Aquaculture North America

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Calls to switch to land-based farms in BC ‘misguided’

Calls to move salmon farming from open-net pens in the ocean to land-based farms will not only increase the pressure on wild salmon but also kill an entire industry in British Columbia and more than 6,600 jobs, according to the BC Salmon Farmers Association.

The association called the recommendation of the Pacific Salmon Foundation for BC to remove open-net pen fish farms and switch to land-based salmon aquaculture as “premature and misguided.”

BCSFA spokesperson Shawn Hall reiterated what initial findings from research under the ongoing Strategic Salmon Health Initiative have so far shown — that there is “no direct evidence that salmon farms are negatively impacting the health of wild Pacific Salmon.”

“In fact, there is important data regarding the health of wild salmon the research team has yet to make public that we believe is important for the public debate,” says Hall.

Calls for switching salmon aquaculture from open-net pen operations to land-based farms are growing as the renewal period for 22 fish-farm tenures in BC approaches in June. A newly formed environmental group calling itself Wild First has added its voice to this call.

Land-based aquaculture is, however, still in its infancy. The technology has yet to prove itself in growing salmon to maturity, and the costs of building a land-based farm remain prohibitive. “So far no one has succeeded because the costs are so high. The oldest one is in Denmark and it has been bankrupt three times,” Alf-Helge Aarskog, CEO of salmon farming giant Marine Harvest, told the Vancouver Sun in April.