Mowi Canada West salmon farm. (Mowi photo)

High time to move fish farms on land

There is a strange dynamic at play. If the fish farm industry, like the logging industry, is able to automate, mechanize, or otherwise enable technology to replace human employees, it is done at a stroke.

There may be some crocodile tears but facilities are closed and workers laid off. “Progress and profit demands efficiency,” the company says.

But let a proposal be made to close a logging operation or open net fish farm in order to protect critically low resources – such as in the case of fish farms critically endangered stocks of wild Pacific salmon – then the shoe is on the other foot!

“Think of the workers,” the company cries and efforts are made to count every person who might have the least little contact with the industry in an effort to inflate numbers.

Given the lack of hard data from the fish farm industry, it has been estimated that the closure of the open net fish farms in Discovery Islands may lead to a real loss of 212 direct jobs. The industry claims 1,500 direct and indirect jobs but provides as evidence only constantly changing numbers and statistics.

The fish farm industry has known for years of the very real potential for the closure order. “The Aquaculturists” website printed a letter by the Pacific Salmon Foundation in May 2018 which emphasized the need for transition to closed containment due to the risks to perilously low stocks of wild salmon posed by sea lice and disease associated with open net fish farms. Despite the warnings, local industry has made no such move and local, provincial and federal governments have not pressured the industry to do so even though around the world, closed containment is going forward.

Given the history of this saga, the fish farm industry and local politicians “doth protest too much.” It’s high time to move fish farms onto land.

R. Joanne Banks,

Campbell River

Fish Farms