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The Hidden Costs of Farmed Salmon


Reforms Needed to Improve Labor Conditions, Protect Marine Mammals, Wild Fish

Contact: Dave Bard of National Environmental Trust, 202-486-4426

Farmed Salmon Exposed, a project organized by partner groups worldwide, today launched its week of global action. Beginning Oct. 9, campaign partners in Canada, the United Kingdom, Chile and the U.S. will host a series of events showing consumers how current aquaculture practices damage the environment and threaten the safety and lives of workers.

The week of action features video testimonials that give voice to people worldwide who bear witness to the problems associated with open-net cage salmon farming. The individuals range from a Chilean union leader talking about his colleagues and union members dying due to unsafe working conditions to Alaskan commercial fishermen who are outraged that salmon farmers who kill marine mammals can still sell their product in the U.S. The U.S. Marine Mammal Protection Act prohibits U.S fishermen from harassing, let alone killing marine mammals.

"We're not opposed to farmed salmon, but the industry needs to adopt major reforms now," said Andrea Kavanagh, director, Pure Salmon Campaign, one of the groups participating in Farmed Salmon Exposed. "When current practices threaten the lives and livelihoods of people as well as kill marine mammals, it's time for substantial changes."

For years, farmed salmon has been associated with chemicals, parasites and escapes. But new studies and first-hand accounts reveal even bigger problems. Salmon farming threatens villages and towns that rely on subsistence fishing for their jobs and diet. Since February 2005, the Chilean government has reported that 17 laborers have died on the job while working at Chilean salmon farms.

Almost all farmed salmon is raised in open ocean pens. Consequently, seals and sea lions swim around these large nets looking for an easy meal. Salmon farmers routinely shoot and kill these marine mammals, animals that are strictly protected in the U.S.

Events during the week of global action expose problems with farmed salmon that have received little public attention and urge consumers to demand higher standards for farm-raised fish.

The following is a partial list of planned activities:

-- Canada: Partners will stage protests outside supermarkets that sell farmed salmon and will pass out fliers at an outdoors retailer

-- United Kingdom: More than 200 supporters in 50 cities will hand out leaflets in front of supermarkets from London to the far north of Scotland with the message: "Go Wild for Real Salmon. Say 'NO' to Farmed Fish"

-- Chile: Farmed Salmon Exposed partners will host a press conference coinciding with a newspaper ad campaign and host a round-table discussion with parliamentarians, non-governmental organizations and the producer of the award-winning documentary "Ovas de Oro," a film about the salmon farming industry; partners will also attend a meeting with the president of the Parliamentary Commission of Fisheries and Aquaculture

-- U.S.: Groups will distribute literature at more than a dozen supermarkets nationwide that sell farmed salmon and the Pure Salmon Campaign will host a press breakfast briefing in Washington, D.C.

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