A national boycott of open-net farmed salmon that kicked off earlier this year in Chilliwack at a local store parking lot, is expanding on Nov. 19 to more communities.
Boycott rallies are slated simultaneously for the lunch hour Tuesday at eight Superstore locations across B.C. — including the one on Luckakuck Way in Chilliwack.
The ultimate goal of the coordinated rallies is to get stores to remove the product from their shelves and have open-net pens removed from the migration routes of wild salmon.
The national boycott was launched locally in early 2013.
“The peaceful rallies at all locations will have pamphlets, signs, posters and other tools to help consumers make informed decisions to protect their health, especially children and pregnant women,” said local boycott coordinator Eddie Gardner, a First Nations elder.
Concerns have been raised about health alerts that have been issued, including SeaChoice seafood guidelines, which “red-list” net-pen farmed salmon, cautioning some to avoid it.
“This movement is growing and we plan to expand the boycott of net-pen farmed salmon to the U.S,” he said.
Open-net aquaculture is “a flawed technology,” Gardner said, since it is not known the extent of the damage to wild salmon stocks and habitat caused by open net pens on the migration routes of wild salmon.
No figures are available yet on the impact the boycott has had to date on open-net farmed salmon sales after the campaign launched in January.
An aquaculture industry rep told the Progress in an email that readers should be reminded that fish farmers are farmers as well, who care about their product.
“Debate and discussion about the food we eat and how it’s grown should be encouraged, and in a farming community like Chilliwack, where I grew up, I would hope the voice of the farmers would be considered with respect,” said Grant Warkentin, spokesman for Mainstream Canada.
“Unfortunately, the information presented to the public by the protestors is short on facts and full of fear.
“We are open and transparent about how we produce healthy, safe farmed salmon, grown in B.C. by B.C. farmers.”
Chilliwack will be a boycott location, as well as stores in Victoria, Duncan, Nanaimo, Metrotown in Burnaby, Coquitlam, North Vancouver, and Surrey.
President’s Choice products are sold exclusively at a number of Loblaw’s sites, including Superstores.
“We applaud Superstore for selling President’s Choice’s Free From brand of beef, pork and chicken that are farmed without the use of antibiotics and hormones.
“In keeping with this consumer protection standard, Superstores would do well to remove net-pen farmed salmon, as they contain dangerous levels of chemicals like PCBs that can cause cancer, immune system dysfunction and nervous system damage,” said Elaine Willis, Coquitlam boycott coordinator.