Spinning the Spin that spins the spin..?

As suggested in several other posts: everything is marketing and marketing is everything.

When it comes to salmon, there are few exceptions. From the organizations that intend to “save the salmon” to the organizations that intend to catch as many as possible; from the small local organization working in local creeks to mega multinationals intending to farm salmon and sell them to well-off, endless-demanding consumers.

Over the past few weeks there have been several posts here commenting on the apparent ‘facts’ of the “bcsalmonfacts.ca” website and PR campaign launched by the BC Salmon Farmers Association and the multinational companies engaged in salmon farming on BC’s coast.

A few more details of that campaign surfaced this past week. Marketing magazine ran an article on the advertising/PR firm DDB Canada: BC Salmon Farmers swimming through ‘misunderstanding’ .

Salmon farming is one of the more contentious issues in British Columbia, and one of the least understood–that’s the message from a $1.5 million campaign just launched by BC Salmon Farmers.

That’s no chum-p change… $1.5 million simply to “get the story straight”?

One thought that crosses my mind… maybe the Salmon Farmers Assoc. should have looked at why opponents to salmon farming have been so successful in communicating their message over the years.

It sure wasn’t through hiring the Canadian subsidiary (DDB Canada: “the most celebrated creative agency in Canada for the past decade”) of a major international Advertising firm (DDB: “Highly ranked, worldwide advertising agency”) and spending a cool $1.5 million.

And the crazy thing about all this, is that it is simply Public Relations (PR) — nothing more, nothing less:

It’s really not about selling more salmon in BC, it’s more about making people aware of the value of the industry,” said Cosmo Campbell, creative director at DDB Vancouver. “It’s an area that is so volatile and I think a lot has to do with the history of the province and our love affair with salmon.”

_ _ _ _ _ _

“…Making people aware of the value…”

Interesting phrase and choice of words.

This is a component of a point I have suggested several times… “making people aware” implies people don’t have free will, intelligence, and abilities to make up their own mind… they need to be “made” aware by outside forces.

In this case, $1.5 million worth of ‘creative’ material from one of Canada’s leading advertisement firms.

And, really… if this is — exactly as suggested — about the history of BC and our “love affair with salmon”… are average BC’ers going to suddenly change their mind about the potential dangers of farming salmon (mostly Atlantic) in open-net pens along sensitive areas of the BC coast — simply because some slick, well-funded, PR campaign suggests they need to ‘buy the farm’ that BC Salmon Farmers are ‘selling’?

For example, there is ‘negligible impact of salmon farming on wild salmon’… that salmon farming, in fact, “protects wild fish stocks”… and that we — BC’ers — should simply accept the apparent economic benefits of salmon farming in sensitive areas of coastal BC.

Some day, maybe these sorts of claims can be made with some level of un-bias confidence — however, the current reality – or “fact” of the matter — is that the jury is still deliberating on these claims – on both sides.

_ _ _ _ _ _

Curiously, if one looks at the snazzy DDB Canada website… there are some claims about what this firm represents.

(I suggest this gently and respectively, as there does appear to be some good work on social causes within the firm.)

On their website under “DDB Cares“:

We’ve been called a lot of things. Do-gooders is our favorite.

Whether it’s convincing thousands of Canadians to donate blood, helping the Looking Glass foundation scale new heights in awareness and fundraising for eating disorders, or simply using advertising to stop crime for our client Crime Stoppers, DDB has a long and rich history of supporting social causes. In fact, the values of giving back and being environmentally responsible are a part of our very fabric and culture.

We were the first Agency to “Go Green” conducting waste and carbon audits and setting targets to know where and how we could become better environmental citizens.

Curiously enough though, one of the well-known ad campaigns of this firm is the Subaru car commercials with the sumo wrestlers prancing around with hoses and such.

Someone does have to ask: how “go green” can you be when you do car advertisements?

Current estimates suggest that automobiles emit somewhere around 2.8 billion tonnes of tailpipe emissions worldwide (Macrowikinomics). So, if you are a firm that is simply promoting that more people should buy more cars… are you “green” — or, are you green-washing?

