MAHONE BAY - The public is invited to attend a free talk and book promotion surrounding the subject matter of open-net pen salmon farming and details about the industry of which the book's authors say more people need to be made aware.
"We're going to talk about the environmental damage, the threats to lobsters, the threats to the remaining wild salmon," said Douglas Frantz, who co-authored Salmon Wars: The Dark Underbelly of our Favourite Fish with Catherine Collins. Frantz and Collins live in Lunenburg,
Salmon Wars is a compilation of research into international salmon farming activities published this year by Henry Holt and Company.
Collins and Frantz will speak and present their book Sept. 21 at the Mahone Bay Centre, off School Street, during a public meeting, which begins at 7 p.m. The event, co-hosted by the Twin Bays Coalition and South Shore chapter of the Council of Canadians, also features remarks from a representative of the environmental charity Ecology Action Centre and a Lunenburg County resident who lives near a fish farm.
For those unable to be present, the session will also be livestreamed on social media.
"We're trying to share the knowledge we've learned in our reporting with as wide an audience as possible, so they can make a determination about, first, what they eat; and second, how they can have an impact on the aquaculture policies of Nova Scotia, which, frankly, are pretty lousy," Frantz said in a phone interview.
The province recently completed public consultations as part of its current review of aquaculture regulations. The Department of Fisheries and Aquaculture said there are 235 marine and land-based aquaculture sites in the province and the industry employs nearly 900 people and contributes $90 million per year to the Nova Scotia economy.
"We're not against aquaculture, per se," Collins said. "Our concerns involve the open net penned farms around the world. Aquaculture can be done well and it's an important area to explore."
Frantz and Collins question the salmon farming industry's claims of producing naturally raised and sustainable products and caution about antibiotics and chemical residue contained in the fish.
The authors are calling for more transparency. Frantz suggested a food label QR code could tell the consumer from where the fish came and other details with a simple scan.
"The salmon industry has controlled the narrative through the development of this industry and we believe there's no doubt the time has come for reform," Collins said. "We believe if the facts are known and the public demands it, that salmon can be raised in a healthier and environmentally friendly way."
The Protect Liverpool Bay is hosting a similar event with the Salmon Wars authors at the Astor Theatre in Liverpool on Sept. 25 with that free public session beginning at 2 p.m.
Additional details can be found at https://www.healthybays.ca/salmon-wars.