My research on the politics of salmon aquaculture and fish farming focused on British Columbia, Chile, and Scotland, three of the world’s largest producers of aquaculture salmon. The politics of salmon farming is focused around the environmental movement and the economic and ecological repercussions of increased salmon farming activity. In 2006, tourism in British Columbia contributed over 6.8 billion dollars to the provincial GDP and supported 120,400 jobs. Natured-based tourism generated approximately 1.55 billion dollars of revenue in 2001, and British Columbia’s primary tourism product is natural-wildlife, fishing, and wilderness exploration activities. Over 50% of nature-based tourism in the province operates on Vancouver Island where aquaculture farms have been taking over all the land/water. Overall, the economic importance of salmon aquaculture to the province is extremely small in comparison to the profits brought in by sports fishing, commercial fishing, salmon processing, and marine tourism.
The politics of salmon in these nations often surrounds the economic aspect of it all. Individual businesses and corporations vs. the local environmentalist groups arguing that the ecological damage being done by increased aquaculture activity is far too great in comparison to the economic advantages brought to the few workers that these farms employ.
In Scotland and Chile, the discussion was the same, as the political debate surrounding aquacultures was dominated by discussions of job losses through aquaculture. As the process becomes more automated and production shifts from Scotland and Chile to smaller countries like Norway, South Africa, Australia, and New Zealand, local farmers and populations are becoming more and more irritated, and thus more prone to take action. Another factor is the huge job losses being suffered by local fishermen in these countries who have had their livelihood stripped and given to international corporations. Ecological damage also has to be paid for by the governments in question and not the salmon aquaculture corporations who can claim that their chemicals are not the reasons for increased water pollution and decreasing fish biodiversity.
Biography of author: born in Seattle, Washington, lived in Winston-Salem, NC for the past 17 years. Interested in my impact on the environment and whether the environment can really be saved at all considering the exponential growth of humanity’s population, and the nature of capitalism and tragedies of the commons.