native fish species has been encouraged since the 1985 Aquaculture Act, with no existing ban on net pen use. Kennedy also noted that in Alaska, “the use of net pens is common practice in their salmon aquaculture programs,” as detailed in the Alaska Department Fish and Game’s Salmon Fisheries Enhancement Report.
In 2020, the Canadian Science Advisory Secretariat (CSAS) published nine peer-reviewed reports that concluded that salmon farming in British Columbia poses “no more than a minimal risk of harm to the Fraser River Sockeye salmon.”
Before government-directed shutdowns since 2020, the BC salmon farming sector was the largest agri-food export for the sector. The sector employed approximately 6,500 people, produced close to 500 million salmon meals per year, received inputs from over 1,000 individual suppliers and had an economic value of CAD 2 billion (US$1.5 billion).