British Columbia minister will push to move salmon farming onshore

Published on
March 12, 2018

The minister of forest, land and natural resource operations, and rural development in British Columbia, Canada has called for moving open-net fish farms from the ocean to land-based operations. 

Doug Donaldson stated publicly that though the option to ban Atlantic salmon farming is not currently available to him, as it’s regulated by the federal government, he is in favor of phasing out ocean-based salmon farming in favor of closed containment. 

“We’re very concerned as a government about protecting wild salmon and the migratory routes that they use and we’re very interested in moving to closed containment where feasible,” he said in an interview with CBC News.

The permits for 22 fish farms in the province come up for renewal in the summer of 2018, and Donaldson said he will try and move as many as possible to contained farming systems. 

Donaldson said the August 2017 collapse of a Cooke Aquaculture Atlantic salmon farm in neighboring Washington state, which released hundreds of thousands of non-native fish into Puget Sound, drew his attention to the risks of ocean fish farming, and that as a result, he is ready to “try a new approach.”

"What we really want to do is look at the long term of aquaculture with the First Nations involved, with community and with industry," he said. ”We know there's bright spots in the future as far as closed containment when it comes to Atlantic salmon farming.”

For years, protestors in Canada, including First Nation tribes, have spoken out against Atlantic salmon farming in Canada, claiming it threatens native salmon fisheries. They are likely to welcome Davidson’s statements. 

Reporting from Seattle, Washington, U.S.A.

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