Mon, 20 July 2009
Norway, British Columbia V ("Organic" Salmon?)
By all accounts these farms are industrial factory farms with many of the sites in Canada being home to half a million fish in a surface area no larger than a football field. The farms interact directly with the marine environment raising concerns over their concentrated accumulations of waste, disease and parasite transfer between the cultured and wild fish, animal welfare concerns, and the list goes on.
So when salmon eaters around the world are slowly being introduced to salmon labelled as "organic", we certainly need to inquire into what exactly that means? Salmon after all are most commonly recognized as a wild food... and is wild food not as organic as any?
Co-operatives: Alternatives to Industrial Food VI
Shauna MacKinnon - markets campaigner, Living Oceans Society (Vancouver, BC) - Before earning her Masters in Geography at the University of Guelph, Shauna worked on salmon farming issues for a New York City foundation, which later led to work developing funding strategies for small B.C. NGOs. Her research and work interests have focused on the economic development opportunities that are being created through more local and organic food systems. In her current position Shauna works with retailers and the public to bring attention to how our food choices really can make a difference.
Sat, 11 July 2009
In October 2008, host Jon Steinman spoke with wildlife biologist Alexandra Morton who was in the midst of taking the Province of British Columbia and Marine Harvest Canada to B.C. Supreme Court. Morton was challenging the ongoing regulation of the industry by the Province, arguing that the Province is not constitutionally permitted to do so. Instead, it was argued that the Federal government is responsible for regulating salmon farms.
Justice Christopher Hinkson came to his decision on February 9, 2009. Morton was victorious. Deconstructing Dinner invites Morton back onto the show to share the outcomes of that decision and what has transpired since then. Also lending their thoughts to the B.C. Supreme Court decision is Otto Langer - a former federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) biologist who applauds the decision but remains highly skeptical of the DFO's capability to now manage the farmed salmon fishery.
The episode also examines a perplexing letter sent to Deconstructing Dinner not long after our January 2009 episodes. As part of those January episodes, Deconstructing Dinner shared recordings from our October 2008 tour of a salmon farm site and hatchery owned by Marine Harvest - the largest salmon farming company in the world. It appears the company was not happy with those broadcasts and subsequently sent a letter to us outlining a number of rather odd requests.
Otto Langer - former Biologist, Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) (Richmond, BC) - Otto is a 32-year veteran of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada who quit his job in 2001 after becoming unhappy with the direction the department was heading. He then became the Director of the Marine Conservation Program for the David Suzuki Foundation and one of DFO's most outspoken critics. Otto is now retired. He is considered one of Canada's leading authorities on the issue of open net cage salmon farming. Otto also authored a chapter in the book, "Stain Upon the Sea: The Battle for the West Coast Salmon Fishery" (2001).
Alexandra Morton - Scientist/Researcher, Raincoast Research Society (Echo Bay, BC) - While studying orca whales up until the 1990s, Alexandra watched as the salmon farming industry appeared in the Broughton Archipelago where she calls home. As she observed the arrival of industrial salmon farms, the whales she studied disappeared. She believed the cause was salmon farms, and when 10,000 pages of letters to all levels of government failed to elicit meaningful response, Alexandra realized that she would have to scientifically prove that salmon farming had driven out the whales and caused epidemic outbreaks of bacteria, viral and parasitic infections in wild salmon. By partnering with international scientists and in some cases commercial fishermen, Alexandra has documented the loss of the whales, thousands of escaped farm salmon, lethal outbreaks of sea lice, and antibiotic resistance near salmon farms.
Bill Harrower - Manager of Regional Operations for Aquaculture Development, Province of British Columbia, Ministry of Agriculture and Lands - (Courtenay, BC) Aquaculture is a significant contributor to the provincial economy, and most aquaculture jobs are located in coastal communities. Farmed salmon is B.C.'s largest agricultural export product. Bill Harrower has worked with the Department since the 1980s.
Barb Addison - Manager, Big Tree Creek Hatchery, Marine Harvest Canada (Sayward, BC) - Big Tree Creek is one of five hatcheries currently being managed by the company. It's in the process of a $3-million expansion.
Sat, 4 July 2009
In February 2009, it was discovered that Canada's Public Safety Minister, Peter Van Loan, alongside the Correctional Service of Canada, had planned the closure of all six of the prison farms owned by the people of Canada and operated by CORCAN - the branch of the Correctional Service that operates rehabilitation programs that provide employment training to inmates. The farms are located in Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario and New Brunswick.
The closure of the farms has resulted in a wave of opposition across the country from organizations, unions and individuals who see the farms as playing an important rehabilitative role, they further the growing interest across the country to support local agricultural infrastructure, they produce food for their own operations, and they hold the potential to become even greater models of economic, environmental and social sustainability.
Deconstructing Dinner was not granted an interview with Minister Van Loan, and judging by the questionable reasons provided for the prison farms closure, it's not surprising the Minister was not interested to explain and defend those reasons.
In early June 2009, Deconstructing Dinner's Jon Steinman visited Kingston, Ontario, home to two of the six farms set to close over the next two years. After viewing the perimeter of Kingston's Frontenac Institution, Jon is convinced that the farm is almost certainly the largest urban farm in Canada (see image below). He sat down across from the Kingston Penitentiary with Andrew McCann - a vocal opponent of the announced closures, to learn more about the situation and the efforts underway to stop the closures.
Andrew McCann - Urban Agriculture Kingston (Kingston, ON) - Andrew connects scholarship with community development through his work on global and local food systems. He is turning his masters thesis into a book which visions collaboration between the polarized worlds of "sustainable local food" and "agricultural biotechnology". Cultural and environmental history underpin his writing, as well as his paid work in Kingston's food system where he has been a CSA (Community Support Agriculture) market gardener, lab tech on the Canadian Potato Genome Project, and initiator of the National Farmers' Union's Food Down the Road: Toward a Sustainable Local Food System for Kingston and Countryside. He recently helped found the Kingston Urban Agriculture Action Committee which has been working with the City of Kingston to develop a progressive municipal policy on community gardens and urban farming. Andrew also instructs Sustainable and Local Food for all Canadians - an on-line distance education course offered by St. Lawrence College.
Dianne Dowling - Farmer Dowling Farm (Kingston, ON) - Dianne farms with her husband Peter on Howe Island - located in the entrance to the St. Lawrence River. The dairy farm is also home to a vegetable CSA operated by their daughter and her partner. Dianne is the Vice-President of the National Farmers Union of Ontario's Local 316, representing farmers in Frontenac and Lennox-Addington counties and the city of Kingston.