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Closed pen tests set for September

CANADA - The much-opposed closed containment salmon pens that have been recommended by BC's aquaculture committee, will be under full review commercial observations by September.

A Vancouver Island company plans to be testing the technology on a commercial basis, with the first ocean-based, closed containment salmon tank.

Richard Buchanan, president and chief operating officer of AgriMarine Industries of Campbell River, said the company will put out a contract next month for the construction of a 5,500-cubic-metre aluminum tank that will be situated in Middle Bay, in Campbell River.

"It will be ready to be installed in September," Buchanan said in an interview.

The Committee on Sustainable Aquaculture boldly called for the entire industry to switch to closed containment farming within five years. Currently, B.C. salmon farms use open-net pens, which environmentalists believe contribute to the spread of disease and sea lice, pollution from fish waste, and escapes.

Salmon farmers ripped the committee's report. "Unfortunately, closed-containment isn't there yet,'' said Alistair Haughton of Mainstream Canada, adding that such a move would be a "disaster in the making" for the industry.

"The recommendations aren't realistic. They're not feasible to implement."

The B.C. Salmon Farmers Association said commercial closed-containment technology is not in use anywhere in the world and that pilot projects by government and the industry "have raised significant concerns about fish health and the energy use required to mimic ocean conditions...''

AgriMarine hopes to prove that the technology will work. Its first tank will be designed by Westmar and built in a Lower Mainland fabrication shop.

Source: Times Colonist