September 28th, 2020
This Wednesday, September 30th Fisheries Minister Bernadette Jordan has another serious crisis on her plate. She can rule that open net pens pose but a minimal risk to BC’s sockeye salmon or she can agree that the evidence to the contrary is conclusive – clearly there is more than a minimal risk. To save the sockeye, she must get the pens out of the water. East Coast anti-net pen activists from New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Newfoundland & Labrador, faced with the fragile status of their own wild Atlantic salmon, and with the memory of the cod collapse fresh in their minds, have joined forces with West Coast anti-net pen advocates to encourage the Minister to make the right decision.
The $23m Cohen Commission into the collapse of the sockeye salmon gave the Minister till Wednesday the 30th to make her decision. Having stated “…the potential harm posed to Fraser River sockeye from salmon farms is serious or irreversible,” Justice Bruce Cohen left the final decision to the Minister.
In Vancouver on the 22nd, 101 First Nations groups backed by businesses and NGO’s collectively demanded that the Minister make the obvious choice. Noted marine biologist Alexandra Morton said, “Clearly the risk is more than ‘minimal.’ She must get the pens out of the water now.”
Nova Scotia’s Healthy Bays Network’s Geoff Le Boutillier explains, “Open Net pens are highly profitable. Their operators don’t pay for the consequences of their intense industrial practices. Parasites, infectious diseases, and the captive fishes’ waste can all pass through the mesh on the currents leaving mother nature to do their dirty work. We all pay to support the operators’ bottom line.”
All over the world nations are getting the pens out of the water and onto the land. Netherlands-based Rabobank, one of the world’s top 30 banks, estimates 700,000mt of land-based closed containment finfish production is underway. Industry magazine IntraFish reports more than $3.6B USD in projects have been announced in the last three years alone. On-land fish production is a huge growth industry developing technology and achieving scale, bringing the market price down and efficiencies up to compete on par with open net pen producers. Meanwhile in Atlantic Canada our provincial governments continue to permit and actively support the outdated open net pen method.
“Justice Cohen’s recommendation to the Minister has the potential to move things in the right direction – protect our wild salmon,” observes the Atlantic Salmon Federation’s Kris Hunter. “We sincerely hope she respects the science.”
For more information:
In New Brunswick:
Neville Crabbe, Atlantic Salmon Federation, Director of Communications
In Nova Scotia:
Geoff Le Boutillier, Healthy Bays Network, firstname.lastname@example.org
In Newfoundland & Labrador:
Bill Bryden, Newfoundland-Labrador – Coalition for Aquaculture Reform, email@example.com