Closed Containment in BC


A solid wall barrier between farmed fish and the marine environment helps protect the ecosystem and wild fish from the impacts of industrial salmon farming. Wastes, disease, parasites, escapes, and other risks are better able to be controlled with closed, contained systems. This protection is the reason why CAAR supports the move to closed containment systems for salmon aquaculture in BC.

Closed Containment Projects in BC

  • The ‘Namgis First Nation opposes net-cage salmon farms within or adjacent to its traditional territory. But they have launched a project aimed at demonstrating the technological and commercial viability of producing closed containment salmon in a land-based, re-circulating aquaculture facility. Currently in construction, the pilot’s first salmon grow-out cycle is expected to occur towards the end of 2012.
  • Middle Bay Sustainable Aquaculture Institute and Agrimarine Inc. in Campbell River BC has launched a floating tank facility to raise Pacific chinook salmon. One tank is operational and fish have been produced for market. The hope is to eventually have a four-tank floating system at Middle Bay, north of Campbell River. The company is licenced to produce 1,200 metric tonnes of salmon per year.
  • Swift Aquaculture has operated a land-based closed containment fish farming operation based in Agassiz, B.C., raising eight to ten tonnes of coho salmon per year and using waste water from the tanks to grow watercress and wasabi. The coho salmon is available at high-end restaurants in Vancouver. Watch a video of the operation. The operation has recently been bought by a larger company that hopes to expand production considerably.
  • Marine Harvest Canada announced their intention to design a commercial-scalable closed containment pilot project for salmon aquaculture in early 2010 but has put their plans on hold indefinitely.

The BC public, businesses, and governments have shown strong support for closed containment:

  • Polls have shown over 80% of British Columbians favour the move towards closed systems for aquaculture.
  • In April 2010 the Intertribal Treaty Organization (ITO) voted unanimously to support Indigenous Nations of the Broughton Archipelago and Georgia Straits for the immediate removal of fish farms from their territories for the protection of Fraser River fish stocks. ITO member Chiefs also expressed their support for a transition from open net-cage practices to closed containment technology for the aquaculture industry in BC.
  • Over 40 organizations have signed a Declaration calling funding for closed containment. This includes BC Nature (Federation of BC Naturalists), which represents over 50 nature clubs and societies, who passed a resolution at their recent AGM to actively support this.
  • The final report of the Pacific Salmon Forum (PSF), a three-year government funded research program, was released in February 2009 and frankly acknowledged the magnitude of the problems wild salmon are facing, including those created by open net-cage salmon farms. One of the PSF’s recommendations was Provincial funding for a commercial-scale closed containment project.
  • The BC Legislature’s Select Standing Committee on Finance and Government Services advised funding a closed containment development initiative in the 2009 budget. Neither the 2009 nor 2010 provincial budgets, however, contained any funding for closed containment.
  • Ten local and regional governments and community associations voiced their support for closed containment development. This community-level support is thanks in part to the ‘Closing in on Sustainable Salmon Farming,’ a presentation given by members of CAAR to interested community members, government officials, and related committees around coastal British Columbia.
  • Twenty-five restaurants and retailers – many of which are on the Wild Salmon Supporters program – signed letters in support of closed containment development in BC.
  • In 2007, the BC government’s Special Committee on Sustainable Aquaculture delivered a report with a list of recommendations. One of the Committee’s key recommendations was that “a rapid, phased transition to ocean-based closed containment begin immediately,” and that the industry transition to closed containment within 5 years.

Despite this support, government and industry have yet to provide their plan for a transition to closed containment salmon aquaculture in BC. Learn how you can support change and make a difference.