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Anybody who knows anything about the salmon farming industry understands that such words do not even belong in the same sentence let alone used to certify freaky farmed salmon.
“The ASC label is complimentary to the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) label; which is used on certified and sustainably wild caught fish,” claimed a press release issued by the ASC (17 April).
“With the introduction of the ASC certification program for farmed
seafood, an important step is made towards being able to credibly
demonstrate to consumers that all fish sold comes from producers who
have worked to limit their impact on the environment.”
The awful truth is that the Aquaculture Stewardship Council ought to be renamed the Abominable Salmon Council.
Shock horror, it can be exclusively revealed that the ‘Abominable Salmon’ is so vital to the ASC’s nightmare vision that farmed salmon is predicted to account for over 50% of the ASC’s revenue stream.
Hank Cauley, currently serving on the ASC Supervisory Board, let the disease-ridden farmed salmon slip out of the bag in 2010 when he advised Pew Environment Group (where he works as a ‘Senior Officer’):
In another email sent to the Pew Environment Group in April 2010, the ASC board member admitted that: “if you want to have a certification program for aquaculture then salmon is key.”
That's why farmed salmon are pictured on the front cover of the ASC's glossy brochures:
In January 2009, Mr. Cauley further suggested that: “it’s smoke and mirrors if it doesn't make sense economically.”
Mr. Cauley’s rabid support for the ASC landed him in hot water last year when all reference to the Pew Environment Group was removed from the ASC web-site.
[Photo: Hank Cauley fist-pumping for the ASC at Seafood Summit 2011 in Vancouver]
Read more via ‘Pew Environment Group “distancing” itself from ASC? Clarification about ASC Board membership coming’
Pew Environment Group’s Managing Director Joshua Reichert was forced to state publicly in February 2011 that: “The Pew Environment Group has no position regarding the ASC, either pro or con.”
However, in their ‘Comments on the final draft standard of the Salmon Aquaculture Dialogue’, Pew Environment Group made it clear that the ASC’s salmon standard was not worthy of support:
“In the final analysis of whether or not Pew Environment Group (PEG) can support the Salmon Aquaculture Dialogue (SAD) standard we return to our initial question of whether the standard sufficiently drives environmental improvement. Unfortunately, the answer is no.
Read Pew Environment Group's response in full - online here
Mr. Cauley knows the certification game all too well and was the architect of another fake certification scheme – the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC).
As Executive Director of the FSC from 1999 to 2002 he presided over “incredible growth” which branded 8.7 million acres of forests in the United States alone as ‘certified’.
The FSC has been fiercely criticised since being set up in 1993. “From the falsification of documents, to illegal third party concessions and environmental damage in forests from Guyana to Nicaragua to Brazil, over the years FSC has been found to have certified the uncertifiable,” wrote Matilda Lee in an article – “Can we trust the FSC?” – published in The Ecologist in 2009 (for more background visit ‘FSC-Watch’).
The ASC, by certifying farmed salmon (and shrimp), is now following the same destructive path as the FSC and is certifying the uncertifiable. Indeed, anyone who seriously believes that farmed salmon can ever be sustainable, responsible and environmentally friendly must be certifiable themselves.
By leaping from the FSC to the ASC and believing that farmed salmon should be certified, Mr. Cauley is clearly a nutbar.
The credibility (and sanity) of the panda (WWF) must also be
seriously called into question. Lest it be forgotten that it was WWF
who jumped into bed with Unilever in founding
the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) in 1996. Unilever, as it
happens, is the company which set up the first salmon farms in the 1960s and also founded Marine Harvest. In 2008, Marine Harvest also entered into a corporate partnership
with WWF Norway “to strengthen the focus on sustainable fish farming
with leading environmental standards” (more of that deal later!).
In 2004, WWF set up the ‘Aquaculture Dialogues’ with both Marine Harvest and Nutreco’s subsidiary Skretting on the ‘Steering Committee’ of the ‘Salmon Aquaculture Dialogue’. The ‘Aquaculture Dialogues’, as it turned out (it was not revealed publicly until 2009), acted as a Trojan Horse in the battle for certification.
As WWF explains: “When finalized, the standards are given to a new organization, the Aquaculture Stewardship Council, that will be responsible for working with independent, third party entities to certify farms that are in compliance with the standards.”
In fact, WWF funded the expenses of the ASC’s first ‘Development Director’, Dr. Philip Smith. In the incestuous world of salmon farming certification, it will come as no surprise to discover that Dr. Smith used to work for the fish feed companies EWOS (a subsidiary of Cermaq) and Nutreco as well as Marine Harvest. Dr. Smith left the ASC last year and joined another salmon farming company (the Scottish Salmon Company).
