“You’re not going to see the entire industry picked up from the ocean and moved on land in five years”

Trade group raises serious doubts about move to land-based in BC, Canada.

In an interview with the Campbell River Mirror, executive director of the BC Salmon Farmers Association John Paul Fraser has questioned the feasibility of the Canadian government’s plans to shift to land-based in just five years.

Fraser told the publication that “what the government is saying makes no sense” and criticized the phase-out as “putting promises ahead of policy”.

“You’re not going to see the entire industry picked up from the ocean and moved on land in five years. It is not going to happen. People need to stop thinking that it can. We can work towards alternate forms of ocean-based production to build and grow aquaculture,” he said.

“I want to make this abundantly clear, we would never talk bad about land-based aquaculture, we know a thing or two about how it is done, where it can be done and when it can be done. The problem is you have a government who doesn’t know any of those three things saying what can happen, as opposed to the people who are actually doing it. They are putting promises ahead of policy,” he added.

The BC Salmon Farmers Association has been vocal in its frustration at December’s decision to close down Discovery Islands salmon farms. Farmed salmon continues to be B.C.’s most valuable seafood export by far. Currently, 94 per-cent of B.C. salmon total comes from traditional open-net sea pens. However, Canadian Coast Guard Bernadette Jordan is drafting a plan to phase out open-net aquaculture in B.C by 2025.

A government 64-page report highlighting options other than traditional open-net pens was released last year, such as land-based recirculating aquaculture systems (RAS) and floating closed-containment systems (CCS).

Fraser told the publication that in terms of shifting the entire industry to land-based, the government is creating “uncertainty by making decisions without plans”.

“What the government is saying makes no sense, because what we are currently doing is working,” he said.

“It’s almost as if people haven’t realized that land-based aquaculture has its own challenges that have yet to be overcome, and would need to be, if it was ever going to become a serious part of aquaculture,” said Fraser.