With a rash of recent reports over diseases associated with salmon aquaculture, the mainstream US media appears to finally be taking notice. A timely feature article out in the Seattle Times today focuses on the debate raging over salmon aquaculture, and offers a relatively well rounded glimpse into the perspectives of many of the major players. Time's journalist Craig Welch interviewed Canadian Activist Alexandra Morton who has been at the center of the fight over salmon aquaculture, as well as several industry representatives and two leading scientists in the field Dr. Thomas Quinn and Dr. Ray Hilborn from UW Fisheries.
While Morton has been lightning rod for controversy, a growing body of scientific evidence supports her assertion that open net pen salmon aquaculture can spread parasites and disease to adjacent wild populations leading to dramatic declines. In general the Canadian Federal Government, BC's Provincial Government and the Salmon Farming industry have aggressively fought to limit regulations on the industry and protect salmon farms from public scrutiny, a strategy that is increasingly backfiring as news of disease outbreaks in both farmed and wild salmon has spread. In a last ditch effort to curb the flow of information about diseases in salmon farms the BC provincial government has proposed a law that would make it illegal for the media, or private citizens to share information about disease on salmon farms. This is an extremely dangerous precedent that would stifle public discussion and limit the ability of the public to understand the impacts of aquaculture on their aquatic and marine ecosystems.