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Nova Scotia seafood mogul calls for moratorium on sea farming

May 13, 2021  By  Nestor Arellano

A Canadian billionaire who has made his fortune in the international seafood business is calling on a moratorium in salmon sea farming.

John Risley, who in 1976 founded Clearwater Seafoods and grew it to be the largest shellfish producer in North America, said in his recent article in the Atlantic Business magazine that salmon cage-farming in coastal waters may “represent a deadly enemy to salmon’s survival.”

The escape of farmed salmon into open water also pose a danger to population of wild salmon, he said.

“We now know, for a scientific fact, these fish often in-breed with their wild cousins, thereby exposing them to diseases previously unknown to the species, reducing their fitness and productivity strength,” Risley wrote. “Ultimately, this can lead to the extinction—yes, the extinction—of wild salmon in river systems proximate to aquaculture activity.”

The Atlantic Fish Farmers Association responded to Risley’s article by saying it was full of errors, according to report from the online publication Saltwire.

Sue Farquharson , the organization’s executive director, said salmon farming did not cause the wild salmon population to decline. She said that it was because of falling wild stock that salmon farming was developed.

Risley called for an open debate on what he called the “real cost” of the salmon farming industry.

“If the outcome of the debate is to allow further expansion of the industry, then at least we’ve had the discussion and we understand the consequences. But no expansion should be allowed until that debate has been had,” he said.

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