Yet another aquaculture development project was announced this week and this time, for a change of taste, it was for cod. As I read the announcement on the DFO website that the the gov of Canada and the Newfoundland dept. of Fisheries and Aquaculture has teamed up with Cooke aquaculture on a joint investment in a demo cod farm, I couldn't help but think......AAHHH NOT ANOTHER FREAKIN OPEN NET FISH FARM DEVELOPMENT!
Remember when cod use to flourish off the waters of Newfoundland? Me either because I was too young but I've read about it and have seen pictures, and it is so depressing to think that now they're reduced to being raised in pens while their few remaining wild brothers and sisters dodge trawl nets. Some would argue that raising them in pens is the sustainable thing to do......but as the aquaculture industry has proven time and time again, open net pens aren't helping to save our wild stocks, they're further threatening them....and polluting our oceans to boot.
I keep looking to DFO and the industry to maybe have a little foresight and instead of investing in new open net farm after new open net farm, perhaps recognize that when it comes to our oceans and dwindling wild stocks we're better safe than sorry...a little something you'd think they would have learned from the collapse of the northern cod stock back in the 1990s. But it seems not. In this case, when I say better safe, I mean better to take the precautionary approach and either say no to new site approvals or moving finfish systems out of migration routes and away from critical marine habitat to closed containment systems.
Arguments are often made by government and industry folk that closed containment won't work or is simply too pricey but it seems to me that if there are hundreds of thousands, hell MILLIONS of dollars to be throwing at new industry developments and 'innovation', how about we start them off right by investing in closed containment systems on the east coast and adding on to the great pilot project out here in BC.
DFO, we know you're concerned about the sustainability of the industry, but in case you have forgotten, you're also responsible for the protection of wild stocks and their habitat.....the commercial fishermen agree that the pollution and impacts on wildlife is a huge problem, as do many First Nations communities, and scientists, and the list goes on. It's time Canada's finfish farming industry close up or close down. Feel free to write Minister Gail Shea and tell her that. Min@dfo-mpo.gc.ca