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Salmon farm. (Photo: BCSFA)

Farmed salmon has lower environmental cost that chicken, pork and beef, BCSFA claims

  (CANADA, 10/13/2016)

The BC Salmon Farmers Association (BCSFA) maintains that the aquaculture industry in the state is among the most environmentally sustainable in the world. Besides, it highlights it has invested over CAD 50 million (USD 37.8 million) in modern farming infrastructure to improve health outcomes for fish and engaging in research to learn more about wild and farm raised salmon interactions.

In addition, it states it is working fast to meet the environmentally sustainable salmon farming global standard set by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF).

The organisation made these statements in response to those supporting Port Moody-Coquitlam MP Fin Donnelly’s Private Member’s Bill C-228. This initiative proposes the federal government amend the Fisheries Act to require all open net fin-fish farms on the Pacific Coast to transition to closed containment systems within five years.

“We believe B.C’s competitive advantage is our vast ocean resource and responsible stewardship of that resource will provide economic advancement for coastal communities, First Nations, and protect wild salmon for generations to come,” a BCSFA release stated.

The association deems that salmon farmers globally have come a long way from the dialogue of land-based or marine-based farming and have adopted practices that utilize both to their maximum advantage to develop the industry in a responsible way.

BCSFA stressed that one of its top priorities is that each of its members operating a salmon farm has achieved at least one third-party environmental certification, including all farms raising Atlantic salmon are 100 per cent certified to the Global Aquaculture Alliance’s Best Aquaculture Practices standard, 15 per cent of active Atlantic salmon farms are certified to the Aquaculture Stewardship Council’s (ASC) salmon standard, and 100 per cent of chinook salmon farms are Certified Organic.

Furthermore, BCSFA collaborates with multiple organizations on six key scientific research projects through the CAD 1.5-million Marine Environmental Research Program, designed to learn more about wild and farm raised salmon interactions. Collaborating organizations include Pacific Salmon Foundation, University of B.C., North Island College, Vancouver Aquarium.

The association also highlights that ocean farm-raised salmon has the lowest overall environmental cost. Based on the valuation of greenhouse gases, land use, water use, and eutrophication, B.C. salmon farming has a lower total environmental cost than beef, chicken, or pork. Farm-raised salmon is 24 per cent less costly to the environment than chicken, while beef has a cost that is 500 per cent greater than salmon raised in an ocean environment.

This is added to the fact that farm-raised salmon is B.C.’s highest valued agricultural export, generates more than 5,000 jobs, and has a total economic impact of CAD 1.1 billion (USD 830 million).

On the other hand, BCSFA remarks that salmon farmers are working closely with coastal First Nations and have 20 economic impact benefit agreements in place, accounting for 78 per cent of all salmon raised in B.C.

Members of the BCSFA produced 75,000 tonnes of salmon in 2015, which is about 98 per cent of the total provincial harvest of farm-raised salmon. Over 95 per cent of the salmon raised in B.C. are Atlantic salmon.

According to the association, no GMOs or hormones are used to enhance growth in B.C.’s farm-raised salmon. Besides, salmon on farms in B.C. are extremely healthy with about 90 per cent of salmon surviving through to market.

Finally, it outlines that salmon farming companies in B.C. continue to invest in farming systems resulting in improvements in key indicators such as escapes. In 2015, 3 salmon escaped from farms into the marine environment. 

Related article:

Wild salmon protection initiative supported by 'Captain Kirk'


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