It is our duty to reduce the risk that open-net pet farms pose to wild salmon. Fortunately, there is an alternative to how salmon are currently farmed off of British Columbia’s coast.
Investing in land-based closed containment farms will create new jobs and protect wild salmon. And British Columbia is uniquely positioned to lead future-proofing of the aquaculture industry through a transition to land-based closed containment facilities. We have a highly skilled labour force, the necessary support infrastructure, abundant and accessible supplies of fresh and salt water, reasonable land values in the Comox-Strathcona region, and close proximity to markets and transportation infrastructure.
British Columbia has the opportunity to be a first-mover and reap all the benefits of closed containment aquaculture innovation.
Our plan for a reasonable and collaborative transition includes:
- A moratorium on new tenures and licenses for open net-pen salmon farms.
- Existing open net pen salmon farms sited on Indigenous traditional territory should be expeditiously removed when the appropriate Indigenous authority has requested removal.
- Incent conversion of existing open-net pen farms to closed containment operations.
- Facilitate skills training and industrial assistance to allow current fish farm workers to retrain for sustainable farming practices.
- Open and transparent audit of farming practices.
We know that we can’t change overnight. But, we recognize that there is a real opportunity for British Columbia to modernize our aquaculture industry and become a global leader in the practice of sustainable land-based farming. We don’t need to reinvent the wheel, we can learn from and work with leading nations, like Norway, Sweden, the U.S., Scotland, and Switzerland in the active development of sustainable, responsible and economically viable alternatives to open net-pen salmon farm.
In fact, the forces of change mean the status quo isn’t even an option. Investors are willing to fund land-based salmon aquaculture because it’s well-suited to present and future market needs:
- Global demand is increasing rapidly while ocean-based global aquaculture is reaching limits and cannot keep up.
- Land-based salmon farming solves all the environmental impact problems caused by current open net-pen farming.
- Land-based salmon farming has the potential to achieve more operational certainty with less business risk than ocean-based salmon farming, which is subject to environmental conditions.
The ‘Namgis First Nation was one of the first to recognize the facts and set out to test the feasibility of land-based farming as a sustainable alternative. They launched Kuterra – a pilot scale venture to grow Atlantic salmon on land – and they have been successfully growing and selling quality salmon at a premium market price for over three years.
All industries have to evolve and while change is inevitable, we do have a choice – to embrace, manage and benefit from change, or to have change imposed upon us, with the potential result of being shut out of the new opportunity.