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Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) has been working behind closed doors with members of the salmon farming industry to develop a standard that would allow net pen salmon farms in Canada to be certified as "organic." This standard is now being considered for Canadian regulation and is open to a public comment period.

Public input is needed! As written, all an industrial salmon farm would have to do to qualify for the organic label is make two simple changes to their feed: use organic grains and use more wild fish to replace poultry by-products. Everything else about industrial net pen salmon farms—antibiotics, biocides, sea lice, disease, uncontrolled waste, and escapes—would remain unchanged.

The public comment period is open until August 30, 2010 and we are urging residents of Canada and consumers in the United States to take action and oppose the organic certification of net pen salmon farms. The US remains the largest market for Canadian farmed salmon and until US organic aquaculture standards are passed into regulation, Canadian “organic” salmon could be sold on American shelves and menus.

Note: We will add this formal comment submission as an addendum to this petition.

Posted by the Coastal Alliance for Aquaculture Reform

Letter to
Canadian General Standards Board Anne Caron
Re: The proposed Canadian Organic Aquaculture Standard

Components of the proposed Canadian Organic Aquaculture Standard violate the very principles of organic production:

The standards allow the routine use of antibiotics and parasiticides, which is inconsistent with current organic standards and what consumers have come to expect when choosing organic. No other organic meat on the market may be sold as organic if antibiotics are used.

The standards allow more wild fish to be used in feed than farmed fish produced, allowing a net-loss of marine protein that depletes natural systems. Organic principles within the aquaculture standard state biological productivity must be maximized.

The standards do not include any measures to prevent well-documented impacts of net pens on the health of wild fish and marine ecosystems:

• Escapes of farmed fish,
• Lethal interactions with marine mammals,
• Uncontrolled disposal of fish feces into the ocean, and
• The spread of disease and parasites lethal to wild fish.

In the very least, a Canadian organic aquaculture standard needs to reflect practices that address the well-researched impacts of aquaculture. Such a standard would support producers that are using innovative practices to deliver truly sustainable products.

I urge the Canadian General Standards Board to ensure that the “Canadian Organic Aquaculture” standard does not accommodate either the use of non-organic, wild fish as feed or open net pen systems. It is our hope that the organic label will continue to provide consumers with a clear and consistent understanding of how their food is produced and ensure them that their choice of an organic food product supports a safer, more humane, more sustainable environment.

The Undersigned

Bronwen Barnett started this petition with a single signature, and now has 449 supporters. Start a petition today to change something you care about.