Published by Edible Vancouver, Winter 2010
Author: Jeff Nield
Bruce Swift talks like any other farmer dedicated to local markets and integrated systems. He talks about how the “no-brainer” of recycling nutrients produced by a farming operation is “Farming 101.” But Swift isn’t growing ground crops with composted manure from the chicken barn or heirloom tomatoes in a greenhouse. He’s farming salmon. Salmon farming is generally considered the antithesis of sustainability to the West Coast ethical eater. As of 2006, three Norwegian multinational companies own 92 per cent of the 131 open-net salmon farms that are raising alien Atlantic salmon in our Pacific waters.
The salmon are prone to sea lice infection and escape, both of which threaten our native Pacific species. In the late ‘80s these companies looked to Canada (and Chile) for new under-regulated markets after they started to face stricter environmental controls at home. That, coupled with the collapse of BC’s small-scale, family-owned, ocean-based salmon farming industry—mostly due to unstoppable algal blooms—opened the door for offshore control of the salmon farming industry.
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