Experts call on Canadian government to accelerate transition away from open-net pen fish farms in B.C.

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DFO report suggests land-based alternative to open-net salmon farms in B.C.

Last week, the Canadian Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) released a report listing alternatives to open-net pen salmon farms.

Ottawa has pledged to ban open-net pen salmon farms in B.C. by 2025 and transition to a sustainable business model.

In the report, some stakeholders suggested the government research all the costs of different modes of salmon farming. Among alternatives to open-net pen salmon farms proposed were land-based, closed-containment systems, as well as hybrid systems.

Speaking to the Vancouver Sun, Stan Proboszcz, a science advisor for the Watershed Watch Salmon Society who was interviewed as an expert by the committee developing the report, says this call for more research is just a form of delay.

“This isn’t the first government engagement on removing salmon farms… We’ve had the Cohen inquiry.”

“We think the situation with the declining wild salmon stocks has become more urgent,” he said. “We’ve seen some of the lowest returns and we’ve seen unprecedented wild commercial salmon fishing closures.”

Proboszcz believes a transition to land-based aquaculture could be a way to preserve jobs and create a physical barrier between farmed fish and the wild fish.

Participants in the federal government’s engagement process included First Nations representatives, provincial and municipal governments, international experts, fish health experts, veterinarians and pathologists, academics, environmental groups, investors, foreign aquaculture operators, local industry and ancillary industry operators.