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Anti-aquaculture campaign a fallacy - Lost capacity down to ecomonics

16 May 2007

CANADA - There is no moratorium on salmon farms in BC, writes Jennifer Lash of the Living Oceans Society and the Coastal Alliance for Aquaculture Reform. Her comments are in response to a recently published article by Dan Miller, British Columbia's former premier: Let's Keep Options Open.

She says that any moratorium was lifted in 2001 when the Campbell government was first elected and the salmon farming industry has not grown as quickly as it would like.

The reason is because the scientific evidence, combined with First Nations and stakeholder opposition to open-net-cage salmon farms, made it impossible for the industry to find sites that are ecologically and socially acceptable.

In his report, Mr Miller says that the loss of the Englewood plant in Port McNeill was due to lack of production - production that could be achieved if the industry was able to expand its capacity and meet the rapidly growing market for farmed salmon in both Canada and overseas.

However, Ms Lash does not agree. She says the plant's closure was a bottom-line decision due to industry consolidation and economics.

Marine Harvest (the owners of Englewood) merged with Pan Fish (Alpha Processing's owners) recently and both plants are within a 45-minute drive of each other. The Alpha plant was rebuilt a few years ago and is state-of-the-art facility with higher production capacity than Englewood.

Business drivers
And Marine Harvest acknowledged this when the plants was decommissioned. Efficiency and competitiveness are the key drivers for this business.

Ms Lash also states that there is no concerted anti-aquaculture movement in BC, just a strong emphasis on creating a more sustainable and economically viable industry that will provide jobs and an economic benefit to coastal communities.

She says that using ocean-based, closed-containment rearing systems satisfy both environmental and ecomonic concerns and the industry should not have such blinkered views. "This system protects wild salmon and the marine ecosystem while allowing the salmon farming industry to grow fish," she noted.

More research
Pilot projects are under development by private industry and she would like to see more research funding from the federal and provincial governments, and BC Salmon Farmers Association, so the technology nand management systems can be improved.

Living Oceans Society (LOS) and the Coastal Alliance for Aquaculture Reform (CAAR) are currently initiating a joint study with Marine Harvest Canada to assess the technical and economic feasibility of ocean-based closed-containment systems.

CAAR and Marine Harvest beleive it is time for constructive dialogue and new solutions, instead of tired rhetoric and misinformation. By working together we believe we can increase our knowledge of alternative technologies that will inform a vision for a sustainable salmon farming industry, she Ms Lash.

For further reading click here

To read Dan Miller's article click here

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