Marine Harvest requests federal funding for closed containment

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Marine Harvest requests federal funding for closed containment

In an exciting development in the final days of 2009, Marine Harvest Canada (MHC) sent a letter to Gail Shea, Minister of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO), that included a request for support and funding for a closed containment pilot project.

MHC revealed their company had internal plans for developing a new land-based closed containment facility to local media in December. Now, not only are scientists, environmental organizations and concerned citizens urging the Canadian government step up and fund closed containment development, the largest salmon farming company in BC is also indicating new technologies should be explored.

Marine Harvest has been monitoring the progress of national and international closed containment projects over the past year and would like to move ahead with a pilot utilizing their own expertise. The work plan for the project is expected to be complete by the end of March 2010, at which point MHC will make a public announcement of the project proposal.

CAAR will be involved in this process via the Framework for Dialogue with Marine Harvest and will engage in the development of an economic model to audit commercial viability of the system and monitoring and assessment of the anticipated environmental benefits and performance of the technology.

This change of position by MHC underlines the compelling social and environmental merits of closed containment technology. A convergence of environmental realities, public pressure and competition with other industry players who are already moving ahead with this burgeoning technology are creating a new dynamic that supports more respectful use of our ocean resources.

Investment and support on the part of government is an essential requirement, as is the case with most emerging green sectors, in the establishment of new technologies. Send this fax or contact your MP and your MLA to urge both the federal and provincial governments to provide funding for a closed containment innovation fund and get pilot projects, like this one, up and running!

Esteemed scientists advise removal of farms along wild salmon migration routes

Fraser River Sockeye declines over the past 50 years. Source: Adapting to Change: Statement from Think Tank of Scientists, SFU, December 2009

Early last month, a think tank of scientists gathered at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver to discuss possible causes of the Fraser River sockeye collapse and urgent next steps needed to protect this iconic species. The group released a statement noting that the 2009 return was the lowest in 50 years and that the productivity of Fraser River sockeye has been declining since the mid-1990s to levels so low that they are almost unable to replace themselves.

Their recommendations include addressing the lack of available data on farmed salmon health and the potential for transfer of disease and parasites to wild salmon as well as immediate measures to experimentally remove salmon farms from sockeye migration routes. The scientists urged decision makers to take short-term actions before the federal judicial inquiry is completed, more than 18 months away.

This scientific consensus reinforces and adds urgency to CAAR’s call for the removal of salmon farms in the Wild Salmon Narrows in the northern Georgia Strait. We believe that this measure follows the precautionary approach and will help reduce the threats to survival that Fraser sockeye and other wild salmon in the area are facing.

CAAR supports these recommendations and encourages government to implement the advice of the scientists immediately.

Sea lice out of control in Norway

Salmon farms in Norway are experiencing explosive increases in sea lice, likely a result of growing resistance to chemical treatments for the removal of the parasite. This increase is severely threatening the survival of migrating juvenile wild salmon.

It has been reported that Norwegian salmon farmers observed three times as many lice on their farms during the autumn of 2009 over the previous year’s numbers.

This had led Norway’s Directorate for Nature Management and the Norwegian Institute for Nature Research to issue a warning that salmon farming in Norway must be reduced for 2010.

The Norwegian branch of the Worldwide Fund for Nature (WWF) has called for the destruction of the most highly infected stocks in order to protect wild salmon. However, the Norwegian Seafood Federation claims this is out of the question for the time being.

Media reports suggest that Norwegians may in fact be tightening controls on the industry, halting expansion and possibly working to downsize. However, this may not be good news for Canada as more pressure may be brought to bear on the Canadian government to move forward with expansion plans.

A look back at 2009 and what’s next in 2010!

When it comes to salmon management in BC, 2009 was one for the history books. From the BC Supreme Court ruling to transition management of fin fish farms from the provincial to the federal government, to the catastrophic Fraser River sockeye crash and resulting call for a judicial inquiry into the causes – it was a year full of challenges and loss, but these losses created significant potential for change.

Thanks to each of you for participating, along with so many concerned citizens, in the groundswell of activity in support of wild salmon that shaped 2009. If you sent a fax or letter to Canada’s political leaders, let your local restaurants and grocers know why you don’t support net-cage farmed salmon or joined in a rally to voice your concerns THANK YOU. You have helped spread awareness of the environmental threat net-cage salmon farms pose to wild salmon, ocean ecosystems, and all species that depend on them.

It is active citizens that provide the necessary pressure to make government and industry listen and act in our collective best interests. The work of CAAR is continually buoyed by the passion and dedication of all of the people who are willing to lend their support to this issue.

As we move into 2010, the beginning of a make or break decade for the planet, we hope you will continue fighting with us to change destructive salmon farming practices and to stand up for wild salmon on the west coast!

In this next year we aim to report to you about multiple new closed containment projects getting underway and the reversal of decades of increased net-cage production in BC waters. Building on the momentum gained in 2009, we are confident that together we can achieve significant change in the year ahead.

Thank you for your ongoing support,