Thursday, 24 June 2010

Salmon Farming: Our 'Must Win' Campaign

On the way into work this morning it was great to hear Paul Knight from the Salmon & Trout Association raise the impacts of salmon farming up the agenda on prime time Radio Four.

Despite protestations from an 'industry spokesman' I think Paul did a quite brilliant job of getting the key points across in a very understandable and personable style. Paul didn't use any jargon but left listeners in no doubt regarding what is a very desperate situation. I was really delighted that a fishing organisation came across in such a measured and reasoned manner. For so many years this hasn't been the case. If we are to win the 'hearts and minds' of the public this is just the type of strategy we will need. The stakes are high in this debate, but the science is on our side and we must resist the temptation for sensationalism and playground name calling, as has so often happened in the past.

The Atlantic Salmon is one of the most iconic species on the planet. It's migrations are shrouded in mystery and it it sustainably supports ecosytems, food webs, livelihoods and an army of passionate fishermen!

It is this army of passionate fishermen that we need to mobilise and involve in this issue of such wide ranging importance. From a personal point of view I think this is probably one of the most important battles that fishing has to win; if we lose the consequences do not bear thinking about.

My plea is to every fisherman (no matter what their persuasion, coarse, game, sea) to get behind the S&TA and this campaign of international significance. Perhaps this campaign has the potential to 'unify' angling in a way that up until now we have failed to achieve?

But here also lies angling's Achilles heel.......Apathy. So angling (guided by the S&TA) must seize the opportunity to mount an 'en-masse' a campaign targeted at decision makers and the public regarding just how passionately we feel about this issue. If we do not take a untited stand we may just as well switch the lights off and go fish the stock pond.

Make no mistake salmon farming has some powerful and influential friends, some of whom are perhaps closer to angling than you would think. We need to get the groundswell of public opinion behind will be our most powerful weapon in the fight to get salmon farming onto a more sustainable footing.

I do not want to see and end of salmon aquaculture in this country - my aspirations are see a sustainable industry that can support people, the environment and our wonderful migratory fish.

Many people have given up on wild Salmon, but the Pebble Mine Campaign in Bristol Bay, Alaska shows just how powerful a well thought out Grass-Roots campaign can be (see my worth a look links). The pivitol moment in that campaign was the release of the film Red Gold. Anyone who has watched this film cannot have failed to have become very emotional and passionate regarding the need for the stewardship of our precious natural resources. The film has been shown around the world and it has made a huge difference. I have shown it to family,friends and collegues all of whom are non fisher folk...and they get it! They get that salmon migration is one of the great natural wonders of the world and once it is is gone forever.

Our salmon farming campiagn could learn a lot from Trout Unlimied in the States who have superbly co-ordinated the above.

For me this campaign is a place where our hopes and dreams for Atlantic Salmon will live or die.

Lets get behind the S&TA to make sure we achieve the former!

If nothing else sign the S&TA petition to show your support: