Lee Poirier: Salmon farming provides for our families, and feeds the world

June 18, 2018
Lee Poirier: Salmon farming provides for our families, and feeds the world
Vancouver Sun, Lee Poirier,  June 18, 2018

I am writing to voice my support for salmon farming, and hopefully shed some light on the financial and environmental reality of this important coastal industry.

I am a partner in Tidal Enterprises, a small Nanaimo-based business that provides ropes, mooring tackle, and similar equipment to the aquaculture and fishing industries. In addition to myself and my business partner our company employs five people — with good, family-supporting jobs. Myself, I’ve raised my three kids by working within both the commercial fishing and aquaculture industries — all three of my children have completed their education here on Vancouver Island and will be a part of the future on our coast.

We spend significant money with domestic manufacturers here in B.C. and across Canada such as Polysteel Atlantic, Northwest Plastics, Canada Rope and Twine, to name a few. We are constantly traveling the coast so I’m certain the hotels and restaurants in these small communities appreciate the ongoing business.

Since Tidal Enterprises was founded 12 years ago, 80 per cent of our growth has been directly related to B.C.’s growing aquaculture industry. This was generally influenced by the wild fisheries dramatic decline and much-required conservation programs implemented over the past 25 years.

When I was younger, in the late ’70s and the ’80s, I worked as a deckhand on commercial fishing boats.

I realized then just how efficient we had become at filling our holds with wild salmon. In time, it became clear we needed a sustainable strategy to relieve pressure on wild fisheries. We would need a solution to prevent what could be comparable to the collapse of the Atlantic northwest cod fishery in 1992.

We cannot keep fishing out wild stocks for food. People are not going to have a choice. If we want to eat fish it needs to be a blend of farmed and wild.

B.C.’s salmon farming industry is a best fit solution.

Fact is, more than half the fish humans eat today is farmed, and the UN recently projected that will grow to two-thirds by 2030. Way back in 1973, Jacques Cousteau wrote that with declining fish stocks we would have to learn how to farm the seas. Look it up — he was a visionary.

Any industry is going to have challenges, but with good decisions and regulations those challenges can be addressed.

In B.C., salmon farming is done right. There is plenty of informative and real science to support salmon farming sustainability in B.C. waters. Today, B.C. is a global leader in salmon farming, so much so that fish farmers from other places around the world are now getting ideas about how to farm more sustainably from what we do here. It is sustainable, well-regulated, and contributes greatly to the province’s overall economy.

Without industry we don’t have the money needed to build or maintain the things we love about our province. If we want to live on B.C.’s coast, we need some industry like salmon farming to pay for our services. We need to create jobs — especially in our smaller communities.

Salmon farming also provides a product we eat here in B.C. and a wonderful export opportunity to feed the world one of the healthiest foods on the planet. That relieves pressure on wild salmon.

That alone should be enough to inspire all British Columbians to support the industry.

We are hopeful that the overwhelming amount of supportive information that is available to the public and our government is made available and taken seriously.

Any further restrictions to the industry will have real impacts on real people’s jobs, their families, their communities, and on wild fish. To a small company like ours, salmon farming is vital.

Lee Poirier is a partner in Tidal Enterprises, which provides marine products including rope, chain, buoys, netting, and rigging hardware.

http://vancouversun.com/opinion/op-ed/lee-poirier-salmon-farming-provides-for-our-families-and-feeds-the-world