The point here… marketing is everything and everything is marketing.

And thus, if this slick PR campaign has nothing to do with selling more farmed fish… and that it is more about “making” people aware specifically:

[the] target group [of this campaign is] mostly males 40+ likely grew up fishing with their fathers and have watched the decline in fish stock over the years. “They want to point the finger at something and the bad guy is being painted as the salmon farms because they are the only thing that has visibly changed,” he said. “It’s an easy target to bully. The younger generation is a bit more open- minded and understands the value.”

Can’t say I think that sort of focus will change much… not sure how many of those male 40+ers are voting these days… but so be it, I’m not an award winning creative ad agency…

However, here’s something to ponder from the DDB International website:

Respect for the Customer

DDB has long led the way by recognizing that brands are in the hands of consumers, not brand managers. Nothing is more important and relevant today.

Hmmm… might that then suggest that PR is somewhat irrelevant then?

And do we demonstrate respect when we suggest it’s all about “making” people understand or:

Mary Ellen Walling, executive director at BC Salmon Farmers, said British Columbians don’t know a lot about the industry and what they do know is usually wrong.

Silly B.C.’ers… don’t know nuthin, ’bout nuthin.

Good thing there are PR firms out there that will fix the facts…

18 thoughts on “Spinning the Spin that spins the spin..?

  1. James

    If you look at the amounts of cash that have been spent by anti-farming groups directly aimed at demarketing farmed salmon, $1.5 million IS chump-change.
    About one-third of that was spent on releasing to the media (marketing), a past “study” on PCB’s in farmed salmon.
    Never mind the fact they had to use different scales of measurement and ignored higher levels in other common foods in order to make it seem like farmed salmon was dangerous to your health.
    If you look at the amounts groups like the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation have donated to (laundered through) groups such as Tides Canada in areas related to aquaculture it is a pittance.
    Over $18,000,000 has gone into the development of the PNCIMA initiative from American foundations,and not one bit of it is in America.
    Why have they decided that it is so important to “save” our coastline from industry?
    You should expand the scope of your skepticism and it may make a little more sense.
    I’m not as worried about B.C.’s fish as I am about B.C.’s future.

  2. Nick

    Ok we get it, your not going to even consider salmon farming as legitimate. You want to bash it constantly which is ok I quess. You lament the 1.5 million being spent by companies to rightfully defend the industry from the disinformation that is being put forth by NGO enviromental activists. You even go so far as to disparage the use of DDB in helping get the message out. Yet you never question or mention the 10’s of millions paid by US based charities to the various enviromental activists groups here in BC to discredit salmon farming. Picking the low hanging fruit is easy for a reason.

  3. salmon guy Post author

    thanks for the comment, and glad you left it. Takes thoughts from all sides to move through hot issues like this one.
    I also figured someone would comment on this with a counter-point of money spent on the other side.

    I had to look up the PNCIMA to remind myself of the acronym. This is the ‘Pacific North Coast Integrated Management Area’.
    I suppose that so much money has gone into the initiative because its such a special part of the world. Having grown up on the BC Coast, I would have to agree with that assessment.

    “This is an area of high ecological, social and economic importance that has been identified by Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) as a priority region for marine planning as part of Canada’s Oceans Action Plan.”

    And trust me, look through older posts on this site, and you may find my expanded skepticism. I too am not generally a big fan of big US-based philanthropic money flowing into Canada into initiatives that could use a little more ‘local’ action. I’m not so sure about ‘laundered’ but fair enough. Or, as in today’s new post… simply drafting new language as opposed to actually doing something: e.g. “Canada’s Ocean Action Plan”… i’ll honk the bumpf alarm on that one.

    I also don’t disagree with you on some shady PR strategies used by salmon farming opponents from time to time. Or highlighting one thing, without highlighting another.

