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Photo: Ivan Alexis

Pamela Anderson & Sea Shepherd Join Forces to Oppose Farmed Salmon

On July 18, Sea Shepherd, in collaboration with biologist Alexandra Morton, environmentalist David Suzuki and actor/activist Pamela Anderson, launched Operation Virus Hunter to investigate the environmental impacts and legality of salmon farming along Canada’s Pacific coast.

Official dietary advice from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) encourages people to eat the fish. However, not all salmon are created equally.

“Salmon farms keep pens in the ocean, where the fish swim in their own feces, and breed disease and sea lice that kill wild salmon, threatening the orca’s ability to feed,” argues Anderson.

Although there is a growing movement to sustainably farm salmon, it will likely be a long swim upstream before large-scale environmentally friendly farmed salmon is sold in stores worldwide.

Despite the negative environmental impacts that Anderson brought up (which have been substantiated), farmed varieties dominate roughly 60 percent of the commercial salmon market. The Washington State Department of Health goes so far as to belittle the environmental concerns and encourage consumers to eat both wild and farmed species.

“The salmon farming industry thrives on secrecy, shrouding its activities from public view,” says Morton, who has been studying associated environmental impacts for years.

The Dream Team. From left to right: David Suzuki, Alexandra Morton, Chief Ernie Crey and Pamela Anderson. (Photo Credit: Ivan Alexis, courtesy of Sea Shepherd)

The Dream Team. From left to right: David Suzuki, Alexandra Morton, Chief Ernie Crey and Pamela Anderson. (Photo Credit: Ivan Alexis, courtesy of Sea Shepherd)

To shed light on the underbelly of the farmed fish trade, Morton will join Sea Shepherd’s vessel, the Martin Sheen, for the next several weeks to inspect salmon farming operations along the wild salmon migratory route between mainland Vancouver and Vancouver Island.

According to Morton’s organization, Raincoast Research Society, government agencies surveyed “fishermen, tourism operators and other local interest groups” in 1988 to assess the areas with high concentrations of wild salmon and “to mark where they would not like to see fish farms.” Two years later, fish farming boomed in precisely the areas local stakeholders didn’t want them.

“The Department of Fisheries and Oceans chooses foreign salmon famers over our title and rights again and again,” said First Nations Chief Ernie Crey. “Ninety-four Nations of the Fraser River view wild salmon as being essential to who they are… The recent salmon declines are a threat to our existence and we hold salmon farms as one of the culprits.”

Sea Shepherd’s founder Paul Watson insists that the foreign farmed Atlantic salmon “simply do not belong in these waters.”

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