This week's picks from the world press

Cargill says will help boost sales of tra fish in the USA

Hey Kirk, no proof farms hurting wild salmon

French oyster business faces fresh plague crisis
June 17, 2010

Cargill says will help boost sales of tra fish in the USA

Cargill Vietnam said  it would be willing to promote the sale of Vietnam’s tra fish in the U.S. using the group's extensive network in the U.S.

The group’s Vice President for Corporate Affairs in the Asia-Pacific region, Bruce W. Blakeman is reported to have said Cargill would find ways to allow tra fish to penetrate the U.S. more easily. He said he would raise the proposal at a meeting in Hanoi with the ministries of Trade and Industry, Finance, and Agriculture.

Cargill could guarantee the quality of Vietnam’s tra fish fillets, and given the group’s distribution network and its prestige, Cargill could help open the market wider for the Vietnamese produce.

Blakeman is in Vietnam to address several issues relating to Cargill investments in Vietnam, including new regulations on labeling for genetically-modified products in the country, pricing regulations, as well as the introduction of more Cargill products on the Vietnamese market. Cargill also seeks permission for launching its commercial activity in Vietnam, including the distribution of such products as steel, flavoring products and additives for animal feed production.

Chanh Truong, board chairman of Cargill Vietnam and chief representative of Cargill International Trading Pte., said Cargill was willing to help in exchange for local authorities’ support to launch more Cargill products in Vietnam. Cargill first established its presence in Vietnam in 1995, and has since opened six animal fee processing plants in the country with combined output of 720,000 tons a year.
[Read the complete story at VietNamNet Bridge].

Hey Kirk, no proof farms hurting wild salmon

The news that William Shatner of Capt. Kirk fame is boosting the NDP-backed battle to torpedo our fish-farm industry is weird, but not entirely from another universe. After all, there is nothing an impassioned movie actor loves more than a cause . . . and the applause that goes with it.

The 79-year-old Shatner said in a conference call last week his "rage" was directed against companies that act without conscience and care only about the bottom line. But in the real world, there is no proof that B.C. farmed salmon, the supposed villain of this torrid West-Coast drama, are killing off wild salmon or even causing them extraordinary distress.

There is research by marine biologist Alexandra Morton suggesting this might be so. And she is backed by union supporters, eco-campaigners and members of special-interest groups who'd love to kill off competition in the B.C. and Alaska salmon market. But the fact is that experts appear heavily divided over whether fish farms, stocked with Atlantic salmon, really are responsible for putting wild Pacific salmon at risk through the widespread transfer of potentially deadly sea lice.

Former fish-farm consultant Vivian Krause, for example, has written a report strongly critical of Morton's research and that of other activist scientists. "They excluded all the data that didn't fit their hypothesis in order to manufacture something that substantiates their marketing campaign," she said.

Krause, who has a master's degree in nutrition, told me Saturday that Shatner has allowed himself to be badly misled.

"He should consider that salmon farming avoids overfishing which is, after all, the worst risk to wild salmon," she said. "You want to save wild salmon, Billy Boy? Eat farmed."

Moreover, Mark Sheppard, our province's leading aquatic veterinarian, told a federal fisheries committee in April that the presence of lice on farmed salmon in B.C. is low compared with other countries and regions, and isn't a growing problem. "In general, the lice abundance on both farmed salmon and wild fry have actually declined for five consecutive years," he said.

But last month federal NDP fisheries critic Fin Donnelly introduced a private member's bill to force our salmon-farming industry to switch to so-called closed-containment on land.

This, of course, would effectively drive the industry into the ground. For one thing, the capital costs of the land-based pens would be prohibitive. Also, they'd almost certainly be less humane for the fish.

Now, I'm the first to acknowledge that farming salmon is far from ecologically pure. But neither is commercial fishing. So we should be sure we know all the facts before we regulate a profitable aquaculture business to death and put thousands more folks on the dole.

We should also be careful about caving in once more to the insatiable demands of rabid eco-groups, many of them funded by elite American foundations.

Too often, their sky-is-falling appeals and selective use of "science" hoodwinks the public and leads to poor government decisions.

My advice to the Canadian-born Shatner, meanwhile, is to control his rage -- or at least redirect it toward the money-grubbing lice and other parasites in Hollywood.

[Read the complete story at The Province]

French oyster business faces fresh plague crisis

French oyster-growers are facing ruin because of a viral epidemic that for a third year in a row has been wiping out millions of baby shellfish.

In 2008 and 2009, the industry was ravaged by the same epidemic, with many farms losing 80-100% of their stocks of naissains - first-year spats. Because it takes three years to grow a commercially viable oyster, so far the economic impact of the crisis has been limited. But now all pre-2008 production has been depleted, so major shortages are predicted next winter when demand peaks around Christmas and New Year. In France that is when some 90% of oysters are sold.

40% of the country's 4,800 mainly family-run businesses could be forced to closed. The state marine research agency (Ifremer) said it is "one of the worst crises in the history of French oyster-farming".

Raised sea temperatures have been blamed as providing conditions for the strain of herpes virus, designated OsHV-1, which is often accompanied by a bacterium called Vibrio splendidus.

Fingers are pointing at the hatcheries, some 80% of which are triploid sterile oysters that have been specially developed for the market. At Ifremer, scientists say that triploid oysters cannot alone explain the spread of the virus because they have not been noticeably worse hit than diploids. They also point out that many of those complaning about hatcheries today were the first to urge their creation in order to boost production. However, they concede that intensive farming methods may be a factor in the current crisis.

[Read full article at BBC News]