Salmon federation pushes land-based farms
14 Mar 2013 08:21AM
FREDERICTON – The head of the Atlantic Salmon Federation is disappointed Ottawa has not responded favourably to a Parliamentary committee report that urges the development of more land-based fish farming.
Bill Taylor said Wednesday the only official comment so far has come from federal ACOA Minister Gail Shea, a former fisheries minister, who dismissed the recommendation for more closed-containment aquaculture as not viable at this time.
“It was very disappointing,” Taylor, president of the salmon conservation organization, said in an interview.
“It would have been nice to see a little more understanding on her part. The standing committee is an unbiased, all-party committee that has spent many months reviewing all of the up-to-date information on land-based, closed containment. It heard from all of the experts in the field, both proponents and critics.”
The committee wants the federal government to fund projects that would help Canada’s aquaculture industry farm more salmon, but in tanks that don’t interfere with wild stocks.
The recommendation on closed-containment salmon aquaculture was one of several delivered last week by members of the House of Commons’ standing committee on fisheries and oceans, which agreed to study the issue in October 2011.
Fisheries Minister Keith Ashfield’s office said in a statement that he is reviewing the committee report.
The DFO statement says the department is encouraging innovation to improve the sustainability of aquaculture.
“To date, Fisheries and Oceans Canada has contributed more than $4.5 million dollars in direct contributions towards the development of a wide range of closed-containment technologies and projects,” the department release states.
“These include innovative waste collectors, filters, and re-circulating systems for the production of a variety of fish species.”
Shea said Sunday during a teleconference from the Boston Seafood Show that there have been a number of research projects already to test the viability of closed containment.
“The numbers just don’t add up,” Shea said.
“At this point in time, the technology does not exist to be able to do this type of farming viably.”
Her comments were supported by two representatives of Atlantic aquaculture firms who said closed-containment fish farming is neither economic nor environmentally safe.
But Taylor disputed that viewpoint, saying land-based fish farming is on the rise across North American and Europe because it can save money and reduce the environmental risks of open-net farming in the ocean. Taylor said there are many benefits for land-based fish farmers.
“They control the environment; they control what pathogens get in or get out; they can protect their fish from disease,” he said.
“They can get their product to market much faster because it takes about half the time to raise an Atlantic salmon to market size in a land-based, closed-containment system versus an open-net pen.”