Aquaculture for all

Closed Fish Farms Controlled By Government

Economics Education & academia +2 more

CANADA - In the new year, the federal government will assume control over all sea-based aquaculture operations, including fish farms.

According to the Campbell River Mirror, the changeover was ordered by the British Columbian (BC) Supreme Court, which ruled that fish farms are a federal responsibility.

Currently, the provincial government oversees the siting, licensing and monitoring of fish farms which typically raise non-native Atlantic salmon in open-net sea pens.

Critics and some scientists say fish farms contribute to the proliferation of sea lice which harm, or kill, young migrating wild salmon. They are also critical of fish farm escapements, the drugs used to treat farm salmon and the possible spread of infectious disease from farms to wild fish, to name a few of the many complaints.

Almost all the BC fish farms are run by Norwegian-based companies – Marine Harvest, Grieg and Cermaq (Mainstream) – which have Canadian offices in Campbell River. Fish farming proponents say these companies operate a billion-dollar industry in BC which provide jobs and tax money, and they do their best to mitigate environmental issues.

However, for many years these companies have faced pressure from opponents to change open-net sea pens into closed containment systems. The companies have conducted tests, but say closed-containment is too expensive and is not economical at this time.

“If the industry is going to operate in our territory, they must be in closed containment,” said Bob Chamberlin, chief of the Kwicksutaineuk/Ah-kwa-mish First Nation, one of the industry’s harshest critics.

He attended the meetings – revolving around the Federal BC Aquaculture Regulation and Strategic Action Plan Initiative discussion document – and urged the government to force fish farm companies to change to close containment systems.

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