Aquaculture rules fail to protect wild salmon

Neville Crabbe —

In a recent study, Gardner Pinfold Consultants Inc. has found regulation of salmon aquaculture in Canada, Maine, and Norway does not meet international standards for the protection of wild fish.

Laws and regulations in New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Newfoundland and Labrador, British Columbia, Maine, and Norway were surveyed and compared to select criteria from the Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC) Salmon Standard. The results show no jurisdiction fully meets these minimum requirements for the conservation of wild Atlantic salmon and other species.

The ASC Salmon Standard is internationally recognized as a guideline for sustainable and socially responsible aquaculture. It was developed over an eight-year period with participation from industry, governments, and conservation organizations.

“Open net-pen salmon farming can spread disease and parasites to wild salmon, and when escapees breed with wild populations it alters the gene pool,” said ASF President Bill Taylor. “This new analysis shows regulators are not doing enough monitoring and are not sharing information with the public.”

ASF is calling for consistent, high, standards across all salmon farming jurisdictions. Cooperative agreements already exist between the Canadian federal government and provinces, also internationally between Canada, Norway, and the United States.

These agreements should be used to harmonize regulatory protection for wild fish so that all producing regions meet or exceed the ASC standard.

Many salmon aquaculture companies operate in multiple jurisdictions at once. When a company can meet the higher standards of Norway for example, it is reasonable to expect the same in provinces like New Brunswick and Newfoundland and Labrador.

“It is the job of government to ensure that aquaculture’s problems don’t harm wild salmon,” said Taylor. “A shift to closed containment aquaculture is the only way to eliminate impacts on wild fish, but in the meantime, regulators and industry must do much more to protect the environment from the downside of this industry.”

For the full report, background information on how the ASC standard is applied to this study, and for specific information on each of the jurisdictions reviewed please visit:

The Atlantic Salmon Federation is an international conservation group founded in 1948. We are dedicated to ensuring the survival of wild Atlantic salmon throughout the North Atlantic.