WWF’s aquaculture standards are therefore the vehicle with which the ASC are railroading the certification of farmed salmon (as well as the equally destructive farmed shrimp).
As Hank Cauley admitted in an email to Pew Environment Group in 2009:
Fast-forward to 2012 and the ASC is attempting to invent the ‘responsible’ and ‘sustainable’ farmed salmon.
WWF’s role in pandering to corporate interests is nothing short of prostitution – what Jeffrey St. Clair famously coined ‘Panda Porn’. The so-called ‘panda cash machine’ or ‘Wicked Wildlife Fund’ has now become “little more than the well-paid zombies of the corporations they have gotten into bed with”.
Scepticism of WWF’s farmed salmon standards and the ASC’s certification of farmed salmon is simmering away. A petition via the organization ‘Change’, signed by over 1,500 people from all over the world, includes:
“Please help stop farmed salmon being certified as ‘sustainable’, ‘environmental’ and ‘responsible’. WWF, the Aquaculture Stewardship Council and Marine Harvest (the largest salmon farming company in the world) are attempting to green-wash salmon farming via 'Standards for Responsible Aquaculture'. However these standards fail to address welfare and food safety issues and allow for the use of toxic chemicals, antibiotics, unsustainable feed, escapes, non-native species, GM feed and the killing of marine mammals.”
Sign the petition online via ‘Stop the Certification of Farmed Salmon as ‘Sustainable’ and ‘Responsible’’
The ‘Final Draft Standards for Responsible Salmon Aquaculture’
was published by WWF in February this year and immediately attracted
criticism – even from a member of the Salmon Aquaculture Dialogue’s ‘Steering Committee’ in the shape of the Coastal Alliance for Aquaculture Reform (CAAR).
“The final draft Salmon Aquaculture Dialogue (SAD) standard is stronger than any of the other certification systems currently being touted by the industry,” said Jay Ritchlin, Director of Marine Conservation at CAAR member group the David Suzuki Foundation, and a Steering Committee member of the Salmon Aquaculture Dialogue. “Unfortunately, there are too many uncertainties to say it is strong enough to protect wild salmon or marine ecosystems and, for the CAAR groups, that is our bottom line.”
CAAR is particularly concerned that the standard falls short in a number of significant areas including elimination of disease transmission between farmed and wild fish. It does not adequately address the impacts of existing exotic species. While there are some important limits on the use and discharge of antibiotics and toxic sea lice chemicals, the standard does not eliminate them.
Nevertheless, despite such criticism: “CAAR will remain on the SAD Steering Committee to influence the standard's implementation, to follow through on what has been a strong process and to evaluate the evidence collected from farms that apply to use the standard.”
Read more via ‘Final Salmon Aquaculture Dialogue standards won't solve threat to wild salmon’
GAAIA believes that any standard which supports the status quo – and consequently sanctions the use of toxic chemicals, the killing of marine mammals, escapes, waste pollution, sea lice infestation, the spread of infectious diseases and use of GM and unsustainable feed – is not worth the paper it is written on.
Judge for yourselves whether it's all a load of hot air by reading the final draft of the WWF/ASC farmed salmon standards online here!
Opposition to the ASC is growing all over the globe. In 2009, a
coalition of 70 NGO from around the world signed a letter expressing
opposition to the ASC. “The proposed certification by WWF promises to
legitimize environmentally and socially damaging forms of aquaculture in
the name of cheap prawns and salmon,” Natasha Ahmad, secretary of Asia
Solidarity Against Industrial Aquaculture, told SeafoodSource.
“It’s high time that WWF stops pandering to the interests of big
business and instead begins to listen to the voices of real people that
rely on the oceans and forests to survive.”
Read more via ‘NGO Oppose Aquaculture Stewardship Council’
Intrafish reported in August 2010 that:
“Salmon farming opponent the Pure Salmon Campaign blasted the standard. “Any standard which merely rewards the status quo and allows open-net cages to continue to pollute our global oceans via infectious diseases, toxic chemicals, sea lice, escapees, untreated wastes and uneaten feed is not worth the green-washed paper it is written on. Marine Harvest would have us all believe that the industry has come a long way and made significant progress but the ongoing spread of ISA in Norway and increasing chemical resistance to sea lice serves only to remind us that even the trumpeted industry leader is lagging behind in the Dark Ages,” said Don Staniford, global coordinator for the Pure Salmon Campaign.
“There is no right way to do something wrong,” said Green Warriors' leader Kurt Oddekalv
Read more via ‘Green Warriors: WWF Undermines the Environmental Movement’
Greenpeace’s ‘Green Action’ campaign also criticised WWF and Marine Harvest for their toxic relationship in 2010.
