Talk to salmon farmers to get the real story

November 13, 2009

Letter to the Editor, Campbell River Courier Islander, November 13, 2009

I have sat back and watched the ongoing reporting in your paper as to the risks and benefits of salmon farming.

To be honest, you rarely report on the benefits, but often on the "risks". This will be a first for me - it's time for me to speak up.

I used to get my information about salmon farming from newspaper headlines or third party chatter.

This is influential, but hardly a good way to form an opinion.

My opinion about salmon farming was no doubt negative. Why would it have been any different given the headlines?

First, I need to be transparent. I'm a local business owner who has recently begun working with a local salmon farming company.

About one third of my business now involves me visiting BC salmon farms around the Campbell River area. Does this make me a paid hack who has no credibility? On the contrary, it's now given me an opportunity to see this business for myself, ask questions of knowledgeable people and compare it to what I had heard and read.

The fact is, now that I have seen first hand how the farmers manage their operations, my opinion has been changed. I can see that the benefits of growing a healthy seafood like salmon far, far outweigh the potential impacts. I am personally blown away at the attention paid to protecting the environment, the safety of the staff and the care of the fish. The people I meet on the farms are very open about their business and are clearly excited to do what they do. They are very open to discuss the concerns I may have and explain what they do to minimize or eliminate those concerns.

Here's my point; if you've formed a negative opinion of salmon farming because of newspaper headlines, but haven't made the effort to visit a farm or talk to a farmer, you should do so. In fact, the Association that represents our local farmers runs tours every Thursday morning during the summer months.

Don't believe all you read - I recommend you go and learn for yourself.

Rick Butterfield,

Campbell River