Environmental groups applaud federal funding for closed-containment fish-farm project

Province urged to get on board with matching funds

July 31, 2007

VANCOUVER – Funding from a federally created corporation for a closed-tank salmon-farm project is a good start at making fish farming more sustainable, according to the Coastal Alliance for Aquaculture Reform (CAAR).

Sustainable Development Technology Canada, a not-for-profit corporation created by the Government of Canada, announced recently that it will provide a contribution of $2.4 million to a project led by the Middle Bay Sustainable Aquaculture Institute (MBSAI) for a commercial-scale demonstration of closed tank salmon-growing technology at a site just north of Campbell River. The B.C. Legislature’s Special Committee on Sustainable Aquaculture recommended closed-tank systems as a way to address problems with current salmon-farming practices.

“We’re thrilled to see this financial commitment,” said David Suzuki Foundation marine conservation specialist Jay Ritchlin. “We’ve known for a long time that salmon can be successfully grown in closed tanks and now we can more effectively demonstrate the financial viability of such systems.”

The project will use solid-wall floating tanks to separate farmed fish from wild and collect solid wastes. It will also prevent the killing of sea lions and other wild animals. CAAR has been researching ways to have a successful salmon-farming industry in B.C. without putting wild salmon at risk. Closed tanks appear to be the only way to achieve both economic viability and environmental responsibility.

“Contrary to claims from most of the salmon farming industry that closed containment is impossible, here is a company that has earned significant private and public investment to move ahead with new, more sustainable closed tank technology,” said David Lane, executive director of the T. Buck Suzuki Environmental Foundation. “This commercial-scale project will build on the successes and lessons learned from earlier small-scale trials.”

CAAR applauds the funding and urges other government agencies, especially the Province of B.C., to match the funds so that a comprehensive testing and monitoring program can be put in place to help solve B.C.’s crisis with open net-cage fish farms and make B.C. a world leader in sustainable aquaculture.

“This is what we’ve been looking for,” said Deborah Conner, Executive Director of the Georgia Strait Alliance. “It’s a way to have new jobs in our communities without putting the existing economy or the environment at risk.”

MBSAI plans to have the first of four tanks in the water and stocked with fish this winter. CAAR representatives will be part of multi-stakeholder economic and environmental monitoring teams reviewing the project. Prior to receiving funding from SDTC, the project underwent extensive financial and technical due-diligence reviews.
For more information, contact:
Jay Ritchlin, Marine Conservation Specialist,
David Suzuki Foundation
(604) 732-4228 or (604) 961-6840

David Lane, Executive Director
T. Buck Suzuki Environmental Foundation
(604) 519-3635

Ruby Berry, Salmon Aquaculture Campaign Coordinator
Georgia Strait Alliance
(250) 753-3459

Ian Hanington, Communications Specialist,
David Suzuki Foundation
(604) 732-4228. ext. 238