Two resolutions were passed at the annual Association of Vancouver Island and Coastal Communities last weekend addressing salmon farming.
The first, brought by the City of Victoria, “urges the province to begin the consultation process for a transition from open net-pen salmon farming to safer land-based salmon aquaculture,” said a release.
The second, which was brought forward by the District of Sooke, calls on the province “to protect our wild salmon from the diseases of commercial salmon farms.”
Rocky Boschman, managing director for Grieg Seafoods BC Ltd., is skeptical of land-based salmon aquaculture. The company has eight licences on the Sunshine Coast, two farms in Jervis Inlet and three farms in Sechelt Inlet.
“At this point, it would be hard to imagine how we could successfully complete that life cycle on land and it’s not being done anywhere in the world, let alone B.C.,” Boschman said. “Essentially it would shut down the industry.”
He also noted that land-based practices could require the company to move operations closer to the markets they serve, such as California.
Boschman dismissed claims that there is consensus among researchers that farms harm wild salmon, adding that farmed salmon are vaccinated prior to being introduced from land-based farm hatcheries into the water. “They’re audited by both the provincial and federal governments and third-party certification agencies.”
Last week Washington State banned open net-pen fish farms, making B.C. the only region on North America’s West Coast to allow the practice. The Washington ban follows an accident that occurred last year when high winds caused pens to collapse on a fish farm owned by Cook Aquaculture Pacific, releasing 263,000 Atlantic salmon, some of which were found in waters near Sechelt.
Two weeks ago, 50 B.C. chefs signed a declaration urging the province to decline the renewal of 20 licences that allow fish farms to operate in the Broughton Archipelago.