Green Wednesday fish farm doc a great, educational experience

February 15, 2009 by  

Shauna MacKinnon answers questions at the latest Green Wednesday event in Langley. (Zoë Tarlow photo)

Shauna MacKinnon answers questions at the latest Green Wednesday event in Langley. (Zoë Tarlow photo)

Farming the Seas offers a lot of information in very little time, but makes an important claim: Aquaculture is dangerous is so many ways.

Farming the Seas, a 55-minute documentary shown at the latest Green Wednesday at the Langley campus, that begins in B.C. and then takes the viewer to Norway, Scotland, China and Thailand, where they have seen the disastrous affects of aquaculture.

Aquaculture began with good intentions as a solution to overfishing, which caused the salmon population to drop.

At first fish-farming seemed like a brilliant idea. Millions of salmon are raised besides other sea-life, but within a caged net that floats in the sea. One aboriginal in the film referred to them as “floating hotels” for salmon.

But one of the greatest problems with fish-farming is disease. The fish get sockeye disease (a viral infection) and sea lice, which spread quickly throughout the population trapped within the net.

Farming the Seas shows numerous clips of millions of fish being thrown away, because of these diseases.

Since these fish grow in the same waters as wild salmon, these diseases affect other wildlife as well. In B.C and Washington alone, nearly 1 million salmon have escaped from their farm, spreading the disease throughout the ocean.

This problem does not just affect the fish population, it affects what we eat. The treatment for these diseases is antibiotics, which contain pesticides that are fed orally.

The audience gasped when it saw a one-year-old farmed salmon compared to a one-year-old wild salmon. The farmed salmon was triple the size of wild salmon, because of the hormones the fish are given to make them grow faster, therefore making it on the fish market quicker.

This mass-production not only affects the livelihood of fishermen, but other marine life, such as whales, turtles, bears and seals who depend on them for food. As the wild salmon’s population continues to decline, this means little food for the animals higher on the food chain.

Farming the Seas spares us the horror of other documentaries when they show us a cute cub who’s starving. Thankfully, in this film, viewers are shown clips of a bear snacking on wild salmon, and seals dancing in the ocean while clouds of fish disperse in unison, creating a miraculous vision.

Other issues addressed in the film include the extinction of blue fin tuna and the repercussions of farming shrimp.

Farming the Seas is an information overload, Bbut information that we should be loaded up with. Experts such as David Suzuki, Sylvia A. Eerie and UBC professors are featured throughout the documentary.

And the documentary is not just about doom. It shows solutions to the problem, that as a society we need to address.

Since there is so much information to process in less than an hour, it made a huge difference to be watching Farming the Seas with people who wanted to converse about the issues.

Green Wednesday’s at Kwantlen’s Langley campus is about education. The room was packed with people who watch the weekly films to gain knowledge. But what separates this from sitting on a cozy couch at home or surfing the internet, is that these people want to talk about it.

At the end of the documentary, Shauna MacKinnon, a campaigner for Living Ocean Society, was there for a Q&A. People raised their hand to ask questions that were not addressed in the film, or to get more understanding about what the film brought up and the positive and negative advances in the fishing industry since the film was made in 2004.

Not everyone’s idea of fun is watching a documentary called Farming the Seas, jam-packed with information about aquaculture, then diving into a deep discussion concerning what kind of fish you consume. But if it is, you’re going to have a blast.


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