Committee Calls For Closed-Containment Salmon Farms

The Fish Site
by The Fish Site
17 May 2007, at 1:00am

CANADA - Salmon farms in B.C., including those in Clayoquot Sound, must begin growing fish inside ocean-based closed-containment pens in five years, says a report released by a legislative committee yesterday.

To assist in the transition, the provincial and federal governments must help industry develop closed-containment technology, states the Special Committee on Sustainable Aquaculture. Companies that fail to make the transition must cease operations at the end of five years.

Those recommendations were among 52 proposed by the NDP-led committee. They follow an 18-month inquiry, during which the 10-member committee traveled to 21 communities, collected 814 written submissions, heard testimony from 80 expert witnesses and visited 16 sites.

The transition is necessary, states the committee, to minimize the impact on vulnerable wild salmon stocks and ecosystems.

The recommendations are now headed back to the Liberal government.

Industry representatives and environmentalists, however, remained just as divided after the report as they were before.

“If he [the premier] follows through with these recommendations the industry will start liquidating their assets and move out of the province,” said Spencer Evans, general manager of Tofino’s Creative Salmon Company Ltd.

“Obviously we’re extremely pleased with the recommendation to move to closed containment,” said Dom Repta, an aquaculture campaigner for the Friends of Clayoquot Sound.

The committee defined ocean-based closed-containment systems as “floating barrier technology that ensures no contact between wild and farmed fish, and minimal release of waste into the marine environment.

Farming fish on giant land-based tanks makes little sense, states the committee, because the tanks would require huge amounts of energy to control temperature and water flow.

While yet-to-be developed, the flow-through technology should allow for some exchange of microorganisms and waste between farms and marine environment.

The committee said any technology developed in B.C. can be licensed and sold around the world.

Repta said B.C. can become a world leader in salmon aquaculture, and now the government must get on with implementation.

“Hopefully, it sends a clear message to the Liberals, Gordon Campbell, that we want change.”

He said the industry needs incentives to move on. “We need to start protecting wild salmon. The FOCS are not interested in shutting down the industry. To say we want to close the industry down has no merit.”