Wild salmon advocates to leverage Olympics 

Pure Salmon Campaign hopes to hand deliver letter to Norway’s King

In its quest to save wild salmon, members of the Pure Salmon Campaign will be shining a spotlight in Whistler during the 2010 Olympics.

It's here that they hope to hand-deliver a letter to King Harald V of Norway, who is expected to visit Norway's Olympic "home base" called the Norwegian Church Abroad, which will be located at Millennium Place.

"Hopefully the King of Norway will accept out letter and take on board our concerns," said Don Staniford, global coordinator of the Pure Salmon Campaign.

"We hope that we can persuade Norwegian companies to clean up their act, move farms out of the path of migrating wild salmon and introduce closed containment systems to protect wild fish from sea lice, mass escapes and infectious diseases."

Norwegian-owned companies, Staniford explained, control more than 90 per cent of B.C.'s salmon farms.

Members of the Pure Salmon Campaign say these farms pose serious threats to the wild salmon in the Pacific waters.

John Werring, salmon conservation biologist with the David Suzuki Foundation, said the scientific data shows fish farms have impacts on the local wild salmon populations.

"One of the things that we do rely on is the international scientific community and the scientific findings and if you look in every jurisdiction where there's salmon farming on the scale that is practiced in Scotland, Norway, Chile, off the coast of Canada both east coast and west coast, the impacts to the wild stocks in those areas where those fish farms are has been devastating," said Werring.

"One could argue that it's climate related. Certainly there are issues around climate change. However, the decimation of those stocks has been in a progressive fashion."

The letter to King Harald has 170 signatories including members of First Nations, the David Suzuki Foundation, fishermen and wilderness tourism operators.

"We are asking the King of Norway - a keen fisherman - to stand up for B.C.'s wild salmon shoulder to shoulder with First Nations, wilderness tourism business, scientists and concerned citizens from all over the world," said Staniford.

The King has been invited to an event hosted by the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs in Vancouver on Feb. 16 - the day of the Norway versus Canada hockey game. He has also been invited to a Wild Salmon Circle rally in Vancouver on Feb. 20.

According to the Norwegian Embassy in Ottawa, the King has no plans to meet with members of the Pure Salmon Campaign.

The Olympics, said Jo Sletbak, deputy head of the embassy, are neither the time nor the place for such a meeting.

"The program of the Royal Family when attending the Vancouver Games is not official in any way," said Sletbak. "The Royal Family are the guests of the Norwegian Olympic Committee while they are attending the Games and they are there to see the athletes and support the Norwegian athletes during the Games and that is the extent to that."

The Pure Salmon Campaign will also be hosting various screenings of Farmed Salmon Exposed around B.C. and in Whistler this month.



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