B.C. commercial fishers argue Canada’s oceans can play an important role in a new and revitalized economy, but only if the first step is to restore their natural productivity. (Black Press file photo)

B.C. commercial fishers argue Canada’s oceans can play an important role in a new and revitalized economy, but only if the first step is to restore their natural productivity. (Black Press file photo)

Build a better blue economy through responsible aqauaculture

Commercial fishers argue for sector’s continued innovation

Dear Editor,

Canada’s oceans can play an important role in a new and revitalized economy, but the first step is unquestionably to restore their productivity. That’s why we are grateful to Fisheries Minister Bernadette Jordan for taking decisive action in December to protect wild B.C. salmon by closing open net-pen salmon farms in the Discovery Islands. Taken together with previous and planned closures in the Broughton Archipelago, the removal of over 30 salmon farms from the migratory routes will substantially improve the outlook for the future of wild salmon and their ecosystems.

Imagine if coastal B.C. had a renewable source of nutritious food and jobs that could sustain and employ thousands, and that all we needed to do was ensure that the natural salt and fresh water environment was restored and maintained in pristine condition. A source of food that would swim out to sea and pasture on naturally available feed, then return right to our doorstep – oh wait, we did have that and we can again! It is quite possible to have both a viable aquaculture industry AND restore wild salmon runs with the associated benefits to both people and the wildlife that used to depend upon these runs.

The open net-pen salmon farming industry struggles for recognition in a new blue economy for good reason. The High Level Panel for a Sustainable Ocean Economy, of which Canada is a charter member, identified the changes needed to provide a future for aquaculture when it issued its ‘Roadmap to a Sustainable Ocean Economy’ last month. Their report found a place for finfish aquaculture if it could “avoid adversely affecting surrounding ecosystems and use fish feed that is not made from wild caught fish.” Those are two goals that salmon aquaculture must achieve in order to be sustainable and viable.

Salmon farming spokespeople have suggested that investment in technology is available to protect wild salmon and their ecosystems and create more jobs. We encourage such new investment and propose it be directed at land-based, closed containment aquaculture that would provide even more jobs, that are better paid and safer, in coastal communities.

The Canadian roadmap to a blue economy should be the Aquaculture Act currently in development at Fisheries and Oceans Canada. That act must require a transition of open net-pens to closed containment. It should also provide incentives for the development of regenerative aquaculture, like oyster, clam, mussel and seaweed farms that improve the environment while producing food. The adoption and development of such sustainable and responsible aquaculture systems represents an opportunity to arrest and reverse the socioeconomic decline in the Indigenous and coastal communities that have not benefited from open net-pen salmon farming.

Aquaculture has a role in addressing the food requirements of a growing global population and can and must be conducted in an environmentally sustainable and socially responsible manner that affords the benefits without the costs. Commercial, Indigenous and recreational fishers have joined with conservation and eco-tourism groups and elected officials representing the political spectrum to endorse Minister Jordan’s leadership in driving the transition to responsible aquaculture in British Columbia.

Dave Boyes and Dane Chauvel

Commercial Fishers

Fisheries and Oceans CanadafishingSalmon farming

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Sicamous will have a new locally-owned option for grabbing a bite on the go as the Snacktastic food trailer opened at the start of March. (Kelly Hesleton/Facebook)
Curbside food trailer gives Sicamous a new dining option

Snacktastic owner Dawn Backs grateful for support from family and community

A B.C. government-run cannabis retail outlet was proposed for a building to be constructed at the Salmon Arm SmartCentres site. (File photo)
Province backs away from plans for Salmon Arm cannabis store

BC Cannabis Store was proposed to be in building to be constructed at shopping centre

COVID-19 numbers provided by Interior Health show Salmon Arm and Revelstoke in the 200-plus range from January 2020 to February 2021 while Vernon, with a larger population, tallied more than 600 over the 14 months. (BC Centre for Disease Control map)
14 months of COVID-19 data show Kamloops cases doubling Vernon’s

Jan. 1, 2020 to Feb. 28, 2021: 605 cases reported for Vernon, 243 for Salmon Arm, 1,246 for Kamloops

A nurse performs a test on a patient at a drive-in COVID-19 clinic in Montreal, on Wednesday, October 21, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
36 new cases of COVID-19, one death in Interior Health

The number of active cases in the region is at 366

Mussel inspection sit set up at B.C.-Alberta border. (Contributed)
Okanagan Basin Water Board calls for stronger invasive mussel protection

Letter sets out six recommendations for environment minister George Heyman to consider

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix and provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry head for the B.C. legislature press theatre to give a daily update on the COVID-19 pandemic, April 6, 2020. (B.C. government)
B.C. nears 300,000 COVID-19 vaccinations, essential workers next

564 new cases, four deaths, no new outbreaks Thursday

The B.C. Supreme Court ruled Feb. 26 that the estate of deceased Sooke man and Hells Angels prospect Michael Widner is to be divided between his wife and his secret spouse. (Black Press Media file photo)
Estate of deceased Vancouver Island Hells Angels prospect to be divided between wife and secret spouse

Michael Widner’s 2017 death left a number of unanswered questions

This Dec. 2, 2020 photo provided by Johnson & Johnson shows vials of its Janssen subsidiary’s COVID-19 vaccine in the United States. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Johnson & Johnson via AP
Canada approves Johnson & Johnson’s 1-shot COVID-19 vaccine

It is the 4th vaccine approved in Canada and the 1st that requires just a single dose

Walter Gretzky father of hockey hall-of-famer Wayne Gretzky waves to fans as the Buffalo Sabres play against the Toronto Maple Leafs during third period NHL hockey action in Toronto on Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Walter Gretzky, father of the Great One, dies at 82

Canada’s hockey dad had battled Parkinson’s disease and other health issues

Riverside Centre includes a theatre hosting local plays, visiting musicians and dance troupes. It is also used for community events such as public meetings and fundraisers. Photo Town of Princeton
Penticton Fire Department pulled a kayaker from Okanagan Lake on Wednesday after he had fallen out of his boat and called 911. The man was taken to the hospital for treatment. (Western News - File)
Kayaker rescued from Okanagan Lake after falling in and calling 911

The Penticton Fire Department’s Marine Rescue pulled him out suffering from severe cold

Kelowna General Hospital (File photo)
Second death reported in Kelowna General Hospital COVID-19 outbreak

A total of seven cases have been identified at the hospital: six patients and one staff

The Greater Vernon Chamber of Commerce’s general manager Dan Proulx, left, hosted a virtual Official Opposition town hall meeting with Shadow Cabinet Minister Small Business Pat Kelly, right, and North Okanagan-Shuswap MP Mel Arnold March 3, 2021. (Screenshot)
Tourism key to business recovery in North Okanagan-Shuswap: MP

Easing travel restrictions, limiting taxation and debt management critical to COVID-19 economic recovery

Thomas Kruger-Allen is expected to be sentenced Friday, March 5, 2021.
Sentencing expected Friday for 2019 Penticton beach attack

Defense wants 12 to 18 months for beach assaults that left one of his victims with brain injury

Most Read