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Canada's Apartheid, by John Stackhouse
  Nov. 3

Welcome to Harlem on the Prairies
  Nov. 3 (Saskatoon, SK)

Crystal's choice: The best of both worlds
  Nov. 5 (Mississauga, ON)

How the Mi'kmaq profit from fear
  Nov. 6 (Cape Breton, NS)

The healing power of hockey
  Nov. 7 (The Pas, MB)

Norma Rae of the Okanagan
  Nov. 8 (Westbank, BC)

Comic genius or 'niggers in red face'?
  Nov. 9 (Regina, SK)

Praying for a miracle
  Nov. 10 (Lac Ste. Anne, AB)

To have and to have not
  Nov. 12 (Moosonee, ON)

Trouble in paradise
  Nov. 19 (Tofino, BC)

A cut of the action
  Nov. 26 (Wabigoon, ON)

The young and the restless
  Dec. 3 (Ashern, MB)

The wireless warrior's digital dream
  Dec. 10 (Ottawa,ON)

'Everyone thought we were stupid'
  Dec. 14 (Salluit, QC)

First step: End the segregation
  Dec. 15 (Last in the series)


Trouble in paradise

Story by John Stackhouse. Photos by John Lehmann.
The Globe and Mail, November 19, 2001

Part 4 of 10: The science of aquaculture

Tofino locator Aquaculture relies on the Atlantic salmon because it is better suited to living at close quarters, and requires less time and less food than Pacific species do to reach market size. As well, it grows hardier with age, whereas Pacific salmon grower more vulnerable - and more likely to die off in large numbers before being harvested.

But the chances are so great that damaged or poorly maintained nets will allow thousands of Atlantic salmon to escape in the home waters of other species, risking disease and genetic complications, that Campbell wonders whether the farms will conjure up an aquatic version of mad cow disease.

[Salmon farming's] opponents “were trying to undermine the goodwill and need for respect”
Kevin Onclin
biologist, Pacific National

The industry responds by saying there is no scientific evidence that it poses a serious environmental threat, or that eating farmed salmon is somehow hazardous to human health. But it has had problems, such as the estimated 100,000 fish that died at one of Pacific National's farms in August.

The company blamed the "die-off" - whose stench reached Tofino - on toxic plankton blooms, which it said spread through the pen like a forest fire, and it spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to clean up the mess and save four million other fish.

The explanation did not stop Friends of Clayoquot Sound from ambushing the company with a public campaign that likened the fish farms to some sort of biological terror. Pacific National officials were livid when Campbell joined the critics and then began to dominate band-council meetings with his complaints.

The opponents "were trying to undermine the goodwill and need for respect," says Kevin Onclin, the biologist who runs Pacific National's operations in Clayoquot Sound. He calls the accusations "so outlandish, so incredibly preposterous" that he wonders why the Ahousat even listened to them.

For their part, the Ahousat think that, no matter what the company or environmentalists say, they understand the risks as well as anyone. Despite the demise of the commercial fishery, most families still go out on the water to catch salmon for themselves. When the fish in the pens die, or escape, they are often the first to know. They also may have the most at risk. And perhaps the most to lose if the farms do not succeed.

THIS STORY AT A GLANCE (Parts 1 to 10):

Photo Essay
The Salmon People

1. 'I took the farm job because it was a last resort'
Big industry, new technology changes life for the salmon people

2. 'Pink gold'
Ahousat's fishing boom

3. 'Friends don't let friends eat farmed salmon'
The reserve's dispute over salmon farming

4. The science of aquaculture
Escapes, 'die-offs', and the many sides of debate

5. Life at Ahousat
No one gets rich, but neither is anyone destitute

6. The frenetic growth of the industry
'When something's been in your family for four or five generations, anything new is a tough pill to swallow'

7. Farming, not catching, the fish
'There's a reason 30 per cent of the world's fish is now produced by aquaculture'
8. Negotiating with the natives
'People really need to spend some time learning about each other. If you end up in court, you've failed.'
9. The risks and challenges of learning to adjust
'There's a future for our people in this industry as long as it's done right'
10. Bridging the gap
'Three or four years ago, we were ready to fight these guys'



photo essays
Two worlds - photo essay

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