Glenn Cooke: Industry must unify to combat environmentalists’ unscientific claims

Cooke Inc. CEO Glenn Cooke

The head of one of Canada's biggest seafood companies believes the fishing and aquaculture sectors need to work together to push back against unscientific claims made by environmental groups.

Speaking at the Responsible Seafood Summit in Saint John, New Brunswick, Canada, Cooke Inc. CEO Glenn Cooke said 

“We’ve got to work together because we now have the same common enemy,” Cooke said. “These environmental groups now have turned very strongly against wild fishing, so now the same groups that are hitting the farming are hitting a lot of fishing. The sooner we can coalesce into a major, stronger force to take them on, the better in my mind.”

Cooke singled out gear supplier outdoor clothing retailer Patagonia, which has dedicated significant resources to fighting salmon farming, for turning governments against the industry.

“You get these big organizations like Patagonia that end up driving governments like in Chile,” Cooke said. “They obviously fund a lot of campaigns.”

In order to counter misleading narratives that are hurting the seafood industry at large, both the aquaculture and fishing sectors need to work together, he said.

“As an industry, whether it’s aquaculture or it’s fishing, we have to be very vigilant to get our message out there,” Cooke said.

Cooke also decried the impact of social media, where anyone can make and spread unscientific claims.

“The problem is we live in a day and age [when] science doesn’t mean a lot,” Cooke said. “Basically, [social media] gives everyone a platform and a voice to the point where science doesn’t matter, and that’s a shame.”

Cooke called the move by Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) to limit or eliminate net-pen salmon farming in British Columbia “horrendous.”

“We were kicked out of Washington state in a similar style,” Cooke said, blaming “environmentalists stirring up non-truths, not using science, not showing science" for the company's loss of its net-pen permits in the U.S. state, which was precipitated by an escape from one of its farms of more than 300,000 Atlantic salmon.

Photo courtesy of Cliff White/SeafoodSource


Want seafood news sent to your inbox?

You may unsubscribe from our mailing list at any time. Diversified Communications | 121 Free Street, Portland, ME 04101 | +1 207-842-5500