    However, I don’t think that two wrongs make a right — and hence my asking of question on some of the tactics now being used in return and justified (by some) in schoolyard fighting sort of way — e.g. “well they started it… we’re just doing what they did”.

    I’m not too concerned about BC’s future, as you put it: there’s a lot of resilience here — however, I do have some concerns for its salmon (which also have some resilience). I’m not that old and the declines I’ve seen in salmon runs in my lifetime alone are very worrisome. Start adding up all the small streams on the BC coast and the numbers add up quickly… as do the losses.

    The thing with salmon is that those losses reverberate a long way. Small salmon runs also means a lot of other critters are being impacted — not just people.

    thanks again. hope you continue to visit the site.

  4. salmon guy Post author

    thanks Nick,
    i’m not so sure that i’ve suggested that salmon farming should not be considered as legitimate — the questions are more directed at strategies and tactics of the campaign. As mentioned in the post it’s more about the marketing. And if one chooses to use a certain line of ‘facts’ then be prepared to be questioned on those ‘facts… which the bcsalmonfacts site has done a decent job of accepting the questions… its the responses that will hold water in the long run.

    it’s been curious to see how many folks that are pro-salmon farm have jumped on this assumption. Read older posts and you’ll see there’s a bit of a wider scope here. For example, search the Canadian Boreal forest initiative. There are certainly questions of US-based philanthropic organizations pumping money into Canada. Often, the root of those philanthropic organizations are not so enviro-based histories that made them the money in the first place (e.g. big oil).

    The history of salmon farming and its impacts in other parts of the world, is not a good one. For example the recent ISA outbreak in Chile is damn scary when put into the context of having wild runs swimming through the same waters. Thankfully Chile doesn’t have wild salmon runs, however i’m sure some other fish populations were impacted. No?

    Yes, industries can change — however, I certainly don’t fault folks for having concerns. In my travels, I have found that many coastal folks simply have concerns based on their own knowledge not the apparent ‘misinformation’ or ‘discrediting’ funded by whomever. Things like the ISA outbreak are more than enough to justify concerns — in my humble opinion.

    If the PR campaign is going to put out the low fruit… it does make it easy to pick. As mentioned in another comment, two wrongs don’t make a right. Fighting PR with PR is a losing battle for everyone involved.

    However, at the same time I appreciate the comment and am glad folks that have opposite opinions of mine are leaving comments on here — similar to the bcsalmonfacts website. Good on them for accepting all comments.


  5. James

    I have watched many online “discussions” degrade into ad hominem attacks and emotional tirades and I thank you for your dedication to keeping this one civil and relevant. I agree that B.C. is a very special place, it is why I have chosen to stay here and make a go at a career on the coast.
    I tried the sportfishing lodges for a number of years, but found the seasonal discontinuity to be hard on me. When I discovered courses for Aquaculture I was skeptical at first, as I had seen farms in the past and was familiar with the rhetoric surrounding them.
    Once I actually got out into the field and experienced the industry first-hand I was sold. Here was a way I could spend the whole year on the water and not have to worry about the “season” ending. Everything I have seen since while working in the Aquaculture industry has served to further convince me that this is an environmentally sound, socially acceptable form of food production which will play a leading role in the future of the coast.
    There will always be impacts from industry, but the important thing is to have perspective when trying to decide whether something is viable or not. There have been a great number of claims raised against the salmon farming industry which are being countered with this website.
    As for the amounts involved, and the impression that Aquaculture companies have “deep pockets” and can readily afford to throw money into campaigns willy-nilly, I think it is totally false.
    “Grassroots” campaigns funded by American foundations have access to tens of millions dedicated to changing policy in Canada.
    These are defacto political ventures with business at their roots, and use environmental sensationalism to create furor over issues where they see fit. I find the fact that B.C. salmon enhancement efforts are under-funded while these ENGO groups spend countless dollars in campaigning against Aquaculture sickening. A fraction of what is spent on consulting could mean the reconstruction of hundreds of impacted watersheds and enhancement of critical runs.
    I am proud to be involved in Aquaculture and strive to “walk the talk” when it comes to wild salmon. As you mentioned before there is a distinct lack of “local” action on these issues and I completely agree. I am happy to say that all of the companies involved in the creation of the website are also involved in funding enhancement efforts in their communities.
    In my opinion we need action on the ground to save the habitat remaining for these fish, and to assist runs which have been pushed to the brink more than we need endless conflict over aquaculture.
    The precautionary principle means looking both ways before crossing the street, not spending millions looking at it while standing on the curb.

