Science, emotion and the public interest: Aquaculture in the news
AIMS paper investigates the role of activism on media and public opinion

Halifax – The rapid growth of aquaculture has brought with it increased focus on the industry, by both the media and environmental activists. Widely distributed media stories on the aquaculture industry have alleged loss of native fish species, invasion of non-native species, the use of “harmful” colorants, and dangerous levels of PCBs in farmed salmon.

In a new paper being released by the Atlantic Institute for Market Studies, author Jeff Chatterton examines this media coverage to determine the extent to which these reports reflect reality or are the product of journalists relying too uncritically on advocacy groups for information about aquaculture and its impact.

FRAMING THE FISH FARMERS: The Impact of Activists on Media and Public Opinion about the Aquaculture Industry is the third paper in AIMS’ How to Farm the Seas series.

Mr. Chatterton says that “To achieve long-term business growth in Canada, the aquaculture industry must not allow itself to be a mere target for its adversaries; it must take the initiative by becoming an active and visible source of answers and solutions to legitimate concerns about the industry and its environmental impact.”

He adds, “An important part of that is knowing when and how to respond to critics as problems arise; making industry representatives available to the media on a timely basis; being aware of the nature of the industry’s adversaries; and thinking creatively, not only about how to present the industry favourably but also about how to “counterpunch” against the often spurious agendas of its adversaries.”

Series co-editor, AIMS’ Brian Lee Crowley says, “The aquaculture industry has been the object of many unreasoning attacks, unreasoning in the sense of being quite resistant to any rational consideration of the available scientific evidence. Apparently these attacks will continue no matter what aquaculturists do to become exemplary environmental citizens. If that’s the case, the industry needs to redouble its efforts to ensure that good science on aquaculture is widely available and that aquaculture’s record of constant environmental improvement is better known.”
Jeff Chatterton got his start in risk and crisis communications as a journalist, winning several awards for his coverage of a number of “crisis-oriented” events. He then worked for the Ontario government, handling a wide array of communications challenges in the resources arena — spending time at the Ministries of Natural Resources, Health, Agriculture, and Environment.

Mr. Chatterton is also the author of the online newsletter Defending Good Science, and his work on communicating trust and credibility has appeared in a number of trade publications.

For more information please contact:
Jordi Morgan
Director of Communications and Development
Atlantic Institute for Market Studies
902 446 3532
[email protected]