Yesterday, I told you that NDP Fisheries Critic Fin Donnelly has put forward a motion in the legislature to force salmon farmers into closed containment systems. Today’s Vancouver Sun contains an article about a report which argues for the same thing.
In a new report by the SOS Marine Conservation Foundation, author Andrew Wright argues that going to a closed containment or land-based system is not only ecologically sound but profitable. He suggests that the move would also allow growth for the beleaguered industry, which, as he notes, “has no social licence to expand” due to claims that contamination from the farms is causing declines in wild stock.
Wright has also pre-empted claims from the industry that land-based farms are not profitable by pricing out the cost for such farms. Using the assumption that salmon farmers could sell their fish as “ocean-friendly” in high end markets,
He costed out an example of a farm that would cost $12 million to build, $6 million a year to operate and would produce about 1,750 tonnes of salmon a year that could generate $5 million to $13 million in operating profits.
The kicker, Wright said, would come from being able to take fish waste and recycle it as fertilizer and feedstock for hydroponic agricultural production…[read more]
The report was commissioned by the SOS Foundation and funded by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans and B.C. Ministry of Agriculture.
In response, the DFO’s aquaculture directorate’s executive director Trevor Swerdfager noted that his government will not force the move on the industry. Stating that the DFO does not “grow fish,” he argues that it is up to the industry to decide what technology it will use and that the DFO will then regulate that technology.
Mary Ellen Walling, executive director of the B.C. Salmon Farmers Association and author of the article I told you about here, noted that one of their companies is setting up a test farm, but that the move to closed-containment would cause fish to be kept in more cramped conditions than in open pens. The industry, she argues, understands that the technology has its limitations.
The SOS Foundation disagrees and notes that it is going to set up a test farm which complies with the principles of the report.