  6. salmon guy Post author

    thanks again James,
    personally, I always have time for folks such as yourself that are on the ground (or water in this case), doing the work, earning paycheques, and so on. These are often opinions and thoughts that can be lost in the melee. (including by myself).

    Similar things happen, or have happened, in the logging industry on the coast, and in the commercial fishing sector — and even the sport fishing sector, which you’re exactly right, the seasonal nature makes it tough for some folks to earn steady pay cheques.

    I’m not sure I totally agree on your perspective that the companies involved don’t have deep pockets. I do understand that not all salmon farms on the BC coast are run by big corporations; however, Marine Harvest, Grieg and others are no small potatoes. These are massive, multi-tiered, multi-national companies.

    And yet, as you mention these companies also make local efforts and do some good stuff — that is important to remember. Some of these companies also make some good community-building efforts, and may very well be dedicated to trying to provide employment in hard hit coastal communities.

    Yet, I certainly believe that other local folks have every right — and even responsibility — to ask hard questions. One could draw an analogy with a nuclear power plant opening in your neighborhood. It could potentially provide lots of good jobs for many years, it’s a “green” energy source (in a sense, as some claim), and the company might invest lots of money in community efforts and so on. However, should local residents just openly allow this industry to move in — even though many argue it’s incredibly safe.

    The balance of probabilities may very well demonstrate that it’s quite a safe form of energy production… it’s the one simple fact of “what if” (e.g. Chernobyl). Or even, a build-up of small issues over a long time frame… or the legacy that may be left behind.

    Not for a second, am i comparing salmon farming with nuclear energy — more, simply for comparison sake on a hot-button issue. When ‘living in a democracy’ is paraded around, it means that local folks do get to have a say in what they want in their neighborhoods — right or wrong in their opinions. Take garbage dumps in the BC interior for example. The Greater Vancouver area has a garbage disposal issue and it wants to dump that garbage in places like Cache Creek or near Kamloops, etc.

    Safe or not, folks in those areas should be able to have a say in how local areas are utilized. (and this doesn’t even start getting into the issue of the ridiculously slow Treaty process in BC)

    And yet, you know, James I agree with your point on the ‘more action on the ground’ as opposed to endless bickering and hypothesizing. Over the last two to three decades there has been what some might suggest is akin to salmon genocide in small BC coastal streams. From Haida Gwaii to east coast Vancouver Island, small streams have been losing their salmon runs as fast as the car population has exploded in places like California (more cars than people suggest most estimates).

    Most management agencies have spent far too long concentrating on big salmon runs, big rivers.. the Fraser, the Skeena, the Nass, etc. and not enough time (or resources or action) on the small streams that sit at the root of things like biodiversity. More often than not, it’s a lot more to do with playing around with language (with some exceptions, such as the Habitat Conservation and Stewardship Program HCSP of the late 1990s).

    thanks again, and hope to see more comments. it’s an important discussion in BC.

