Aquaculture companies to blame for job loss, not DFO


I have seen lots of stories lately in the Campbell River Mirror criticizing the federal government’s decision to fallow some fish farms in the Brighton Archipelago.

I would suggest that these stories have badly missed the mark. The articles have either taken an obvious bias or lacked the real research needed to get to the real heart of a story which is very disappointing. If people are scared and jobs are at stake, it is not federal fisheries’ decision to close fish farms that is to blame. It is the fish farms for refusing for the last 25 years to operate in a sustainable manner and move operations to the land-based, closed-containment model. This has been recommended consistently and repeatedly for more than 20 years.

1. Auditor General Report (2000)

2. The Leggatt Inquiry into Salmon Farming in BC (2001)

3. Report Of The Standing Committee On Fisheries And Oceans (2003)

4. BC Special Legislative Committee on Sustainable Aquaculture (2005 – 2007)

5. Global Assessment of Closed System Aquaculture (2008)

6. Cohen Commission (2009 – 2012)

They have had 25 years to adapt and change and have steadfastly refused to do so. We can say YES and welcome operations that are sustainable and do not compromise wild salmon stocks, or the health of our oceans, streams, forests or wildlife. We can maintain jobs. A balance can and should be struck. This can be done effectively by moving such operations to land-based, closed-containment operations. There is nothing new in this method of fish farming. It is an established and proven form of aquaculture for many years now. For example:

In Washington State, Domsea Farms has been producing land-based, freshwater coho salmon successfully since 1979 – 37 years. These “SweetSpring” salmon are now available in 124 Overwaitea stores throughout Western Canada.

In Middle Bay on Vancouver Island, AgriMarine Inc. has installed the first of four solid-wall floating tanks for farming chinook and coho salmon.

Also on Vancouver Island, the Toquaht First Nation is planning a 60-hectare land-based aquaculture park with a recirculating tank system that will turn effluent into fertilizer for organic agriculture.

And on Cormorant Island, the Namgis First Nation is developing a closed-tank project that will provide local training and jobs.

Golden Eagle Aquaculture of Agassiz (formerly Swift Aquaculture) is raising Pacific salmon since 2005 in land-based closed-containment operations.

In the Netherlands environmental and social concerns have led to policy and legislation requiring 100 per cent of aquaculture to be CSA, using recirculated water.

It can be done and is clearly being done elsewhere. There are many long standing commercial success stories of land-based, closed containment salmon farms. The fish farms refuse to do so as it is simply more expedient and less expensive to operate in the oceans despite the devasting environmental consequences. This is neither responsible community-minded citizenry nor good corporate stewardship.

If you want a protagonist for your stories, perhaps you should look squarely at the fish farming industry and not the federal government that made the correct and long overdue decision.

Bruce Cutayne, CA CPA

Port Coquitlam, BC

Campbell RiverFish Farms