Once known for running on the beach in a small red bathing suit, Pamela Anderson is taking on a new ocean-related role.

The B.C. actress-turned-activist was in Vancouver on Monday to talk about why she says consumers should choose wild salmon over farmed fish.

Together with environmental advocate David Suzuki, Anderson joined the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society in trying to raise awareness of the presence of a virus in farmed salmon.

"I learned about the fish farms and how devastating they are," Anderson told reporters on Monday.

"Even my mother said, 'By eating farmed salmon, aren't I helping wild salmon?' That's a misconception."

Anderson, who has previously partnered with the People for Ethical Treatment of Animals and other animal rights and environmental groups, said she wanted to get involved to bring awareness to the issue.

She published a video that takes aim at the industry, which generates more than $1 billion each year for the province.

"The consumer has the power to help and not purchase farmed salmon," Anderson said.

In addition to the video, she kicked off a Sea Shepherd campaign to visit fish farms, conducting what the group calls "non-aggressive" and "non-harassing" audits looking for disease.

"Salmon farms keep pens in the ocean, where the fish swim in their own feces, and breed disease and sea lice that kill wild salmon, threatening the orcas' ability to feed," Anderson said in a statement from Sea Shepherd.

The group is known for ramming into whaling ships on the high seas, but this time it's promising a scientific approach with "Operation Virus Hunter." 

But the B.C. Salmon Farmer's Association (BCSFA), which represents farmers and other members of the industry, said it was "disappointed" in the celebrity-endorsed audit campaign.

"We're disappointed that this latest publicity stunt is attempting to paint a misleading picture of an industry that provides a healthy, sustainable product that feeds millions of people," executive director Jeremy Dunn said in a statement.

He said that farmers are already subjected to study from the Pacific Salmon Foundation, Department of Fisheries and Oceans, the University of British Columbia and other members of the Strategic Salmon Health Initiative.

Recently, scientists with the federal government revealed they'd found a potential case of heart and muscle disease in farmed Atlantic salmon. They're still studying what impact the disease might have on wild salmon, if it spreads from the farmed fish.

"We are relying on this team to ensure advocacy and research do not get confused," Dunn said.

Local salmon farmers regularly participate in research, and all farms must be certified by third-party environmental and food safety standards. The fish are examined daily and "thousands" of tests are done each year to determine the health of farmed fish, the statement said.

According to the BCSFA, 58 per cent of all salmon raised in Canada is from B.C, and the fish are the province's largest food export.

The industry supports thousands of jobs, the BCSFA said, and prevents wild stocks from being depleted.

With a report from CTV Vancouver's Mi-Jung Lee