Salmon farming more mundane than opponents would have you believe: letter

LETTERS

In Canada, companies must provide employees a safe workplace, free from threats and harassment.

We also have the right to protest on public land or water – just keep it peaceful.

Back in 2018 the international Sea Shepherd Society came to BC and took to the waters around our company’s Swanson Island farm to voice opposition to salmon farming.

I was there, and it was anything but peaceful. Activists filmed and photographed us constantly while we went about our jobs. They called out our names and yelled at us. Imagine being at work and someone you don’t know calls you by name, says “you’d better watch out.” They posted threats online. We received vaguely threatening text messages on personal numbers.

Five long months. 24/7. It was hellish.

As any responsible employer would in that situation, my employer contacted the RCMP and hired local Vancouver Island safety firm CVI Group to provide personnel to protect us at our workplace, to keep it peaceful and de-escalate any situations that came up.

It’s not unlike a large retailer hiring guards to stand by their doors and help ensure sure people stay safe and no-one mistreats its staff or steals the TVs.

Sea Shepherd Society founder Paul Watson responded by posting a false claim on Facebook that the firm we hired was Black Cube, an Israel-based firm staffed in part by former Mossad intelligent agents. We wrote to correct the claim, but he doubled down rather than admitting his “error.”

It was a ridiculous allegation – and false.

Now, three years later, the false claim is back. This time, it’s being presented as fact in a new book by well-known anti-salmon farm activist Alexandra Morton. In media coverage of her book – featured twice in the Vancouver Sun – the Black Cube claim is lined up with equally-alarming ‘facts’ about intimidation by ‘sea Mounties,’ government influence, and computer hacking.

The claims are false, of course, but they make good reading. Israeli spies travelling to Vancouver Island to deal with protestors is exciting fiction and great fodder for breathless book reviews.

Unfortunately, as BC salmon farmers have come to realize, when repeated often enough sensational and false claims can influence public opinion and even government decision-making.

The reality of salmon farming is actually pretty mundane. I have worked in salmon farming on Vancouver Island for years. Like farmers everywhere, we take a quiet pride in growing food for people. BC salmon farms produce more than 6.5 million meals each week. Three out of every four salmon harvested in BC comes from a farm.

At the end of the day we go home to our families. We save up for vacations. We worry about our children’s future.

We follow Canada’s strict business regulations. Canada’s workplace rules don’t end at keeping workers safe on the job, but extend into all areas of work including how companies must protect the environment in which they work, based on many years of research by legions of scientists.

The science tells us we’ve met and exceeded expectations – that salmon farms are not harming wild salmon populations. But that won’t stop us from continuing to research and invest in new technologies.

And yet, we are beset by streams of wildly false claims by those who have made it a career to undo our business. They claim the science says the opposite of what it actually does. They dismiss science that doesn’t fit their narrative. They also say we hire Mossad intelligence agents.

Wild assertions debunked years ago are being brought back around for another try, to sell a book. Look for it in the fiction section.

It may all make for a fun read, but such fiction does us all a disservice. It really is time to get on with the mundane but accurate reality and work together to protect our environment while feeding our hungry world.

Rebekah Norton

Campbell RiverFish Farms