Aquaculture In British Columbia Essay

2837 words - 12 pages

Fish farms or aquaculture have been a source of controversy for decades. The idea is that by harvesting and growing fish, you can lessen the dependency on fisheries, and negate the environmental impact on wild fish populations, all the while creating jobs and promoting innovation. The idea is sound but it has been argued that the means in which it is carried out can be destructive to the environment. One such debate is taking place in British Columbia (B.C.), Canada. It pits pro-aquaculture reformist like the Coastal Alliance for Aquaculture Reform (CAAR), and the First Nations against anti-aquaculture reformist like the Canadian Aquaculture Industry Alliance (CAIA) and the BC Salmon Farmers ...view middle of the document...

Meaning the ratio to how much meat they produce to how much food they need is significantly higher. As the research and methods advanced the industry grew (History of Fish Farms).
In the early 1970’s to the early 1980’s, when it first restarted, private farmers and small companies owned the majority of farms in BC. However, with the increase of regulation and standards, the capital costs became too much and these smaller businesses failed, or merged with larger companies. The aquaculture industry in B.C. saw it’s greatest boom between the mid 1980’s and mid 1990’s, when the number of fish farms went from dozens to about 121 (History of Fish Farms). However, this era was also met with failed enterprises and multiple merges. The reason for these mergers and failures was the dramatic decrease in salmon prices (History of Fish Farms). Smaller fish farms couldn’t cover their costs, and were forced to sell to bigger companies or claim bankruptcy. Currently there are about 130 fish farms in B.C. with about 75 to 80 in operation at any given time. They are predominately owned by three major companies. They are also the Canada’s number one salmon producer and responsible for producing 76,000 metric tons of salmon annually (About us, BC farmers association).
The actual process of salmon aquaculture or farming is the growing, raising and harvesting of salmon in a controlled environment. This is a multistep process that usually takes anywhere from two to three years to complete. In the first step, farmers fertilize and incubate the eggs of the female salmon and then place the eggs into freshwater holding tanks on land, where they hatch. The hatchlings are kept in their freshwater holding tanks for about 18 months, until they smoltify. Smoltification is a physiological change that allows salmon to live in salt water. Once this change happens the salmon are then moved to open-net pens floating in the ocean. There they are raised for approximately 18 months until they reach adult size, and are ready to be harvested (Aquaculture in Canada: Canadian Aquaculture Industry Alliance).
The use of open-net pens to farm salmon in BC as well as the locations they are being farmed at in B.C., have caused coalitions like the Coastal Alliance for Aquaculture Reform (CAAR), to be concerned. CAAR is a leading coalition of environmentalist and fishermen, responsible for creating aquaculture reform. The negative impacts that the fish farms have had on the British Columbian environment have raised red flags with CAAR. The environmentalists in CAAR wish to keep the unspoiled beauty of British Columbia intact, as well ensure that there is no destruction to indigenous species (End the Silence…2013).
Fisheries and fishermen associated with CAAR also wish to see aquaculture reform. According to a report in 2005, the commercial and sport fishing industries provide more money and jobs for the province of BC than aquaculture industries do (End the Silence…2013). The...

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