Mowi Canada West’s Sheep Pass salmon farm was the company’s final B.C. production site to receive certification from the Aquaculture Steward Council. (Photo supplied by Mowi Canada West)

Mowi Canada West’s Sheep Pass salmon farm was the company’s final B.C. production site to receive certification from the Aquaculture Steward Council. (Photo supplied by Mowi Canada West)

Conservation group challenges sustainable-certification claims of B.C. salmon farmer

Mowi West Canada refutes accusations it was ‘misleading’ public

A farmed salmon producer is refuting allegations it misled the public by stating all of its B.C. farms meet the certification standards of a prominent sustainable-aquaculture organization.

Earlier this month, Mowi Canada West announced the last two of its 28 Atlantic salmon farms in B.C. had received certification from the Netherlands-based Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC), an independent, market-oriented organization aiming to minimize the environmental and social footprints of commercial aquaculture.

Full certification allows Mowi to market its farmed product with the ASC Certified label.

However Seachoice, a collaboration of the David Suzuki Foundation, Ecology Action Centre and the Living Oceans Society, says because ASC only certifies production farms, Mowi is exploiting a loophole that allows them to claim full certification without accounting for their interim smolt farms.

READ MORE: Mowi’s B.C. salmon farms achieve environmental certification from independent council

“Mowi Canada West’s final grow-out farms might be all ASC-certified, but it should be noted that many of those [interim] farms do not comply fully with the standard because of ASC-approved exemptions from criteria such as no maximum sea lice limit for B.C. certified farms,” Seachoice said.

As a result, Seachoice estimates up to 14 months of Mowi’s production cycle may avoid ASC assessments of sea lice loads, or antibiotic and chemical treatments.

“To state that all of its farms off B.C.’s coast are certified is simply misleading,” Seachoice added. “An ASC label does not necessarily guarantee the fish was ‘farmed responsibly’ from egg to harvest.”

All of Mowi West Canada’s farms, including the interim sites, are certified for Best Aquaculture Practice under the Global Aquaculture Alliance, recognized by Fisheries and Oceans Canada.

READ MORE: First Nations call for end to B.C. open-net salmon farms

Mowi West Canada confirmed its interim farms are not eligible for ASC certification, but hopes the council broadens its criteria in the future.

“ASC standards were developed using a robust and transparent process and are challenging to achieve. ASC certification is a statement of our values and commitment to social and environmental sustainability, something we strive for at all sites, regardless of whether they are eligible for ASC certification,” a spokesperson said.

“Mowi West Canada has certified every site that it is able to under the scope of the ASC Salmon Standard. If this changes and additional types of sites are added to the program’s scope Mowi will add those sites into its certification process.”

In a statement emailed to Black Press Media, an ASC spokesperson said the council is continually updating its certification standards based on the latest science, and will examine how interim farms can fit into its mandate.

“We are aware that the use of “interim grow-out sites” has been adopted in some salmon-producing regions recently, as geographically distinct sites that hold and grow smolts, seeking to improve the ability to manage, amongst other things, sea lice over the salmon’s production cycle. We are investigating the extent of the practice globally, and the implications of incorporating the assessment of interim sites under the ASC Salmon Standard.”

The review will involve stakeholders and interest groups, including Mowi Canada West and Seachoice.



quinn.bender@blackpress.ca

EnvironmentFisheries lawOcean ProtectionSalmon

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Pamela Evans gazes lovingly at her four-year-old French bulldog Jack on Thursday, Nov. 5. The energetic young pup has regained his usual rambunctiousness after recently recovering from a significant illness brought on by consuming discarded cannabis new Brown’s Beach in Ucluelet. (Andrew Bailey photo)
Discarded cannabis a “frequent” threat to pets in Tofino-Ucluelet

“I couldn’t grab him fast enough to get it out of his mouth before he swallowed it.”

The School District 70 administration office in Port Alberni. AV NEWS FILE PHOTO
Four Alberni schools reporting COVID-19 exposures

Exposures occurred between Nov. 19 and Nov. 25 depending on the school

A lightning strike destroyed a radio repeater on Porter Mountain, shutting down the Ministry of Transportation and infrastructure’s highway cam at Sutton Pass. (BC Transportation and Infrastructure photo)
Lightning strike shuts down camera on Tofino-Ucluelet highway

“One of our radio repeater sites was recently struck by lightning.”

The Ahousaht First Nation confirmed its first case of COVID-19 on Nov. 26, 2020. (Westerly file photo)
Ahousaht First Nation on lockdown over COVID-19

“Emotions are high. The anxiety is high. We want our community to pull through.”

A tongue-in-cheek message about wearing a face mask to curb the spread of COVID-19 on a sign outside a church near Royal Columbia Hospital, in New Westminster, B.C., on Sunday, Nov. 29, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C.’s COVID-19 infection count climbs back up to 656

20 more people in hospital, active cases still rising

Dave Wallace coached the Parksville Royals for 23 years. (PQB News file photo)
B.C. baseball community mourns death of legendary Vancouver Island coach Dave Wallace

‘All who knew Dave and his passion for the game will miss him greatly’

THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
B.C. researchers launch study to test kids, young adults for COVID-19 antibodies

Kids and youth can often be asymptomatic carriers of the novel coronavirus

A sign is seen this past summer outside the Yunesit’in Government office west of Williams Lake reminding visitors and members to stay safe amid the COVID-19 pandemic. (Rebecca Dyok photo)
B.C. First Nation leaders await privacy commissioner decision on COVID-19 information

Release of life-saving data cannot wait, says coalition of First Nations

MLA Jennifer Whiteside is B.C.’s new minister of education. She is speaking out against Chilliwack school trustee Barry Neufeld and asking him to resign. (Black Press)
New education minister calls on Chilliwack trustee to resign

Whiteside echoes former minister’s promise to look at options to remove Barry Neufeld

Peter Beckett. ~ File photo
Supreme Court of Canada to decide if it will hear appeal in 2010 wife murder trial

Peter Beckett has stood trial twice for murder in connection with the death of his wife, Laura Letts-Beckett

Tabor Home in Abbotsford. (Ben Lypka/Abbotsford News)
B.C.’s largest COVID-19 care-home outbreak records 19 deaths, 147 cases

Tabor Home in Abbotsford has been battling outbreak since Nov. 4

Most Read