Atlantic Canada fish farming body call British Columbia move to land-based closed containment sites, “nonsense”

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“Atlantic salmon farmers have one word for the Liberal Party and Green Party election promises,” says ACFFA, arguing the ocean is the best place for salmon to grow from smolts to market size – just as they do in nature.

Industry voice the Atlantic Canada Fish Farmers Association (ACFFA) have come out fighting over the news that Liberal Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s re-election campaign includes a pledge that has angered salmon farmers from coast to coast.

In its political program, the Liberal Party writes that it will “work with the province to develop a responsible plan to transition from open net-pen salmon farming in coastal waters to closed containment systems by 2025”.

However, the ACFFA wrote in a press release that the pledge is “nonsense”.

The ACFFA highlighted that it would require 33,719 acres (159 square kilometres) of land to grow fish in appropriate densities in land-based systems to match British Columbia’s average 75,000-tonnes-a-year production of salmon.

“The lack of knowledge behind these election promises is quite astonishing, especially from two parties that claim to be serious about taking action on climate change. Even if it were possible to move all ocean-based farms to land by 2025 (which it’s not because the technology does not exist on that scale), such a move would bring significant environmental, fish health welfare concerns and devastating socio-economic damage in rural coastal communities.

“Our salmon farmers are experts in closed containment because their fish spend more than half their lives in land-based hatcheries where water recirculation systems are used. Land-based technology continues to evolve (salmon farmers are the ones driving that innovation!), but at this point, the evidence is clear: the ocean is the best place for that final stage for salmon to grow from smolts to market size – just as they do in nature. Those who advocate moving all salmon farms from the ocean onto land need to realize that the practice of growing salmon to full maturity in tanks poses very real challenges. To grow salmon to market size and meet the global demand would require massive amounts of land, water and energy. And most importantly there are animal welfare considerations”.