By transitioning to closed containment farms, B.C. will be able to future-proof the aquaculture industry, while protecting wild salmon.
It is essential that B.C. transitions to sustainable fish farming practices to ensure the longevity of both wild salmon stocks, and the local industry.
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Of course, the system won’t change overnight. But there is a real opportunity here in British Columbia, to not only modernize our aquaculture industry, but to become global leaders in the practice while doing it.
Our plan for a reasonable and collaborative transition:
1. Moratorium on new leases and licenses for open ocean salmon farms.
2. Ensure no PRV-infected smolts are allowed for stocking fish farms.
3. Require a commitment of conversion to closed containment fish farms for all license & lease renewals.
4. Incent conversion of existing open-net pen farms to closed containment operations.
5. Facilitate skills training and industrial assistance to allow current fish farm workers to retrain for sustainable farming practices.
6. Expeditiously remove open ocean fish farm from traditional Indigenous territories where the appropriate Indigenous authority requests removal.
7. Open and transparent audit of farming practices.
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 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.
In fact, the forces of change mean the status quo isn’t even an option. Investors are willing to fund closed containment salmon aquaculture because it’s well-suited to present and future market needs:
- Global demand is increasing rapidly while open ocean global aquaculture is reaching limits and cannot keep up.
- Closed containment salmon farming solves the environmental impact problems caused by current open ocean farming.
The ‘Namgis First Nation was one of the first to recognize the facts and set out to test the feasibility of closed containment 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.