Political recommendations will stifle BC Salmon Sector

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

CANADA - NDP members of the governments Special Committee on Sustainable Aquaculture are ignoring input from coastal communities, First Nations and the aquaculture industry in their recommendations on the future of salmon farming in British Columbia.

The BC Salmon Farmers Association has learned that the NDP will present recommendations that will include a call for the $700 million a year salmon farming industry to move it's commercial operations onto closed containment systems within three years.

Closed containment has been a long time goal for environmental groups, yet the technology is unproven commercially. Opponenets of the system say it will significantly increase greenhouse gas emissions, and is not used anywhere in the world to grow salmon.

“The NDP recommendations do not reflect the many, many technical and scientific presentations made to the Committee; what they do reflect is the agenda of environmental activists and the NDP election platform two years ago,” said Mary Ellen Walling, executive director, BCSFA. “The recommendations are technically unfeasible, economically unviable and environmentally questionable. Why use taxpayers’ money to hold public hearings when the NDP clearly was uninterested in hearing from technical experts and industry personnel.”

Other concerns include the NDP call for a moratorium on new salmon farm licenses north of Cape Caution, regardless of the interests of the Gitxaala First Nations. It would establish salmon farms within the thier traditional territory. Under the NDP recommendations, any expansion plans from existing farms operated within the traditional territory of the Kitasoo First Nation will require negotiations and the consent of other First Nations from outside of the Kitasoo area.

“The NDP are slamming the door in the face of our people,” says Chief White, of the Gitxaala First Nation. “We believe aquaculture creates a sustainable economy that will allow our people to build meaningful jobs and careers in our traditional home. If these recommendations are made the actions of the NDP members of the Special Committee are unacceptable.”

Another recommendation will call for all fish meal and fish oil used in feed to be approved by the UK-based Marine Stewardship Council (MSC). BC aquaculture feed companies already source their fish-derived ingrefrom sustainable sources and BCSFA see no reason for the MSC endorsement.

This also has implications for the entire agriculture sector because fish meal is also used in livestock diets. The recommendation does not recognise British Columbia as a world leader in reducing fish meal and fish oil in aquaculture feed.

Salmon farming is British Columbia’s largest agricultural export, generating more than $450 million annual revenue. Approximately 80 per cent of BC's farmed salmon is exported and market is expanding.