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A Salmon of Doubt

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The delicate balance between wild and farmed salmon continues

By: Dana Michell

WHAT: MY Place Speaker Series

WHERE: MY Place

WHEN: Saturday, June 28 at 8 p.m.

Next time you tuck into a tasty salmon steak, or pop some of the smoked morsel onto a cracker, you may want to spare a thought for the trouble brewing in the deep blue sea and beyond. Far past your dinner table, there’s a passionate battle raging about B.C.’s finest fish and unless you’ve been hiding under a rock lately, it’s dividing the nation.

The debate centres on whether the Canadian government should be pouring money into farmed salmon aquaculture – a cheaper, safer and more plentiful option according to supporters – or whether it should be preserving conditions for unique and natural wild salmon, and the fishermen who want to conserve and catch them.

Admittedly, the arguments for and against on both sides of the river can be a little hard to swallow for most of us. Government studies, private evaluations, dodgy statistics, research rhetoric and bias from both sides have harmed credibility and caused confusion for the common taxpayer who’ll bare the brunt of the eventual outcome – we, the people.

This issue is definitely a little stomach churning at the end of a long day when all we want to do is eat our meal in peace, but it’s always good to know a little about a heated topic – to raise, if anything, a healthy dinner table discussion before dessert.

MY Place and Astrid’s Fine Foods present an intellectual, educational and entertaining evening covering this fishy fight, and all in Whistler are welcome.

On Saturday, June 28 at 8 p.m., a leading authority from the fishing industry, Parzical Copes, will present the facts on fish stocks and stress the need for government policy balancing conservation and sustainable harvesting. Also on hand will be some local chefs serving their favourite salmon dishes, and renowned storyteller Dunc Shields will explore the cultural importance of B.C. salmon with stories and songs.

Copes, a p rofessor of economics at Simon Fraser University, is an advisor to Canada’s Sustainable Fisheries Society (SFS) who work for healthy fish stocks and a viable fishing industry for all.

SFS President, John Radosevic said Canada’s fishing industry (and what ends up on your plate) could end up to be just skin and bones unless balanced affirmative action and conservation practices are combined with sustainable harvests.

"A few years ago, the wild salmon industry was worth half a billion dollars. That value has now reduced to a tenth of what it was," said Radosevic. "And that’s not because there’s no salmon around, but management and regulation of the natural resource has changed so radically".

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