Here’s Marine Harvest’s billionaire owner John Fredriksen (75th richest
man in the world worth $11.3 billion according to the Forbes ‘Rich List’) pictured next to what 'Dollars & Sense' magazine dubbed ‘Branda the Panda’.
"Meet the ASC at the European Seafood Exposition 2012 in Brussels," says the ASC on it's web-site. "This year we will be able to tell you all about the ASC consumer-facing logo, Chain of Custody requirements, ASC Farm Accreditation and Certification requirements, and certification against the ASC Tilapia Standard and ASC Pangasius Standard. Various side workshops and events can also be expected during the three days."
If you're in Brussels, why not visit the ASC booth and grill them like a PCB-contaminated fatty farmed salmon on why the hell the ASC is certifying farmed salmon (and shrimp for that matter)?
Last month, the ASC’s CEO Chris Ninnes was hawking the “sustainability” aspects of the ASC at a conference in the United Kingdom although the word ‘sustainable’ had been strangely dropped from his presentation.
Now see the ASC’s web-site again and notice the word ‘sustainable’ is mysteriously back!
The ASC advocates a strong ‘chain of custody standard’.
However, the salmon farming industry by its very nature breaks the chain.
Or with respect to Norwegian salmon farming, it's more a case of
robbing Pedro to pay Jens Stoltenberg (the Norwegian Prime Minister) or
John Fredriksen (the owner of Marine Harvest).
In a shameless display of window-dressing, Marine Harvest wears WWF’s panda logo like a green fig leaf.
“The ASC has become an extremely rigid environmental standard, and I
have yet to see an equally strict standard for other food products,”
claimed Marine Harvest’s Director of Communications Jorgen
Read more via ‘Marine Harvest to Run Trial ASC Certification’
Thankfully (for Marine Harvest), the all-smiling new CEO of the ASC (Chris Ninnes) is a former executive of the MSC who happily pledges even lower and more streamlined standards.
If the ASC follows the same trajectory of growth as the MSC then the
marketplace will be flooded with “sustainable” farmed salmon sooner than
the ‘panda cash machine’ (aka ‘Branda the Panda’) can say ‘kerching’.
Read more codswallop (i.e. bullshit) via ‘The ASC: Making Sense of Sustainability Through Positive Engagement’
Just watch as the Abominable Salmon Council (aka Aquaculture Stewardship Council) attempts to greenwash salmon farming with a glossy PR makeover.
Hogwash more like it. With the all the infectious disease problems in Canada, for example, this could be a case for a real consumer champion, Advertising Standards Canada.
As the ASC (Advertising Standards Canada) says: "Truth in advertising matters". The ASC (Aquaculture Stewardship Council) would do well to remember that when it comes to marketing farmed salmon. If the ASC is serious about their claims to being 'honest' and 'credible' then perhaps they will use similar advertising to the 'Farmed & Dangerous' campaign?
The salmon spin doctors in Scotland, Norway, Canada and Chile have
all peddled farmed salmon as “sustainable”, “environmentally friendly”
and even “organic” – hoodwinking a gullible public in the process.
Read more via ‘Complaint: Norwegian salmon ad deceptive’
Last year, in a presentation at the Seafood Summit in Vancouver, the ASC made a plea for patience. “The ASC is on a journey here – a long journey,” said Dr. Philip Smith (the then CEO of the ASC). “It’s extremely important to understand how much financial and human resources that are needed to put in in order to drive change. It does take time. Unrealistic timelines will create problems for managing expectations.”
Jose Villalon of WWF was also at pains to stress: “Sustainability is a journey and we’re all on the march together – the word ‘sustainability’ implies you’ve already reached your destination. Hence the ASC is staying away from the word sustainability and focussing on responsible. Please appreciate that the ASC is a work in progress”.
Read more via ‘ASC on a ‘mission impossible’ to brand farmed salmon as ‘responsible’’
Judging by the abject lack of progress since, the ASC looks nailed on to achieve the impossible – making the ‘corrupted’ MSC look an honourable organization! Earlier this year, the MSC suffered a body blow as Alaskan wild salmon producers pulled out en masse of the certification program.
Read more via ‘Marine Stewardship Council losing ground with wild salmon fisheries’
Last year, the MSC was accused of “duping” consumers by giving its ‘eco-label’ to fisheries where stocks are tumbling. Richard Page, a Greenpeace oceans campaigner, told The Guardian that decisions to certify some fisheries “seriously undermine” the MSC's credibility. “I will go as far as to say consumers are being duped,” he said. “They think they are buying fish that are sustainable and can eat them with a clean conscience."
