Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Technology is in place, it's the political will that's missing

The Fisheries critic for the NDP Skeena's Robin Austin has seen the future for salmon farming, but he's wondering if Premier Campbell will ever share the vision.

Austin is singing the praises of closed containment technology, but is finding frustration at the slow pace of change that the Liberal's have shown as 2009 moves into its second month.

His frustrations were highlighted in a Tuesday article in the Daily News

New self-contained salmon farming is lauded
By Kris Schumacher
The Daily News
Tuesday, February 3, 2009
Page one

The development of a new closed-containment salmon farm has New Democrats excited about the future of the aquaculture industry in British Columbia, and disappointed that the Liberals don't see it.

Skeena MLA and fisheries critic Robin Austin is upset that 2009 has arrived without any move from the provincial government to migrate salmon aquaculture operations from open net-cage farms to closed-containment technology, even though the technology is now available.

"Gordon Campbell is too arrogant to admit that moving to closed-containment would protect jobs and wild salmon," said Austin.

"I'm glad that some members of the industry can see the advantage in being ahead of the pack in developing this technology. It's a shame that the Campbell government is too short-sighted to see the same benefits in helping our province lead the world in sustainable aquaculture practices.
"The technology exists, and the dire need to protect wild salmon exists. All that is missing is the political will of Gordon Campbell."

Austin was chair of the Special Committee on Sustainable Aquaculture that, in May 2007, recommended the salmon farming industry in British Columbia transition to closed-containment within five years.

The escape of 43,000 Atlantic salmon from a Marine Harvest farm near Klemtu on Dec. 20 was the most recent incident in a year filled with industry scrutiny by fish farm opponents. The incident was particularly troubling given that even fisheries personnel were skeptical about how such a large number of salmon could escape through a hole the size of a sea lion, and commented that a faulty pen should not be in the path of winter outflows and in a bottleneck that ensures direct contact with all wild salmon in the area.

"The Agrimarine model fits well with the recs from the Aquaculture Committee, and hopefully we can eliminate escapes like the one last December with the ocean-based closed-containment model that will be launched this July," said North Coast MLA Gary Coons.

"We need a commitment from the provincial government and Premier Campbell that environmental protection is a priority, and we need investment in closed containment. We can lead the world in this technology if we have the desire and the aspirations to truly lead the world in fisheries management."

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