  7. James

    There are two things that seem to be at the root of the farmed salmon debate. Perception ( be it negative or positive ) and perspective ( or lack thereof ). What may be called “spin” can also be labelled an effort to introduce realistic scenarios and factual comparisons to an often emotionally charged debate.
    As far as perception goes, much of the information available to date has been produced/provided by groups who have sought to demarket, discredit and derail the Aquaculture industry. More than 30 years have passed since the introduction of salmon farming to the coast of B.C. and we still have salmon populations which fluctuate wildly. This is also the case where no farms are present. Some return in higher numbers than we have seen since before a farm was ever anchored anywhere on the coast, yet the perception out there is that they are all doomed and it is all because of farmed salmon. Never mind the 90% loss of freshwater rearing habitat in the Fraser watershed, increased coastal development, the historical impacts of logging and the continued fisheries ( commercial, recreational and Aboriginal ) Add in Pacific Decadal Oscillations and other natural phenomena like upwelling and plankton productivity, or toxicity, and you have a huge amount of things that can influence the lives of every type of salmon out there. People are still willing to see it as a simple problem where fish farms are bad and if they go away everything will be OK.
    That seems to be how some people perceive it, which leads me into perspective, and how all these things actually add up to the impacts on wild stocks and the impact that salmon farming has, or may have on the ecosystem.
    Firstly, farmed fish get lice and disease from wild fish. Whether they serve to amplify those issues to a point where wild fish are succeptible to harm, and what the level of impact is, is still up for debate. It stands to reason that in some cases they would, but the level of impact cannot clearly be shown at this time. The fact that wild populations coexist with farmed salmon and still return in numbers should show that it may not be as dire as some would have you believe. The simple truth is that unless we stopped every other activity that affected salmon in any way, we would never be able to tell. It is pretty easy to see that fishing has an immense impact on salmon populations, but it is never accused of being the problem by groups in opposition of salmon farming. In fact many are allied with commercial interests.
    You can show a large number of other factors which impact wild salmon and can be measured easily. You can also measure some impacts from farms, which the industry does as a condition of licensing in Canada.
    All of the net-pens on the coast would fit inside Stanley Park, with room to spare. They are typically anchored in water over 100 feet deep and the benthic environment around the farms ( MUD ) is monitored throughout the production cycle and before fish are re-entered after a fallow period. Some farms can be re-stocked immediately because there is no statistical difference between the area impacted by the farm and the area around it.
    The farms themselves actually serve to create habitat for a great number of organisms which adhere themselves to the physical structure, or use it for shelter and foraging. I have had divers tell me that these artificial reefs are not dead zones at all, but oasis`in a barren landscape.
    I guess it is all how you want to look at it, and what you choose to believe.

  8. GJW

    Interesting discussion, as always, on your blog, thanks.

    I am about the same age as you David (I think?) and have also seen salmon runs decline in my lifetime.

    Then again, the world’s population has doubled from 3 billion to 6 billion in my lifetime.

    People gotta eat. And it’s only recently that we’ve started realizing that hey, maybe if we eat all the salmon, they won’t come back. And that maybe if every household on the planet has a car, the carbon dioxide emissions could actually acidify the ocean to the point of harming the entire food chain.

    I wonder why the groups which receive 10 times the amount of money salmon farmers are spending on this campaign never talk about those things. They have one target, and one target only. Why such dogged radical rabid zealotry? Gotta wonder.

  9. GJW

    BTW my point with the population comment was that while there are twice as many hungry people in the world, the salmon populations have not increased exponentially to match our consumption.

  10. salmon guy Post author

    thank GJW,
    yes, it’s impressive to look at the human population gain in the last few decades. Mind boggling really. If in our two to three (edging on four) decades on the planet, the population has doubled — what does it mean when our age has doubled? When’s the “tipping point”?

    As I’ve commented before, when it comes to food — shortages are not our problem; distribution is. There is more than enough food produced on the planet these days — it’s ensuring that people that need it, get it. And that important food items don’t get directed to industrial applications first, before ensuring folks aren’t starving (e.g. corn, and other biofuels efforts).

    You might be right on the twice as many people hungry… I’m not sure. But again, it’s not about production; it’s distribution.
    And really, I sure as hell don’t see salmon farms contributing to solving the issue of starving people — and I do take issue when the two issues are put side by side; e.g. salmon farming and world starvation. Salmon (farmed or wild) is not a cheap meat alternative for poverty-stricken families; and thus farming salmon will never (or at least not for a long time) represent a cheap means for solving hunger issues.

