Saturday, February 07, 2009

Salmon forum calls for reduction of farm salmon production

The British Columbia Pacific Salmon Forum has done it's best for the forest industry with a lengthy and all encompassing report on the path ahead for the Wild Salmon of the province.

At 95 pages, the Forum has provided a detailed document that explores the various concerns of the salmon industry and relays a welcome suggestion to proponents of the Wild variety, that being a decrease in production of farmed salmon in the province. Environmentally friendly supporters can read the report from this link to the Forum's website.

The Daily News outlined some of the details from the report with a front page, headline story in Friday's paper.

Fish-farm-free North Coast still way to go says B.C.'s influential Pacific Salmon Forum
BY Kris Schumacher
The Daily News
Friday, February 6, 2009
Pages one and two

A hefty report from the British Columbia Pacific Salmon Forum is recommending that the provincial government makes significant changes to the way salmon farming is conducted in British Columbia in order to protect wild salmon stocks.

Charged with the task of tineling the best way forward after four years of research, the government-appointed PSF has drafted a final report, which was publicly released yesterday.

While the 95-page document does encompass a great deal and conclude with 16 recommendations, perhaps the most controversial is a drastic decrease in the amount of farmed salmon produced in the Broughton Archipelago.

The PSF report calls for an initial limit on annual production to 18,500 tonnes of farmed fish, equal to the average annual production between 1999 and 2007. It also requires that less than three per cent of juvenile wild pink and chum salmon weighing less than 0.5 grams have more than one sea lice attached to them between March 1 and May 31, to reduce the negative impacts on wild migrating populations.

"The forum invested a significant amount of its research into wild and farmed fish interactions with a focus on sea lice in the Broughton Archipelago, because we saw this area as the heart of the salmon farming/sea lice controversy," said John Fraser, chair of the Pacific Salmon Forum.

"Thanks to this research, we have been able to determine the ecosystem indicator threSnOlQS tor sea lice in this area. This is a reflection of what we believe the natural lice background levels would have been prior to fish farming.

"This is an industry specific ecosystem-based approach and it's something that needs to be put in place immediately this year."

Speaking yesterday to media, Fraser and other PSF members were clear that salmon aquaculture is just one of many human impacts on wild salmon populations that are also addressed in the report.

However, the forum took the issue seriously and reached the conclusion that in addition to the Broughton Archipelago Production limitation, all other farming operations in British Columbia should be kept at current production levels until appropriate performance indicators are set and in place.

Asked whether the forum supported the licencing of salmon farms in the North Coast area in the future, Fraser said aquacultre sites should only be where they are welcome.

"We are not suggesting any fish farms in the North unless the people in the North want them. We reported to the provincial government that the oPposition to fish farms in the Skeena watershed, up through the Bulkley and beyond, was very intense," said Fraser.

"In our document, right from the very start, our position has been that the wild salmon not only must be preserved but that they be enhanced and that they come first."

In response to the Special Committee for Sustainable Aquaculture's 2007 report and primary recommendation for an entire industry switch from open net-cage pens to closed-containment, the PSF said they could not find one example of a commercially viable closed-containment operation.

"The forum concluded that the committee's recommendation is impracticable at this time, [but] we also believed we couldn't just lea.e

I this issue alone," said Fraser. "So we are recommending that the province lead a commercial-scale trial of a closed-containment system for raising farmed salmon.

We're calling for an independent technical committee to develop the specifications for a closed-containment pilot project that would be carried out in cOoperation with industry, and that would also be supported by the federal government and the conservation sector. And because this is such a controversial issue, we believe all aspects of this pilot project must be conducted openly and transparently so the public is kept fully informed."

See Monday's edition of The Daily News for more on the Pacific Salmon Forum's recommendations for supporting wild salmon.

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