The Salmon Safe label

This article was originally published in September 2004

(September 2004) — Ask the people around you what farmers have to do with sustainable seafood and chances are they won’t get the connection right away, if at all.

Yet the methods farmers use and don’t use make a pivotal difference to the health of Washington’s rivers, streams and salmon runs. Salmon need a clean, cool river to reproduce and thrive. Runoff from agriculture and erosion brings silt into rivers.

Silt covers the stream’s gravel where salmon eggs hide for survival. If this protective habitat is damaged, the unhatched salmon and babies can’t survive the dangers around them.

According to U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Wastewater Management Director Michael Cook, “[Non-organic] farming is responsible for 70 percent of waterway pollution, outstripping sewage treatment plants and pollution deposited from the air.”

Look for the label
There’s a new eco-label from Oregon that’s starting to appear on Washington produce grown safe for salmon. The label is coming from an organization based in Portland, Ore., called Salmon Safe, a nonprofit devoted to restoring agricultural and urban watersheds so salmon can spawn and thrive. In addition to requiring the use of natural methods to control weeds and pests, the Salmon Safe guidelines promote planting trees and cover crops, and improving irrigation.

Salmon Safe is collaborating with the Seattle-based Stewardship Partners, an organization that helps landowners preserve the environment. At first the Salmon Safe certification and eco-label program will focus on the lower Snoqualmie Valley, just east of Seattle. American Rivers, a national environmental organization, designated the Snoqualmie as one of America’s “10 most endangered rivers” in 2001, due to increased urban development along its banks.

Salmon Safe is a voluntary certification, and because it’s just getting underway in Washington, not all of PCC’s local farmers know about it yet. When you start seeing the Salmon Safe sticker, it means the farmers who grew that food are committed to restoring any salmon waterways running through their farmland.

Salmon Safe certified its first four Washington farms in the lower Snoqualmie Valley in June 2004. Full Circle Farm in Carnation, Wash., is the first PCC vendor to be among those now certified organic and certified Salmon Safe.

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