Cermaq Canada refutes activists’ claim that it is ‘expanding’ in BC

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Cermaq Canada is setting straight the claim of wild salmon advocates that it is “expanding” production in British Columbia.

The agency responsible for regulating aquaculture operations in British Columbia recently approved Cermaq Canada’s application to amend three farms in northern Clayoquot Sound to make better use of them.

Wild-salmon advocate Clayoquot Action told media that the company is expanding production.

The Group told Business in Vancouver and other media on Thursday that the move to “expand” is “going completely against the mandate of the minister to get open-net pens out of the water by 2025.”

But what the “amendment” means is that Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) has approved Cermaq Canada’s application to increase biomass in three sites – Bawden Bay, Millar Channel and Dixon Bay – but the trade-off is it should operate only four of the six farms in the area at any given time.

In other words, the number of smolts entering the region has not changed from historical levels, they are now just raised on fewer sites, Cermaq Canada told SalmonBusiness in an email.

“So, the fish that may have been grown in six farms across two regions will now be grown in just four farms in the north region. Therefore, each farm will require an increase in licensed biomass to hold and grow those same number of fish to market size. The two sites will always be fallow.

“The approval of these amendments has been misrepresented by certain groups in recent media and social media,” the company continued.

“This is unfortunate as the amendments support shared outcomes of better site performance and protection of wild salmon. In fact, the amendments will support a reduction in active farms and overall rearing units, and increased efficiency to the management of our sites in the region.”

The company added the plan has been years in the making and that it followed all of the consultation requirements set out by the DFO and the province for amendments of this nature.

“This will maintain production levels in the area while allowing us to improve overall fish performance, which include proactive sea lice management to ensure standards set by Ahousaht Nation are met, and therefore better protect wild salmon in the region,” it said.