BC Salmon Farmers swimming through ‘misunderstanding’

Salmon farming is one of the more contentious issues in British Columbia, and one of the least understood–that’s the message from a $1.5 million campaign just launched by BC Salmon Farmers.

Salmon farming is one of the more contentious issues in British Columbia, and one of the least understood–that’s the message from a $1.5 million campaign just launched by BC Salmon Farmers.

The television, print and online campaign by DDB Canada aims to change negative perceptions and debunk myths such as “farmed salmon doesn’t taste very good; farmed salmon contains medicines that are harmful for human consumption; and the process of farmed salmon severely depletes fish stocks.”

Mary Ellen Walling, executive director at BC Salmon Farmers, said British Columbians don’t know a lot about the industry and what they do know is usually wrong.

“There seems to be a lot of mystery about fish generally. People aren’t aware that probably 60% of the fish we are eating are coming from a farmed source,” she said. “There is a lot of misunderstanding about the kind of things that we are doing. The questions range from environmental practices to the common misperception that we dye our salmon.”

The campaign’s goal is to lead people to the BCSalmonFacts.ca. There are video clips, articles and a moderated forum where people can post questions. The site is accompanied by a YouTube Channel, Facebook page and Twitter feed.

“It’s really not about selling more salmon in BC, it’s more about making people aware of the value of the industry,” said Cosmo Campbell, creative director at DDB Vancouver. “It’s an area that is so volatile and I think a lot has to do with the history of the province and our love affair with salmon.”

Salmon farming brings $500 million a year into the province and is the largest agricultural industry employing more than 6,000 in B.C. It also can’t meet demand, said Walling.

Campbell adds that this target group of mostly males 40+ likely grew up fishing with their fathers and have watched the decline in fish stock over the years. “They want to point the finger at something and the bad guy is being painted as the salmon farms because they are the only thing that has visibly changed,” he said. “It’s an easy target to bully. The younger generation is a bit more open- minded and understands the value.”

While the print ads are steeped in information, the two television ads take a more humorous approach. In one, two young men are standing around the lunch room at work. One tells the other about a mysterious e-mail he got offering him half of millions of dollars if he can just hand over $10,000 in bank fees. The other tells him he got the same e-mail. “We’re both going to be rich,” he says, before the punch-line is delivered: “Imagine if we believed everything we heard the way we do about farmed salmon.”

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