Port Moody-Coquitlam MP Fin Donnelly is raising an important issue with Bill C-228, which would require the west coast aquaculture industry to move to closed-containment systems instead of open net-cages in the ocean.
A switch to closed containment makes sense because it would protect B.C.'s endangered wild stocks by ensuring farmed salmon don't escape to compete for scarce food or spread sea lice, which is a problem for Atlantic species that make up the bulk of farmed salmon.
The industry is resistant because switching to land-based systems would be more costly and the transition could put some smaller companies out of business, endangering jobs in coastal B.C. communities.
Instead, the industry is moving towards adopting more sustainable business practices but those might not be enough to protect wild salmon in the long term given the growth predicted for aquaculture.
Donnelly's bill offers a transition period, and with support from government and buy-in from consumers, B.C.'s salmon farming industry could set an example for smart, sustainable farming practices that could be a model for the world.