NWAA fires back at Patagonia’s anti net-pen aquaculture video

Published on
October 27, 2020

The Northwest Aquaculture Alliance (NWAA) has pushed back against a video by clothing company Patagonia titled “Take Back Puget Sound,” which focuses on net-pen aquaculture.

The new video focuses specially on Washington state, and opens with footage of a net-pen collapse suffered by Cooke Aquaculture, with speakers involved calling net-pen aquaculture “a dirty industry.”

It isn’t the first time that the clothing company has attacked aquaculture – a documentary released in April 2019 titled “Artifishal” also took shots at the industry. In an interview with SeafoodSource, Artifishal producer and Patagonia’s fly-fishing ambassador Dylan Tomine said the company does not support most forms of aquaculture.

In response to the latest video on net-pen aquaculture, the NWAA has called on Patagonia to “examine the motives” of the company’s NGO partner, the Wild Fish Conservancy (WFC).

“We challenge Patagonia to examine the motives of its anti-aquaculture NGO partner – whose defamatory statements about aquaculture have little or no scientific merit and whose supposed ‘advocacy’ on behalf of wild salmon has produced few tangible results while generating millions of dollars for the NGO through numerous frivolous legal actions,” the NWAA stated in a press release.

The NWAA also pointed out that Patagonia has its own share of environmental issues to contend with, namely the company’s own admission that “has a microplastics problem.”

“We respectfully suggest that Patagonia consider the old proverb, ‘People who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones,’ and cease and desist in the airing of the poorly researched WFC video attack on marine aquaculture,” NWAA said.

Tomine said that the company is unlikely to support any net-pen aquaculture as it exists.

“We are firmly against open-water net-pen salmon farms. They’re breeding grounds for disease, which can and does spread to wild salmon. The negative impact they have on the marine environment is pretty clear,” he said in 2019. “If there were some way to miraculously control sea lice without the use of pesticides or pharmaceuticals, and if there was some was to better mitigate the huge amounts of fecal waste these farms create, we would consider [changing our position]. But those problems are not things that are solvable to a large extent right now.”

For its part, NWAA is asking Patagonia to “listen to the advice of one of its own experts.”

“We challenge Patagonia to listen to the advice of one of its own experts, Ocean Wise Seafood, which is recommending several wild and farmed species produced by the company it defames in its WFC-partnered video, Cooke Aquaculture, as meeting the rigorous Ocean Wise standards,” the NWAA wrote. “As we see it, this video illustrates nothing more than virtue-signaling by Patagonia that has admitted to more environmental and labor issues/problems that any of our aquaculture members have caused.”

The NWAA also urged Patagonia to examine its partnership with the WFC.

“We urge Patagonia to take a look at the consequences, intended or otherwise, of its partnering with an NGO whose mission has always been to shut down hatcheries, fish (and shellfish) farming, and eventually, commercial fishing – regardless of the cost to the people who benefit from aquaculture and fisheries jobs,” the NWAA said. “One such consequence will be to slam the door shut to opportunities for Tribes and indigenous people to benefit from the knowledge of global leaders such as Cooke and others.”   

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