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March 10, 2008

OpEd: [Organic] "Cod is Dead"

OpEd article in the Sunday Herald in Scotland March 9, 2008:
Cod_2 Cod is dead...now let's get rid of fish-farm blight
by award-winning food writer Joanna Blythman
"I'D BE lying if I said that I was sorry to see Johnson Seafarms in Shetland going down the tube. More like "I told you so". My first reaction, when I heard of the launch of its "No Catch" farmed cod three years ago, was sadness. Here we go again, another fine wild fish was to be debased, just like that sad travesty, the farmed salmon. This was followed by astonishment that any organic certifying body - in this case, the Organic Food Federation - was daft or greedy enough to lend its credentials to an operation which had all the hallmarks of being another flash-in-the-pan goldrush, like ostrich farming and biofuels, brought to you by speculators and venture capitalists who promise everything then don't deliver, not unlike Daniel Day-Lewis's scary oil man in There Will Be Blood".
. . .
"The fact that No Catch cod has gone belly up should crystallise the debate about farmed versus wild fish. It should have established the principle that farmed fish at £20 a kilo is not the white night riding in on a charger to save depleted fish stocks. Fish farming is riven with structural problems. Fish like salmon and cod are notoriously poor converters of food, and almost wholly dependent on wild fish stocks. Their wastes, which are concentrated under packed cages thick with sluggish, bored specimens, debase water quality and spread disease throughout an alarmingly wide marine ecosystem".

The article ends with:

"AND yet the dominant thinking within the old Scotland Office, and now I fear, in the Scottish government, is that fish farming is an industry that deserves knee-jerk support. What a tragedy for Scotland that we should have been hoodwinked by such a bankrupt proposition and allowed ourselves to sell down the river the heritage we should have protected: inspirational wild fish and a clean marine environment. Our 30-year love affair with fish farming has proven to be the biggest ecological disaster to hit the west coast of Scotland in living memory.
Perhaps the worst thing about all the over-hyped claims made for fish farming is that it allows us to take our eye off the ball of wild fish stocks. It gives us an excuse to write off the seas and oceans as a source of future sustenance for the world's rising population. But if we can't manage our wild stocks for the common good then we might as well give up now and start looking for another planet to colonise. The penny must drop that, far from taking the pressure off wild stocks, aquaculture depletes them.
Greenpeace, which wisely has always seen fish farming as an environmental threat, not an opportunity, argues that depletion of wild fish stocks can be halted, even reversed, by creating marine reserves, a bit like wildlife parks, where no fishing is allowed and stocks can recover. There is persuasive evidence from New Zealand that stocks can bounce back in just a few years.
But marine reserves are a grown-up, low-tech solution that necessarily entails some short-term pain for fishermen and consumers, and offers nobody any immediate prospect of making money. In discussions of what to do about the looming crash in key fish stocks, we have always been in thrall to the guy with the quick fix, high-tech panacea, which just happens, incidentally, to guarantee a windfall for investors and miscellaneous stakeholders. More fool us."
Full article and online discussion via: http://www.sundayherald.com/oped/opinion/display.var.2104813.0.0.php
Salmon_4You can also read an article - "Why organic salmon is causing a nasty smell" - by Joanna Blythman in the October 2006 issue of The Observer Food Monthly: http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2006/oct/22/food.foodanddrink
Thank you to Don Staniford for providing this information.  The cod and salmon pictures are from the NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration)website: http://www.nefsc.noaa.gov/lineart/

March 10, 2008 in Fisheries | Permalink

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Comments

I note a thank you to Don Staniford at the bottom of this article.

Mr. Staniford, who was working for the Friends of Clayoquot Sound at the time, was sued for libel by Creative Fish Farms in Tofino British Columbia because of public statements he made about their fish farm operations. Even though a new trial has now been ordered, the BC Supreme Court in 2006 found that the libel had been proven. The court awarded Creative Fish Farms $15,000 in damages, including $5,000 because the court concluded that Staniford had been malicious in trying to damage the Fish Farm by his public statements. See:

http://www.courts.gov.bc.ca/jdb-txt/sc/07/00/2007bcsc0062.htm

Mr. Staniford left Canada before the trial. He is not a credible source of information.

Posted by: Rob Kyle | Oct 24, 2009 5:11:34 PM

Eco Nazi censorship is alive and well on this blog

Posted by: Rob Kyle | Oct 25, 2009 3:47:39 PM

When people forward interesting tidbits for my blog, I try to thank them publicly.

Don Staniford has sent me a number of interesting news items, for which I continue to be most grateful. Mr. Staniford's legal woes have nothing whatsoever to do with Joanna Blythman's interesting editorial above

Posted by: Donna M. Byrne | Oct 27, 2009 1:00:49 PM

Re: "Eco-Nazi censorship . . ."

Not really. I was just asleep at the wheel.

Posted by: Donna M. Byrne | Oct 27, 2009 1:02:09 PM

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