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Greenpeace ship Rainbow Warrior starts B.C. visit targeting salmon farms

7 October 2013 (Tofino, B.C.) – Greenpeace’s flagship the Rainbow Warrior arrived on Canada’s west coast this morning and hung a giant banner off her side reading “End destructive salmon farming” in solidarity with a rally of concerned citizens on Chesterman’s beach in Tofino.

The iconic flagship was warmly welcomed by the Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation. On the beach, people gathered to spell out “Save our salmon.” Participants wanttoprotect the area’s ailing wild salmon stocks and other marine life from threats associated with salmon mariculture, like disease and pollution. They want to ensure that the Clayoquot Sound Biosphere Reserve, and its species stay healthy.

“The people gathered today use our coasts for their livelihood and their recreation and they know the negative impacts of net-pen salmon farm operations,” said Sarah King, Greenpeace Canada oceans campaign coordinator. “Today Greenpeace joins them in solidarity, demanding the open net-pen salmon farming industry transition out of our sensitive marine environments, like Clayoquot Sound.”

Salmon raised in net cages in the marine environment has been flagged as a product of concern by Greenpeace Canada since 2008 when the “Redlist” of harmfully fished and farmed seafood species sold in the Canadian retail market was released. Since then, the organization, in collaboration with other ocean conservation groups, has urged retailers to seek and invest in, alternatives to net-pen farmed salmon. Earlier this year, the Fisheries and Oceans Standing Committee released a report on closed containment technology recommending increased investment in closed containment projects where salmon is grown in closed systems, usually on land.

In 2012, Overwaitea Food Group (OFG), a west coast retailer owned by the Jim Pattison Group, took a green step forward and stopped selling net-pen farmed salmon. Instead they offer a more sustainable closed containment salmon product and wild salmon. Since then, Safeway has featured a closed containment option, and Loblaw publically supported seeking net-pen alternatives. “Raising salmon in our oceans is putting Canada’s marine wildlife and their habitat at risk,” said Sarah King, Greenpeace Canada oceans campaign coordinator. “It’s time we abandon this failed model of aquaculture and seek more sustainable alternatives. The government needs to stop protecting the salmon farming industry and start protecting our oceans.”

The risk of disease transfer from farmed to wild salmon has been a key threat associated with the net-pen industry in B.C. for many years but has become more urgent with highly contagious viruses being recently detected in farmed and wild salmon. Greenpeace Canada last visited the waters of Clayoquot Sound in 2011, during the Cohen Commission’s judicial inquiry into the collapse of the Fraser River sockeye salmon. That is when information about past disease outbreaks on Clayoquot farms was made public. Despite calls by concerned groups to halt industry expansion in the area, a new farm site was approved last year. Greenpeace denounces the government’s failure to seriously protect B.C.’s wild salmon.

While in B.C. the Rainbow Warrior will host many activities, including open boat days in both North Vancouver and Victoria, where the public is invited to get onboard this unique sailing vessel and meet the captain and crew. For more information, visit http://www.greenpeace.ca/shiptour

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For more information:
Mary Ambrose, Media and Public Relations Officer, (416) 930-9055
Sarah King, Oceans campaign coordinator, (778) 227-6458

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