    (not that you necessarily suggest this — however it does come up in the “facts” of some…)

    Overfishing has certainly played a big part in salmon declines, and other fishery problems around the world. However, some research suggests that the indigenous human population — prior to contact — may have harvested as much, if not more, wild salmon then has been harvested in commercial fisheries over the last tens of decades. The Fraser River valley area is reputed to be potentially one of the most densely populated areas of North America pre-contact — largely because of the salmon populations. They represented a stable, abundant return of food and trade items every year.

    So it’s not really a catch issue that is fully representative of the problem — and I agree with other folks that comment on this site, I’m not one that solely points the finger at salmon farms. How could I?

    I grew up on Haida Gwaii (sometimes referred to as the Queen Charlotte Is.) on the north coast. There are no salmon farms on the north coast — so it seems a little silly that I would point the finger “solely” at the salmon farms for salmon declines. I never have, and it’s interesting that some folks might think that I’m “just another one of those in opposition” and pointing my finger solely at the salmon farms.

    And really if I was… salmon farms would most certainly have come up a lot more in my posts over the last 13 months of keeping this blog going… it’s not a common topic here. (yet, it has sure kicked up visits and engagement on this site… more a sign of the divisiveness of the issue, than anything else).

    thanks again for the continued comments.

  11. salmon guy Post author

    some good points James — thanks for that.

    I think your analysis could potentially inform almost any disagreement or conflict: perception and perspective (granted both come from the same Latin roots percipere: to perceive.

    I’m not sure I totally agree with your suggestion that one person’s Spin is another person’s fact… and yet on the other hand, I can to a certain degree.

    As I suggested in some other posts there are some decent definitions of PR Spin, Wikipedia for example:

    “In public relations, spin is a form of propaganda, achieved through providing an interpretation of an event or campaign to persuade public opinion in favor or against a certain organization or public figure. While traditional public relations may also rely on creative presentation of the facts, ‘spin’ often, though not always, implies disingenuous, deceptive and/or highly manipulative tactics.”

    Public relations — by its root, is largely guided by Spin. If you hire an advertising firm that has a specific PR department, you will most likely engage in Spin — e.g. ‘manipulative or deceptive tactics’. If one has the “facts” then why hire a PR firm… why not just simply state the “facts” and back them up with more “facts”?

    Then the “story” looks after itself.

    There’s also a link from that Wikipedia entry with the quote:

    “In an Esquire article on ”The Age of Spin,” Randall Rothenberg noted how the slang meaning of spin changed from the pejorative ”deceive” in the 1950’s to a mockingly admiring ”polish the truth” today.

    The author had called me, as a former legerdemainliner, for my definition. Instead of looking it up in my own political dictionary, which has it right, I spun off as follows: ”Spin is what a pitcher does when he throws a curveball. The English on the ball causes it to appear to be going in a slightly different direction than it actually is.”

    There isn’t much question that this effort by the salmon farmers Assoc, is meant to “persuade public opinion in favor” of salmon farming. I’m not suggesting that everything about it is Spin per se… however, i’ve certainly started asking some questions about specifics. As stats and actual facts are provided to back-up certain statements (or not provided) then certain conclusions might be met which meet the test of “fact” or “spin”/fiction

    I can certainly appreciate your point on where information has come from over the last while… however, at the same time Ms. Walling, for example, is quite a mouthpiece and by no means innocent of not throwing out various Spin “facts” as well. But fair enough, others have pointed that term my way as well in past incarnations…
    The BC Salmon Farmers Association has played a significant role in throwing out spin — whether op-eds in newspapers or their website, or otherwise — or ‘half-facts’ as I tend to call them.

    No one’s hands are entirely clean in this significant hot-button spin issue and there’s been no shortage of MUD thrown… whether bundled and balled from beneath an open-pen salmon cage, or simply gathered from the nearest cow pie…

    I also don’t really agree with the point that folks opposing salmon farms don’t also have active campaigns on other issues related to wild salmon — for example, Suzuki Foundation, or Watershed Watch, or others… Many have wide-ranging campaigns; but… free from spin or otherwise? Not always.

