Is land-based set to gain as traditional salmon farming is phased out?
In December, the Government of Canada announced that it has decided to phase out salmon farming in the Discovery Islands, British Columbia, from June 30, 2022. This represents 30 per-cent, or about 10-12,000 tonnes (gutted weight) of Mowi’s total average annual harvest volume in British Columbia from 2022.
Following this development closely and championing the government has been the businessmen Tony Allard and Ross Beaty.
Beaty founded Pan American Silver, a world-leading silver mining company and currently serves as Chairman of the Board. The company owns and operates mines in Mexico, Peru, Canada, Bolivia and Argentina. Mining magnate Beaty created the Sitka Foundation, which is one of Canada’s biggest environmental foundations.
Tony Allard, president of Hearthstone Investment and chairman of the advocacy group Wild Salmon Forever. The group is open in their goal to “transition away from open net-pen fish farms in coastal waters by 2025”.
In an opinion piece in Sea West News, author Fabien Dawson criticised the businessmen, alleging that they have used activism to replace sea-based salmon farming with land-based operations.
In a joint opinion piece in the Vancouver Sun in 2018, Allard and Beaty urged BC Premier John Horgan to “Let tenures for open net-pen salmon farms expire — future of industry is on land”.
“The future growth of this industry will be on land and it appears that, worldwide, the smart money knows this. Currently, 250,000 metric tonnes of land-based production are planned and this number has doubled over the past year. One land-based farm under construction in Florida will produce more than B.C.’s total current output,” they wrote.
In an interview with the Toronto Star titled “Meet the business elite who took up the fight to get fish farms out of B.C.’s water”, Allard says that Wild Salmon Forever is “a group of influential business-types who’ve taken a particular interest in the future of salmon farming”.
In December 2019, Allard told the publication that he “tasked a lawyer with digging through hundreds of government documents obtained through Access to Information laws, employed polling firms to understand the public’s position, hired lobbyists to push government to shift the industry to land, a public relations professional to help draw media attention to the issue, and contributed financially to the ‘Namgis First Nation legal challenge of the federal government’s approach to a contagious virus found among farmed fish.”
BC LandAqua Ventures
Sea West News criticised the company BC LandAqua Ventures, which is aiming to eventually produce 50,000 tonnes of salmon at a land-based site in BC. Members of Wild Salmon Forever (and some from the land-based salmon farm Kuterra) are involved in the venture. In 2019, Wild Salmon Forever member and Chairman & CEO of BC LandAqua Ventures Eric Hobson (and Kuterra chair) asked the government to implement a 25 per-cent refundable tax credit/grant for capital costs pertaining to building the first 15,000 tonnes.