Opinions are one thing. but in the future please stick to the basic facts

January 29, 2010

Letter to the Editor, Courier-Islander, January 29, 2010

I'm a BC salmon farmer and take pride in my work. I'm also proud of those people I work with - hard working and honest Campbell Riverites.

But I find it disheartening that the Courier-Islander seems to be a favourite venue for individuals or organizations with a hate on for aquaculture to attack my career and also the character of those friends I work with.

A recent letter to the editor (Empty words, Van Egan, Jan. 20) is a prime example of this - a personal attack mixed with misinformation or lies.

Mr. Egan apparently took exception to a recent letter that Mary Ellen Walling, Director of the BC Salmon Farmers Association, wrote to correct a past letter writer that wrongly quoted the final report of the Pacific Salmon Forum.

In response, Mr. Egan called Ms. Walling a "hack" and "trained in the ways of deceit". Anyone who has met Mary Ellen knows that she is one of the most honest and kind-hearted ladies who cares deeply for communities on the North Island. But apparently ad hominem attacks weren't enough, so Mr. Egan also thought it best to throw in a couple of "non-truths" for good measure;

No. 1 - Mr. Egan states that "fish farming is not allowed" in Alaska. Wrong. Salmon aquaculture (or salmon ranching as it is referred to) has been practiced for decades in Alaska. In fact, aquaculture produces over 40 per cent of Alaska's annual salmon catch. In fact, Alaska hatcheries and ranching program produces three times the amount of salmon than BC salmon farmers (60 million vs. 20 million respectfully).

No. 2 - Mr. Egan then claims that BC salmon farmers refuse close-containment systems only because of "cost". Nonsense. BC salmon farmers have always been interested in these systems - in fact our hatcheries (where our fish spend 1/3 their life) are all closed contained. But these systems have not yet been developed to successfully grow our fish to harvestable size. Yes, cost is a factor, but not the only factor. Past and present trials have yet to show desired environmental benefits mainly due to the vast amounts of energy required to produce each fish. Regardless, BC salmon farmers are always willing to give new technology a try to see if we can improve the way we farm.

No. 3 - Lastly, Mr. Egan suggests that BC farmed salmon is "laced with chemicals (and) they dare not sell them". Absolute hogwash. Actually I'm more disappointed with the editor of the Courier-Islander to allow that libelous comment to make it to print.

While I'm happy our local papers provide a venue for community members to voice their opinions on matters of interest, perhaps it's best that we to stick to fact and avoid baseless personal attacks.

Mike O'Keeffe,

Campbell River