Mr. Speaker, as part of its commitment to an in-depth understanding of emerging technologies, in 2008, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, DFO, assessed the technical feasibility of closed containment methods for salmon aquaculture, sourcing input and information from 60 international experts. This peer review of six working papers was led by DFO through the Canadian Science Advisory Secretariat, CSAS, which is the department's primary scientific, peer review process. In this review, land-based recirculating aquaculture systems, i.e., land-based closed containment, showed biological and technological potential; however, at that time none were producing exclusively adult Atlantic salmon, and numerous attempts to do so had resulted in failure for various reasons. Further research on the effects of high density culture on fish welfare and disease management was recommended. The floating closed containment systems evaluated, especially rigid walled systems, presented engineering challenges that might limit use in more exposed areas; however, the potential for these to be addressed with engineering solutions was identified. The results of the 2008 report “Potential Technologies for Closed Containment Saltwater Salmon Aquaculture” are available at the following link: https://waves-vagues.dfo-mpo.gc.ca/Library/332156.pdf.
In follow-up to the CSAS study, in 2010, the department conducted an economic analysis of a model commercial-scale closed containment facility. The study concluded that while closed containment production of adult Atlantic salmon has the potential for financial feasibility, it is very susceptible to a range of commercial variables that could quickly make it uneconomical. The results of the report, the “Feasibility Study of Closed Containment Options for the British Columbia Aquaculture Industry”, are available at the following link: https://www.dfo-mpo.gc.ca/aquaculture/programs-programmes/BC-aquaculture-CB-eng.htm.
As announced by the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans in December of 2018, DFO, in partnership with Sustainable Development Technology Canada, SDTC, and the Province of British Columbia, B.C., commissioned and funded a study on the state of salmon aquaculture technologies to examine the risks and opportunities of the most promising emerging technologies for salmon farming in B.C. The study explored the financial, environmental and social elements of emerging aquaculture technologies and highlighted some of the ways to incent the adoption of these new technologies, including how other countries have incented adoption. The study explored four technology options: land-based closed-containment; floating closed containment; offshore technologies; and hybrid systems, which combine both land and marine-based systems. We expect that the state of salmon aquaculture technologies study will be released soon.
The state of salmon aquaculture technology study indicated that all four production technologies have the opportunity to reduce interactions between farmed and wild salmon compared to conventional open net pen aquaculture production, but the assessment against other environmental, economic and social elements varied. While full grow-out to market size fish in land-based closed containment inherently has the most strengths in environmental performance with respect to reducing interactions with the marine environment and wild fish, the study also indicated that a high amount of energy is used in closed containment system construction and operation, but noted that this, as well as the corresponding greenhouse gas emissions, could be offset by locating systems closer to consumer markets and feed sources, and by using low carbon energy alternatives where possible.
The study concluded that, overall, land-based closed containment and hybrid systems are the most technologically developed for application in B.C., while floating closed containment and offshore technologies still require about five to ten years of further development and evaluation. The study indicated that land-based closed containment, though less financially proven, is the most socially acceptable technology by opponents of open net pen aquaculture, as long as it is developed and operated in B.C. On the other hand, the study also indicated that the hybrid system is likely more profitable and the preferred choice for the majority of industry, contingent on its also operating in the B.C. coastal region, responding to some of the key economic and environmental performance criteria.
The government has not studied the commercial viability of closed containment systems in Canada between now and 2025, nor the economic and social impact of requiring operators to convert to closed containment systems by 2025.