BC farmed salmon industry sets the record straight on wild salmon returns

The voice of British Columbia’s farmed salmon industry has issued a statement Friday blasting speculations from an anti-salmon-farming campaigner who linked the healthy returns of wild salmon to local rivers to the shutdown of salmon farms.

The BC Salmon Farmers Association (BCSFA) says the recent statements by Bob Chamberlin, chairman of the Indigenous-led FirstNations Wild Salmon Alliance, are contrary to data and evidence.

BCSFA’s statement comes in the wake of a report in SalmonBusiness on Wednesday. The publication sought comment from the association for that report.

See: Cooler conditions, not farm shutdowns behind healthy returns of wild salmon to BC rivers

“In his eagerness to ride the wave of good news about the potential strong returns of many species of Pacific salmon returning to rivers in BC this year, Mr Chamberlin has severely misrepresented historical data and relied on speculation to try and prove his unwavering belief that there is a relationship between wild salmon returns and salmon farms,” said Ruth Salmon, Interim Executive Director, BCSFA, on Friday.

“His soundbites may sound simple – but his facts are simply wrong.”

The trade group said that, for instance, a record-high return of 68,871 pink salmon was recorded in 2014 when a total of 12 salmon farms were active in the outmigration route. In 2020, a low return of 907 salmon were recorded (not 200 as Chamberlin claimed to media) when 11 salmon farms were active during the outmigration. This mirrored the trend coast-wide for all species of Pacific salmon.

“For many years, we’ve frustratingly been witness to anti-salmon farming campaigners going to media early with speculation and anecdotes to influence negative headlines about salmon farming in British Columbia,” added Ruth Salmon.

“However, the facts are there is no causative link, let alone a correlation, related to salmon farm activity and salmon returns,” she said. “Pink salmon returns are very volatile, so much so that one can cherry pick a single river in any year and make up a story to support their belief.”

“The facts – that never receive the same exposure from media as the criticisms – have not once supported these allegations.”


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