Wednesday, December 14, 2016

14/12/2016: Open net fish farming business to continue in BC, Canada

The BC Salmon Farmers Association is applauding the sound defeat of a federal NDP private members' bill to shut down the open net fish farming business in B.C., but not everybody's happy about it.

The bill, authored by Lower Mainland MP Finn Donnelly, calling for a transition to land based, closed contained technology, was shot down on Tuesday in a vote of 215 to 80.

Salmon Farmers Association executive director Jeremy Dunn says the vote sends a strong message.
Image: NOAA's National Ocean Service

“Reaffirms the Government of Canada and previous Government recognising that Canada's future is in responsible, sustainable aquaculture, which includes marine aquaculture,” said Mr Dunn.

He says slamming the door on marine aquaculture is short-sighted, noting demand for farmed salmon globally grows by six to seven per cent every year.

Mr Dunn points out that Canada produces two to three per cent of the world's supply of farmed salmon annually.

He says salmon farming in B.C. is worth over $1-billion to the provincial economy annually, as well as 5,000 jobs.

“In fact, with 20 agreements with First Nations on the coast, 78 per cent of that harvest is returning benefits on an annual basis to First Nations and their communities.”

Mr Dunn notes salmon farming and the forestry industry are “neck-and-neck” at any given time in terms of the largest private sector employer on B.C.'s South Coast.

Meantime, Nanaimo-Ladysmith New Democrat MP Sheila Malcolmson is disappointed the bill was shot-down, pointing out that that most Liberals were opposed.

“I'm really surprised because they (Liberals) campaigned on a progressive platform, an innovation platform and they campaigned to stand up for wild salmon,” said Malcolmson.

“I don't understand the logic in not voting for our bill.” Malcolmson says while aquaculture takes pressure off wild salmon stocks, she says there is strong evidence that traditional salmon farming hurts the health of wild salmon.

She says “way more people” are employed in the wild salmon industry in B.C., which she says generates more for our economy, compared to open net fish farming.

Mr Dunn says closed-contained technology, while a small part of the market, is a growing part of the aquaculture industry.

He says there are about 70 land-based operations in B.C., but that only a “handful” are fully operational. Mr Dunn says land-based, closed contained businesses are typically smaller outfits that fill niche markets.

He says fish farming giant Marine Harvest is currently investing $40-million to expand its closed contained infrastructure in Sayward on the north island. Closed-contained, landed based operations, while an important piece of the fish-farming puzzle, supplied only a small fraction of the 76,000 metric tons of farmed salmon produced in B.C. last year, according to Mr Dunn.

“Every single fish that ends its life in the marine environment starts in a closed containment system on land and that will continue in the future,” said Mr Dunn.

Read more HERE.

The Aquaculturists
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