For starters, lice thrive in the farm nets and then latch on to wild Pacific salmon in the area. The concentration of fish creates a blanket of poop, which suffocates living creatures at the bottom of the ocean. And if farmed Atlantic salmon (fish farmers' preferred breed) escape their nets, they crowd the Pacific salmon's spawning grounds.
The provincial government lifted a seven-year moratorium on new fish farms in 2002, but environmentalists still fight their use. This spring, a legislative committee called for a ban on current methods. Now, a local firm says it has a solution - potentially welcome relief for British Columbia's $450-million farmed-salmon industry.
AgriMarine Industries' plan is laughably logical:
It's putting giant tanks in the ocean so the fish can't mess with the environment around them. "By building a solid-wall container where you can collect the waste, you address 80 per cent of the issues with the net-cage operations," says Richard Buchanan, president and majority owner of Campbell River, BC-based AgriMarine. "The potential is enormous for this technology."