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

Federal Conservative leader Erin O’Toole speaks during a virtual South Surrey & White Rock Chamber of Commerce town hall on Saturday, March 6, 2021.
O’Toole says South Surrey, White Rock face ‘acute’ challenges during pandemic

Federal Conservative leader speaks at local chamber town hall

A sign encouraging COVID-19 safety steps, with the Bayside rugby clubhouse – located adjacent to Semiahmoo Secondary and the South Surrey track – in background; Jan. 6, 2021. (Photo: Tracy Holmes)
Surrey sees 2,400 new COVID-19 cases in February

This is the lowest monthly increase since last fall

Liberty roses – created by acclaimed rose breeder Brad Jalbert – will be planted in White Rock later this month. (Contributed photo)
‘Liberty Rose’ to be planted along Johnston Road and at White Rock City Hall

Poppy-like rose created by acclaimed rose breeder Brad Jalbert

South Surrey’s Kirk Arsenault has started a new company, Str8laced, that sells cleat wraps that aim to keep athletes’ shoes from coming untied during games and practices. (Contributed photo)
South Surrey sports equipment entrepreneur tying up loose ends before Alberta move

Str8laced wraps keep laces from coming loose in the middle of play, says Kirk Arsenault

Volunteers from Semiahmoo Secondary joined with members of the Lower Mainland Green Team and the White Rock and South Surrey Naturalists Wednesday to remove invasive plants from White Rock’s Ruth Johnson Park. (Contributed photo)
Students, volunteers remove invasive plants from White Rock’s Ruth Johnson Park

Day-long project a collaboration between city, Lower Mainland Green Team

The James C Richardson Pipe Band marches in a Remembrance Day parade on Nov. 11, 2019 in Chilliwack. Wednesday, March 10 is International Bagpipe Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of March 7 to 13

International Bagpipe Day, Wash Your Nose Day and Kidney Day are all coming up this week

Victoria man Brett Andersen is asking for people’s help to secure him one of eight free tickets to the moon. (Screenshot/@brettandersen Instagram)
Victoria man wants your help securing a free ticket to the moon

Japanese billionaire offering eight people a trip to the moon

The Conservation Officers Service is warning aquarium users after invasive and potentially destructive mussels were found in moss balls from a pet store. (BC Conservation Officers Service/Facebook)
Aquarium users in B.C. warned after invasive mussels found at pet store

Conservation officers were told the mussels were found in a moss ball from a Terrace pet store.

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Hockey hall-of-fame legend Wayne Gretzky, right, watches the casket of his father, Walter Gretzky, as it is carried from the church during a funeral service in Brantford, Ont., Saturday, March 6, 2021. HE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Walter Gretzky remembered as a man with a ‘heart of gold’ at funeral

The famous hockey father died Thursday at age 82 after battling Parkinson’s disease

The family of injured Willoughby resident Ronald Gerald Jesso is hoping someone saw something that will help solve the mystery of how he came to be so badly hurt on the morning of Feb. 22. Jesso is still in hospital. (Jesso family/Special to Langley Advance Times)
An appeal to help solve the mystery of an injured Langley man

Family of Ronald Gerald Jesso asks witnesses to come forward

Donald Alan Sweet was once an all star CFL kicker who played for the Montreal Alouettes and Montreal Concordes over a 13-year career. Photo courtesy of Mission RCMP.
Ex-B.C. teacher who was CFL kicker charged with assault, sexual crimes against former students

Donald Sweet taught in Mission School District for 10 years, investigators seek further witnesses

During a press event on March 6, Const. Alex Berube, media relations officer for the West Shore RCMP, addressed a deadly shooting that occurred in Metchosin the night before. (Devon Bidal/News Staff)
VIDEO: One man shot dead on Vancouver Island in ‘targeted incident’

Highway 14 reopens following multi-hour closure for investigation

Most Read