In November 2005, the BC Provincial Government appointed a Special Committee on Sustainable Aquaculture to examine the economic and environmental impacts of the aquaculture industry in BC and the impacts on coastal communities and sustainable options, focusing on the interactions between aquaculture, wild fish and marine environment. The committee traveled to 21 communities, received 814 written submissions, heard from more than 80 expert witnesses, visited 16 sites and commissioned an economic study of the wild and farmed industries.
The 52 resulting recommendations are very encouraging for the health and survival of the BC marine environment and indicate the Committee’s understanding of the very real threats posed by the salmon farm industry.
The highlights of the recommendations are as follows:
- Transition and development of ocean-based closed containment, to be implemented with transition assistance and incentives for the industry within five years:
- No fish farms north of Vancouver Island, but the two 2 farms already existing will be grandfathered.
- A provincially supported pro-active marketing strategy which will promote the evolving sustainable aquaculture industry;
- Any expansion must utilize ocean-based closed containment technology
- No increase in production levels per site or per tenure
- First Nations and local residents involvement in all applications
- First Nation/watchmen program based on best practices
- Development of a Broughton Archipelago fallow similar to 2003 based on precautionary principle
- Establishment of protocols which specifically refer to sea lice monitoring and control, including: separation of generation.
These recommendations will go a long way to ensure the survival of both the wild salmon, the marine ecosystems and vibrant coastal communities. It is now essential that we convince the Provincial Government to implement these recommendations as quickly as possible.