The British Columbia Salmon Farmers Association (BCSFA) has launched Sharing Salmon, an organization aimed at helping salmon farmers and their communities work together to protect wild salmon populations, the environment, promote community discussion around aquaculture and its impacts, and ensure a way of life for future generations.
We sat down with Stewart Muir, one of the organizers of Sharing Salmon, and asked him a few questions about how the organization got started and where it's heading.
How did Sharing Salmon start and what was the mission of the original discussions?
Sharing Salmon started out in early 2018 as an attempt to see if a way could be found to improve the public conversation in British Columbia around salmon farming. Authentic voices in communities had been silenced in a atmosphere of hostility and misinformation.
Why did you choose to start these conversations?
We felt the only path forward lay in going back to the roots of what really mattered to people, in terms of understanding what they had in common, because we were getting nowhere by only focusing all the time on the differences and disagreements.
How did you get started with these important conversations and what came out of them?
Implementation began with a couple of community meetings where those who were interested in taking part could come in and help establish a baseline. Two sessions were held, in Nanaimo and Campbell River, with a combined turnout of 75. Facilitated dialogue sessions led to a report that flagged the importance of wild salmon and sustainability at the core of salmon farming. No matter what their background or education, whether they were in salmon farming occupations or not, participants’ values associated with those two things shot to the top of the list. A number of other queries were also pursued, resulting in a pretty extensive report that was circulated to participants, member companies of the BC Salmon Farmers Association, and elected officials at all levels of government.
What does your logo represent? How does it tie into the overall mission of the organization?
Around the same time as we began , we asked local First Nations leader Chief Curtis Wilson, who is also an artist, to consider providing us with an artistic interpretation of what we were aspiring to do. He went away and took some time to develop the visual motif that we adopted as our logo. It’s so much more than a picture. Chief Wilson called his distinctive artwork, more of a story really, Sharing Salmon. It signifies not just the fundamental importance of First Nations interests in salmon farming. It also acknowledged the differences that exist while suggesting they real dialogue is possible. This is why we credit the chief with originating the main themes of our brand, an authentic representation of community values.
How are you spreading your message and what you learned?
Public education was one of the most important values flagged for us. As a result, we are producing a series of videos based on distinctive people and places in the world of salmon farming: hatcheries, educational institutions, scientific labs, salmon farms large and small. The videos will be hosted at sharingsalmon.com as well as via our new Sharing Salmon Youtube channel.
What are you sharing in these videos?
As we realized how much wild salmon meant to the aquaculture community, we decided it was time to launch something really distinctive. Hence we now have the Wild Salmon Protectors program, with more than one dozen Protectors now identified on the website. These are individuals who are so convinced their work in aquaculture protects wild fish that they want to share this zeal with others with their photos and names. Over time, we hope to add scores more, making a powerful statement that our industry is about real people and not faceless corporations. The more we add, the easier it will become to add more, and the influence of our mission will grow.
What other organizations are involved?
Sharing Salmon was made possible by the BC Salmon Farmers Association. Recently, we received an encouraging word from a local city councillor who has been following our progress. Only a year ago, she said, it was almost unthinkable to raise the topic of salmon farming in her community unless it was with someone you really trusted. Because of Sharing Salmon, she felt, things have already begun to change. This is exactly the kind of development we’ve wanted to see, but even we were surprised it has manifested so quickly.
What's next for Sharing Salmon?
Sharing Salmon is going to be a journey and we hope others want to come along. Our next step is to add a blog to sharingsalmon.com, at the request of one of our founding Protectors, Jean Schoenfelder of Quatsino Lodge. We’re always on the lookout for stories. Maybe you have one to share? Let us know at email@example.com, or get involved with the Sharing Salmon organization by signing up for updates on their website. Meanwhile, check out Sharing Salmon on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.