Letter: Committee identifies open-net aquaculture as risky

Published on February 7, 2017

The viability and recovery of depleted wild Atlantic salmon populations can be negatively affected by open net-pen salmonid aquaculture in coastal marine areas.

Jonathan Carr, executive director of research with the Atlantic Salmon Federation, gave the example of the Magaguadavic River in southwestern New Brunswick, where unreported escapees from salmon farms have bred with wild salmon and “destroyed” the wild population.

The committee was told by Fred Parsons, general manager of the Environment Resources Management Association about a DFO study confirming extensive interbreeding between farmed and wild salmon in 17 out of the 18 rivers in southern Newfoundland.

Bill Taylor of the Atlantic Salmon Federation added that DFO’s recovery potential assessments for endangered and threatened wild salmon populations in the inner Bay of Fundy, along the Atlantic coast of Nova Scotia and on the south coast of Newfoundland, identified open net-pen salmon aquaculture as a “high-level” threat.

Taylor advocated for a moratorium on the expansion of open net-pen salmon aquaculture and moving the salmon aquaculture industry to land-based closed containment as one alternative. He also called for the standardization of regulations regarding containment, disease treatment and pollution control.

The Norwegian model and the Aquaculture Stewardship Council certification were mentioned as inspiration sources for best practices in the aquaculture industry.

Fuller mentioned that, “Atlantic Canadian farms use 204 times and 241 times, respectively, more antibiotics than comparable farms in Norway and Scotland, and six times more than farms in B.C.”

Therefore, witnesses such as the Atlantic Salmon Federation and the Eel Ground First Nation support a transition towards land-based closed containment aquaculture.