Read more via ‘Sustainable fish customers 'duped' by Marine Stewardship Council’
“Unfortunately, perception is reality,” said Gerald Leape of the Pew Environment Group in 2010. “The MSC’s label falsely advertises the message that all krill are sustainably caught and that consuming krill-based omega 3 supplements or purchasing farmed salmon raised on krill meal is okay. Nothing could be further from the truth.”
Or how about a secret recipe ASC-certified KFC salmon stick?
Marine Harvest Canada blogged about it via 'Marine Harvest teams up with McDonalds' and the Norwegian Embassy in the United States bragged:
“The aim is to go global and get the Norwegian salmon into all Mc Donald’s' 31.000 locations around the world. If the salmon wrap sales hit the magic number of $30 million within the first year, the wrap may be ready for launch abroad in short time.”
Read more via ‘McSalmon, Please!’
“It is very exciting to cooperate with McDonalds and launch such a healthy and delicious product at the fast food chain”, said Arne Hjeltnes, Communication Director in Marine Harvest.
Read more via 'Marine Harvest Salmon off McDonald's Menu'
McDonald’s and the ASC ought to have known better. In 1997,
McDonald's were sued when “four people, including two McDonald's
employees, were hospitalized after eating tainted McLaks salmon burgers
at a restaurant in Lorenskog, located in the outskirts of Oslo.”
McDonald's Norway confirmed that the food poisoning materialized from a
“corrupted” consignment of salmon fillets delivered by the Norwegian
fish firm West Fish, based in Alesund. Separate legal actions against
McDonald's were filed by the four people who claimed they became sick
after consuming McLaks burgers. “At first the McLaks tasted very good,
but after some minutes my mouth and throat became numb, and I
experienced internal spasms,” said Geir Sundberg, one of the four filing
suit against McDonald's.
For more details read ‘McDonald's sued over McSalmon burger sickness’
Advertising Age reported under ‘1997 Ad Follies’:
“In Norway, McDonald's pulled the McLaks salmon burger off the market after four customers were treated for food poisoning. McLaks had been a hit with health-conscious Norwegians, and McDonald's had been considering expanding the product to Sweden and Denmark”
For more background read ‘Eco-Washing McFarmed Fish’
Mmmm – insanitary, filthy farmed salmon with lashings of listeria, sea lice, infectious diseases and tumours anyone?
Dig more deeply, however, and behind the label there is a horror
show. Cooke, the salmon farming giant lurking behind the brand names
above, is currently embroiled in a disease crisis with Infectious Salmon
Anaemia (ISA) spreading in Eastern Canada. Cooke was also charged by Environment Canada last year in relation to the illegal use of toxic chemicals and the deaths of lobsters.
NPR reported (8 December) via that: “The majority of labels scored
less than 10 percent higher than their conventional counterparts. Four
scored exactly the same as the conventional average, and two labels,
Global G.A.P and Marks & Spencer, got negative scores. This means
their sustainability standards set the bar so low that companies doing
more than the average amount of environmental damage could still obtain
an eco-friendly label.”
Read more via ‘Environmental Claims for Farmed Fish Don’t Hold Up To Scrutiny’
In fact, not a single standard (including the WWF’s ‘Salmon Aquaculture Dialogue’ and by extension the ASC’s salmon certification scheme) achieved a ‘green’ rating.
Read the report in full via ‘How Green is Your Eco-Label? A Comparison of the Environmental Benefits of Marine Aquaculture Standards’
Perversely, desperate retailers and supermarket chains are lined up like lemmings rushing headlong to promote farmed salmon as “sustainable” and “responsible”.
For example, Canadian retailer Loblaw pledged last year to sell only “sustainable seafood” by the end of 2013. In promoting Cooke’s farmed salmon, Paul Uys, vice-president of sustainable seafood at Loblaw, blathered like Donald Rumsfeld to The Globe & Mail: “We’re not saying this is the most sustainable; we’re saying this is the most sustainable seafood that we can currently sell.”
Read more via ‘Environmentalists Skeptical of Loblaw’s Boost for Salmon Farming’
Loblaw, as well as other retailers, surely have an impossible job ahead convincing consumers that farmed salmon is sustainable let alone safe and healthy. Just this week The Globe & Mail revealed that farmed salmon bought in supermarkets owned by Loblaw in Vancouver tested positive for a Norwegian disease (Heart & Skeletal Muscle Inflammation).
Loblaw’s spokesman Craig Ware spluttered: “As relates to this virus, this is definitely the first time we’ve heard about it in relation to any of the fish that have been sold in our stores. Obviously, we take any of these kind of concerns seriously. And so we are looking into it with our suppliers.”
When it comes to ‘Abominable Salmon’ it’s clearly a case of caveat emptor (buyer beware)!
Don’t say you haven’t been warned about the Abominable Salmon - coming to a supermarket near your soon!