A group of activists opposed to salmon farming held their eighth rally at local grocery stores.
Led by Sto:lo elder Eddie Gardner, the Chilliwack chapter of the group Salmon Feedlot Boycott held placards and demonstrated in front of Superstore on Thursday.
The protest was the group's third at Superstore. They have also been at Walmart three times, Safeway once and Costco in Abbotsford once.
All the stores sell Atlantic salmon produced by fish farms off Vancouver Island.
The focus of the protesters has shifted from environmental sustainability to human health. Critics of fish farms suggest diseases can move from farmed fish in the ocean onto wild fish. The salmon farming industry says this isn't true and, in fact, the industry has helped scientists learn about salmon diseases because of the measures they take to examine fish after the die.
But Thursday's protest in Chilliwack was more focused on the supposed human health risks of farmed salmon.
In a press release issued Wednesday, the group said a Norwegian scientist, Dr. Anne-Lise Birch Monson, has raised concerns about contaminants in
farmed salmon that have a negative effect on brain development and are associated with autism, ADD/ADHD and reduced IQ.
The group says also that the European Union has granted Norway's request to raise permissible levels of toxins in salmon feed.
"Yes, this is a true story, and you can read all about this in the August edition of our publication Legacy," said Jim Wilcox of the U.S.-based Wild Game Fish Conservation International. The activists said Superstore has been bragging about selling pork without hormones or antibiotics yet the company sells farmed salmon in which antibiotics are used.
"This is why we are encouraging customers to ask Superstore to remove farmed Atlantic salmon from their shelves, as it is the ethical and moral thing to do," Eddie Gardner said.
When asked about the protest on Thursday, a Loblaw spokesperson said the company takes environmental concerns seriously and they are "committed to providing our customers with products that are sourced, handled and produced responsibly."
Senior manager of public relations, Elaine Quan, told the Times in an email that Loblaw has a world-leading sustainable seafood policy. She said that increased demand is why the company sources both wild and farmed salmon. "When there are responsible farming practices, through waste and disease management, water pollution from fish farming can be mitigated," Quan said. "The Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC) standards are currently being developed to address these issues."
She added that the company's goal is to source all seafood in the company's stores from sustainable sources by the end of this year.
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