    And your comment on habitat for other organisms… yes, i’m sure it does; however, is this significant enough to simply approve salmon farming on that ‘fact’… not really, it’s sort of a nice aside. If it was that important to create that habitat then why not just go throw similar structures in the water with nothing being farmed… like sinking a boat for example.

    And the: disease and lice being transferred from wild to farmed… now, I think that might be a stretch. And regardless, if that was the case wouldn’t this be all the more reason for open-pen to go to closed containment?

    The history of salmon farming in areas with wild runs is not a good one – Norway, Scotland, etc. Did salmon farming itself cause the demise of wild runs… No… however did it play a part? Yes.

    the history of disease outbreaks in Norwegian streams… not so good.
    And your point about small footprint can be spun either way… the mining industry uses this spin-tactic all the time. Yet, when shit happens with “small footprint” industries like mining, we get toxic sludge spills like Hungary had to deal with this past summer. With salmon farming, we get mass escapes of Atlantic salmon… the effect of which we won’t know fully for quite some time.

    So, yes, you’re exactly right on perception and perspective… it’s just too bad that when issues become so hot button that we have to enter the legal realm, such as the Cohen Commision (quasi-legal) to get a legal opinion on what is fact and what is hearsay. But even then, it’s still about who can advocate their position most effectively…

    Appreciate the continued comments… I certainly don’t buy an argument that suggests we all have to agree on these issues — healthy discussion is important.

  12. James

    OK, so I guess we can agree that how you come to look at something has an impact on what you think you are seeing. I can see fish farms as artificial reefs ( just like sunken warships ), creating habitat for many filter feeders and small fish. In turn these filter feeders do just that, they filter the water, using the waste from the farmed fish to grow. The small fish forage for bits and pieces of poo and zooplankton, which are then fed upon by larger fish. The structure keeps them safe from larger predators and the waste feeds them.
    Your comparison to footprints from mining isn’t really appropriate because we’re not talking about tailings, we are talking about fish feces and small amounts of waste feed. These are nutrients and are used by a host of organisms for food, starting at the bottom of the trophic chain. Any residual antibiotics or treatments found in the waste are in such small amounts that we can only measure them using incredibly small units, and fall far below any active levels. Trace amounts of almost anything can be found in almost everything if you look hard enough. Just think about what is in the air you breathe.
    Comparing Atlantic’s in Norway to wild Pacific salmon is like apples to oranges. Different life cycle, different lice, different environment all together. Goats and sheep are also similar, yet entirely different.
    The fact does remain that farmed fish enter the ocean free of lice and disease. Just like people they can get colds, flus, or diseases and there is a large number present in the marine environment.
    Lastly, for over half a decade Atlantic salmon have either been purposely introduced ( stocking attempts of hundreds of thousands ) or accidentally realeased into B.C.’s waters. They have all failed to establish a population, in fact there is no record that I know of ( other than anecdotal ) of Atlantic salmon being established outside their home range any where in the world.
    Pacific’s are another story, as Chile and the Great Lakes show.
    If using facts to bolster one’s side of an argument is “spin”, then spin on.

  13. salmon guy Post author

    Your right James, perception and perspective – and of course that can be challenging when communicating by type. For example, the mention of mining “footprints” is simply to draw a comparison in that logic of using the term… not to compare the industries for a second. Similar to earlier posts that compared PR tactics, not the actual industries.

    The issue with any farming (crops, trees, or animals) is large amounts of critters confined in small areas — disease outbreak is very common in these situations. Look at avian flu, mad cow, pine beetle outbreak in BC, and so on and so on. (or even apple and orange trees for that fact… when disease hits orange trees in Florida we see it in prices).
    The ISA outbreak in Chile salmon farms is a decent example.

    The problem with introduced species in the ecosystem (such as Atlantic Salmon in the Pacific) is that diseases or issues that we are not even aware of, can be transferred.

