The alternative to net-pen salmon feedlots is “closed containment:” growing the fish not in cages made of netting, but in solid tanks which may float in the sea, or – better – be located ashore, often inside buildings.
The salmon feedlot industry and its enablers in government say that closed containment can't be done profitably. That's just plain wrong. Here's a YouTube video on closed containment.
Agrimarine, in Campbell River, BC has just been bought by a major Norwegian aquaculture company. Agrimarine produces salmon in closed fiberglass tanks that float in the sea – or in a lake, or (in China) in reservoirs – which eliminates many of the problems of raising fish in open-water net pens.
SweetSpring Salmon in Washington state, near Seattle, raises coho salmon in fresh water tanks miles from the sea. It produces about 1000 tons a year of premium fish, which are approved by the Monterey Bay Aquarium and fetch a premium price. SweetSpring has now partnered with the Miller Hutterite community in Montana to grow coho salmon within sight of the Rocky Mountains.
In West Virginia, The Conservation Fund Freshwater Institute, in partnership with the Atlantic Salmon Federation, has been successfully producing Atlantic salmon in closed containment, on land, hundreds of miles from the sea.
The Millbrook First Nation, near Truro, Nova Scotia, is raising Arctic charr in closed containment. Arctic charr is comparable to salmon. In fact many fish lovers prefer it.
Sustainable Blue, in Centre Burlington, Nova Scotia, has been raising European sea bass and gilthead sea bream inside an industrial building near the Bay of Fundy. They're expanding into Atlantic salmon.
The closed-containment facilities in Centre Burlington and Truro are within an hour's drive of Minister Belliveau's office. They're operating now.
Much bigger things are in the works. On Vancouver Island, the 'Namgis First Nation is building a closed-containment facility that will raise more than 1400 tonnes of Atlantic salmon annually.
And a Scottish company is building what it says will be the biggest on-land Atlantic salmon farm in the world.
If closed containment is being done commercially now – in Nova Scotia, within an hour's drive of the Minister's office – then how can it be impossible? Closed containment is a huge opportunity for Nova Scotia, a perfect fit with our “pristine seafood” image. That image is being badly eroded by the torrent of stories pouring out about the diseases, pollution, poisons and dyes which are the inevitable result of farming salmon in net-pen cages in the sea. For more detail on the problems, just click there to see our full-length film, Salmon Wars.
Meanwhile, don't buy the net-pen nonsense – and don't buy the net-pen fish. There's a better way.