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BC salmon farmers say Seafood Watch rating gives buyers confidence boost

Suppliers say report shows industry is working hard to improve environmental performance and transparency.

British Columbia salmon farmers welcomed Monday's news that the Atlantic salmon they grow and sell is now no longer listed on the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch red list but has been elevated to the NGO’s yellow, or Good Alternative, list.

“Our customers want third-party assurance that they are buying responsibly raised salmon," said Marine Harvest Canada Sales Director Ken Taylor, adding this will increase customer confidence when buying Marine Harvest salmon.

BC Salmon Farmers Association Executive Director Jeremy Dunn said the new ranking matters to buyers.

“The ranking is certainly an indication that our members are working in the right direction and showing that we have increased the environmental performance and transparency of the sector,” said Dunn. “It's going to matter to certain customers in the US, particularly California. We exported 50,000 metric tons to the US last year.

"This isn't the end of the sustainability journey, it's a checkpoint along the way. We will continue to innovate, become more transparent. There's still room for improvement."

Dave Mergle, managing director of British Columbia-based Ocean Quality, which is Grieg Seafood's sales organization, agrees.

"This reflects the constant improvements and changes to business that BC farmers made over the years," Mergle told IntraFish. "It seems that there is limited interaction between farmed and wild salmon. Seafood Watch was extremely diligent, impartial and comprehensive in its report."

However, not all were happy with the news. NGO SeaChoice disagreed with the ranking, saying there wasn't "conclusive scientific evidence."

Dunn said the report was peer reviewed by more than 20 independent experts and the "ranking should stand for itself.

"It's unfortunate that SeaChoice decided that they won’t acknowledge the gains the industry has made. I think that's because they're fundamentally opposed to farming in the ocean," he told IntraFish.

"For there to be a more sustainable industry, I think it's important for conservation groups, like SeaChoice, to recognize fisheries, ground or net, and aquaculture that are making sustainable changes. They should continue to hold others accountable but also recognize progress," Dunn said.

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