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BC salmon farm spends $1million on predator nets

by Ellen Hardy
27 November 2007, at 12:00am

CANADA - A British Columbian fish farm that found more than 100 sea lions drowned in its nets last year, has spent more than $1million improving its fish pens and the spacing between layers of nets.

Spencer Evans
Creative Salmon has removed shark guards - a layer of netting designed to stop dogfish -  from the Tofino-based production farm,because this is where sea lions tend to get caught. It is now using stronger material for the nets and is making layers of the net almost rigid by hanging 180-kilogram weights off the sidewalls.

Ideally, the spacing changes mean that the sea lions may not be able to see the penned salmon, said General Manager Spencer Evans. "If we are really lucky, the sea lions might swim right past the farm and not realise what it is."

Canada's Department of Fisheries and Oceans investigated the sea lion deaths, but subsequently decided to issue the company with a formal warning rather prosecution. The incidents prompted a review of the effectiveness of farm procedures for predator protection. It also bolstered conservationist campaigns to ban and/or farmed salmon production in the province.

BC's Federal Committee on Sustainable Aquaculture's has also reccommended for the entire industry to switch to closed containment systems within five years. The actions have been vehemently opposed by industry, who say it will add substantial costs, destroy BC's $multi-million salmon sector and decimate the livelihoods of coastal communities and many first nations businesses

Currently, BC salmon farms use open-net pens, which environmentalists believe contribute to the spread of disease and sea lice, pollution from fish waste, and escapes.

Further Reading

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Ellen Hardy