Wild versus farmed
British Columbia’s commercial coastal and river fisheries harvest over 80 different kinds of fish and other species. Salmon is the most commercially valuable fish species, followed by herring, shellfish, and groundfish. The Pacific fishery has become more important since Atlantic groundfish catches declined around 1990.
Pacific groundfish — hake, cod, rockfishes, halibut — represent the largest harvest by volume. Yet, the fishery faces declining catches. Excessive harvests have reduced fish stocks and, in turn, the number of fish caught. Other factors contributing to this decline include the growth in the size of the fishing fleets, and the use of radar and sonar equipment. Aquaculture, or fish farming, has expanded rapidly as catches declined. The fish farms, situated around Vancouver Island, keep fish (including nonindigenous Atlantic salmon) in net cages floating in seawater. Some experts claim aquaculture threatens the marine environment, citing the sea lice from fish farms that fatally infested wild pink salmon in the Broughton Archipelago. The debate over wild versus farmed fish intensified in September 2002, when B.C. lifted a seven-year moratorium on fish-farm expansion.
This slide show contains a number of photographs of a salmon farm on Vancouver Island.