    I’m not so sure what i’ve engage in is ‘spin’ i’m not trying to mislead… simply asking questions and spurring discussion and looking at things critically. I also have nothing to gain from here… simply speaking up as an engaged citizen. If I was trying to mislead or convince folks so that I could ensure profit; then the pink ‘spin’ smock might fit.

    glad you keep asking the questions too.

  14. James

    I just realized I made an error when referring to the timeframe of Atlantic salmon stocking in B.C. waters. It was actually more like a century, not decade.
    Here’s a link to a paper that shows some of the research that has been done on Atlantic salmon interactions with Pacific species and the history behind it.
    I encourage anyone to read this as it states, good or bad, the findings of many scientists in the field.

  15. Brian

    Thanks for getting involved, James. It is nice to have someone with aquaculture experience wade in on this issue and help educate us.

    Dave, if you are using Chile and the ISA problem there you need to also consider the different regulatory environments. If you look into it it is like comparing apples to oranges. The Chilean industry is huge (they have a large piece of the pie in regards to farmed salmon into the US market) and grew very fast. From what I have gathered this was part of their problem. In contrast, the industry in BC has much more strict regulations (as James can probably expand on) and has not grown as quickly.

    There is no doubt that ISA is not a nice thing to have, but creating fear about ISA (not directed at you) is not productive either. The message being sent by people like Morton on ISA and this latest study by Miller et al 2010 is totally misleading. Columnists like Mr. Reid do not help matters much either. Let’s stay with what we know about instead of speculating. Now some people are starting to believe that ISA is the culprit when we are not even certain what the pathogen is, where it is coming from and if pathogens (like viruses) are responsible for what happened in 2009 in the first place…..or if it is a combination of a more than one factor.

    Quote from Salmonguy: “One thought that crosses my mind… maybe the Salmon Farmers Assoc. should have looked at why opponents to salmon farming have been so successful in communicating their message over the years.”

    Perception is everything and everything is perception. As I said before….it’s not about what you can prove nowadays – it is who you can convince. Opponents have been very successful at convincing the public of the “problem” and less successful at proving there is a problem. However, in the big scheme of things this does not matter and they know it. If you can get people fearful of what they either do not know: spin reports around to make them conclude things that go beyond what they can and use the word “multinational” (you know…that bad word to describe those nasty fish farms) then that is all you really need to do. For instance, the fear over PCB is totally blown out of proportion by fish farm critics. As adamsriver pointed out, with the extremely small concentrations of PCB in farmed and wild salmon a person is a much greater risk of heart attack or stoke then dying from cancer caused by PCBs in farmed salmon or even wild salmon. Yet, critics will avoid this little tid bit. However, of course, these opponents are totally backed by mom and pop operations that get their money from bottle drives and bake sales.

  16. salmon guy Post author

    thanks Brian, all fair points.

    Isn’t the bulk of the discussion around climate change, ocean acidification, etc. largely based on speculation?
    Or, investing for that fact…?

    Speculation about potential impacts is quite essential in engaging in risk analysis or otherwise. Speculation is what goes into building a business plan. If we only ever stuck with what we know, how would knowledge expand..? or sports records? Who knew Usain Bolt could go faster then anyone imagined in the 100 m dash? Or that the 4-minute mile could be broken.

    Yes, you’re right perception is everything — that’s why marketing is everything. And it’s always been about who you could convince, that’s not a new thing. How did some countries get pulled into huge wars like WW I and WW II? How did the American public (and others) get duped into chasing phantom weapons of mass destruction in Iraq?

    Fair enough on the PCB comments… however, I’m not so sure that’s the main message out there, nor has it been.
    Similar to my post today, it doesn’t really matter (in my humble opinion) where the money comes from to fund various campaigns, and I’m not sure how it’s relevant? The companies operating in BC are largely Norwegian, the Chinese largely bailed out the U.S. and bough up a bunch of their debt in the latest meltdown, we get lots of oil from Saudi Arabia, and so on and so on.

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