Canadian aquaculture bodies slam government's plan for closed containment salmons

Canada's aquaculture organisations have slammed its government's commitment to move all salmon production in British Columbia to "closed containment by 2025" as an "irresponsible" action, a September 30 joint statement stated.

Many industry bodies oppose the move including the Canadian Aquaculture Industry Alliance, BC Salmon Farmers Association and Ontario Aquaculture Association. The Canadian government's implementation of its plan could threaten jobs and even the environment, the organisations claimed.

"This is a reckless policy, not grounded in science, and it will threaten good middle-class jobs across Canada," said Timothy Kennedy, president and CEO of the Canadian Aquaculture Industry Alliance.

The joint statement described salmon farming as "the most environmentally sustainable large-scale farmed animal production in the world," as well as "a solution to climate change."

"British Columbia farm-raised salmon production has been recognised as being a global top sustainable performer: the Monterey Bay Aquarium's "Seafood Watch" recognised the provincial production as "a good alternative" last year, the first region so recognised in the world, and the FAIRR Global Index lists BC salmon producers as the top sustainable global producers of animal protein," the statement added.

Thus, British Columbia salmon farming could significantly support the rising global demand "for low impact, lowcarbon emissions, high-protein food supply while alleviating pressure on threatened wild fish stocks."

The statement noted: "Seafood farming provides 26,000 full-time jobs across Canada. It generates $5.4 billion in economic activity in Canada. Salmon farming makes up close to 90% of this economic value. This is a young, highly innovative sector that is providing full-time jobs across Canada where these jobs are needed most: in indigenous, remote, and coastal communities."

The organisations also acknowledged the global trend of growing salmons in closed containment. However, starting a pilot project for closed containment salmons requires partnership and cannot happen with "any artificial mandates and timelines," they declared.

"No other nation has proposed this requirement of their salmon production. If implemented, this requirement will only move local, top-quality production to other countries that may not have the high environmental standards Canada already employs," the statement said.

"While we are already a top global performer, our sector is committed to constant improvement. Our farmers need support and confidence to continue to invest in Canada. [The government's] irresponsible policy platform seriously undermines this confidence," Kennedy commented.

- Canadian Aquaculture Industry Alliance