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No Funding For Closed-Containment Pilot Project

by 5m Editor
10 December 2009, at 12:00am

CANADA - Marine Harvest Canada (MHC) says neither Ottawa nor Victoria have come through with funding for a closed-containment pilot project, but both the federal and provincial governments say they have not been asked.

The issue came up last week when Marine Harvest Canada managing director Vincent Erenst was asked about closed containment during a presentation to city council, reports the Courier-Islander.

"The problem is really to scale up these type of facilities to a level where they become cost efficient for growing market-sized fish," Mr Erenst told city councillors. "We want to build a small pilot project where we would like to try out this technology for growing market-sized fish and to see if we can reach production costs that are in line with the prices in the market.

"We have asked both the federal government and provincial government in this, basically saying this is R&D (research & development). We do not know what the outcome will be. We do not know if this will lead to a sustainable and financially feasible solution. So far we've not been able to convince either the feds or the province to support us in this.

So far, we have been trying to get some help in the order of 30 to 40 per cent of our investment, and we have not succeeded.

We are definitely willing to do a trial. We have it basically designed. We are ready."

In a further statement to the Courier-Islander earlier this week, the company said it was collaborating with the Coastal Alliance for Aquaculture Reform (CAAR) on an economic study and efforts to secure support and funding for the research from private and public sources. The company said that after a $1.3 million 2001/2002 pilot project found production costs to be too costly, MHC proposed a new closed system in the fall of 2008, utilising state-of-the-art technology to produce at least 400 tonnes of fish at a cost of several million dollars.

"This is research and development and has a high element of risk," the company stated. "Many similar 'highly intensive' fish culture systems have had a high failure rate. Because of this risk and R&D element, MHC has approached both federal and provincial governments to fund 40 per cent of this R&D proposal."

But both senior governments told a different story this week.

"In dialogue with Marine Harvest Canada, the Province has reiterated its support for evaluation of new technologies such as closed containment to determine if they are viable ways of growing fish," the BC Ministry of Agriculture told the Courier-Islander on Monday. "To date there has been no formal request for funding by Marine Harvest Canada for a closed-containment project.

"Despite tight budgets and the difficult economic climate, the Province and the federal government have contributed to a collaborative closed containment feasibility assessment study being undertaken by the Save Our Salmon organisation.

"We have also supported processes such as the Canadian Science Advisory Secretariat review, which summarised the state of knowledge on closed containment."

The federal government, through Fisheries and Oceans Canada, had a similar response.

"We have had some preliminary discussions about potential closed containment pilot projects with Marine Harvest and others, but we've never received a formal application or proposal under the Innovation Program or other funding envelopes for such a thing," Andrew Thomson, DFO's Pacific Region director of aquaculture management, told the Courier-Islander yesterday.

5m Editor