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Aquaculture company launches counter campaign against Patagonia 'Artifishal' documentary

It's time for the aquaculture industry to defend itself, says exec.

In response to a critical salmon documentary released earlier in April by outdoor clothing brand Patagonia, a counter-campaign was launched Monday by aquaculture company CleanFish.

The company is encouraging the seafood industry to take to social media with positive stories about aquaculture and tag them #benefishal.

"The hashtag #benefishal is in direct response to the recently released, Patagonia-sponsored documentary film 'Artifishal,' which critiques the efficacy of hatcheries in wild fisheries and then slams marine pen farming without acknowledging the beneficial role aquaculture can play in feeding the world," said CleanFish Marketing and Communications Director Alisha Lumea. The hastag is being pushed through Instagram and Twitter.

Patagonia Provisions, the food division for outdoor apparel company Patagonia, sells wild salmon it says comes from fisheries in Alaska and Washington state that do not have hatchery fish supplementation. The company is promoting its Artifishal documentary through showings at its various stores and other outlets in North America and Europe and on social media.

"Most of us in the industry know how incredibly sustainable aquaculture can be, and lament to each other how the wild-equals-good, farmed-equals-bad narrative continues even after so much evidence to the contrary," said Lumea.

Lumea said the #benefishal campaign is not intended to promote any single fish or producer. "The hope is that the industry will get behind it to promote aquaculture and move the story forward, she said. If we who know aquaculture best won't speak up in its defense, we'll never realize its potential."

CleanFish supplies farmed seafood from small-scale aquaculture operations around the world. In April 2018, the San Francisco-based company was purchased by Boston-based Sea 2050, a holding company for Wulf's Fish.

On Monday, celebrity chef Andrew Zimmern responded to the Instagram hashtag for the campaign. The chef has more than 700,000 followers on his Instagram page. Zimmern is helping Verlasso market its Chilean farmed salmon.

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