Saving salmon in the Northwest
A tale of fish and farms …
It’s harvest time, that season made memorable by piles of autumn leaves, bushels of colorful apples, kids racing through pumpkin patches, and spawning salmon.
OK, spawning salmon may not be top-of-mind mind. But there is an inextricable relationship between all things aquatic (like fish), and all things agrarian (like farms). Both need clean water, and committed people to make certain they have that clean water.
Agricultural practices, particularly those that use harmful chemicals for pest control or contribute to soil erosion, threaten water quality. Fortunately, on dozens of Northwest farms, where such practices have been a problem, programs such as Salmon-Safe have been a solution.
Safe for salmon … and more
Salmon-Safe is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the restoration of urban and agricultural watersheds so that salmon can spawn and thrive.
Under Salmon-Safe’s voluntary certification program, farm and vineyard operations are examined by independent third party inspectors with salmon habitat and sustainable agriculture experience to determine if their agricultural practices are safe for wildlife.
“Fish-friendly” farms and vineyards have the right to display the Salmon-Safe label on their products. This “eco-label” stands out from many that have emerged over recent years, as savvy companies try to cash in on the green movement. It has earned industry and consumer trust, so much so that Vanity Fair magazine recognized it as a “Most reliable” eco-label in its second annual “Green Issue” (May 2007) … the only regional label on their list.
“ 'Salmon-Safe' means products were created using healthy farming practices that keep Pacific Northwest waterways clean enough for wild salmon to thrive. ”
Why single out salmon? Of all native species, many consider wild salmon to be among the most essential to preserving the ecosystem that is the Pacific Northwest. Threats to the rhythm of the salmon’s life cycle are threats to the health of ours. Salmon are our region’s poster child for environmental health; the Salmon-Safe label is assurance that the sacred relationship between food production and the preservation of all wildlife has been honored.
PCC and Salmon-Safe
The Salmon-Safe certification program originated in Oregon and was introduced in Washington state four years ago, through a partnership of Stewardship Partners and Salmon-Safe.
PCC Natural Markets was proud to become the first Washington state retailer to support and promote it. The independent PCC Farmland Trust, dedicated to the preservation of Northwest organic farmland, also supports the program; all four farms under its protection are certified Salmon-Safe. Dozens of other farms are also Salmon-Safe, including Whatcom County’s Fresh Breeze Organic Dairy (PCC sells their milk) and King County’s Full Circle Farm and Snohomish County’s Rent’s Due Ranch (produce suppliers to PCC).
Label yourself a Salmon-Safe consumer
There’s a lot you can do to help protect salmon and other Pacific Northwest wildlife. Start by looking for the Salmon-Safe label while shopping at PCC and local farmers markets, and by buying sustainably caught seafood from reputable sources.
Volunteer for habitat restoration projects and make certain your garden and lawn practices are salmon-friendly. (Check out the Natural Garden Hotline at 206-633-0224). Take steps to conserve your water usage (find great tips at Saving Water Partnership) and prevent water pollution from your household (see how at Washington Toxics Coalition).
Got other ideas? Please share them.