Wild Salmon

Wild salmon first or money first?

A chance for the money boys to make more money around the hysteria about salmon farming in BC

By Fabian Dawson


A recent op-ed in the Vancouver Sun by well-known local entrepreneurs urged Premier John Horgan (pictured) to let tenures for open net-pen salmon farms expire.

The op-ed was written by Tony Allard, president of Hearthstone Investment and chairman of Wild Salmon Forever, and by mining titan Ross Beaty, who is the president of The Sitka Foundation and a founding member of Wild Salmon Forever.

Both pushed Horgan to replace BC’s sustainable open-net salmon farming with land-based operations.

They conveniently forget to mention that B.C. is littered with failed attempts to grow either Pacific or Atlantic salmon in land-based recirculating aquaculture systems (RAS) over the past 20 years, as pointed out by  Business in Vancouver.

So what is behind this renewed push by well-known names for land-based recirculating aquaculture systems at the expense of an established sustainable multi-billion-dollar maritime salmon farming industry that employs 6,600 people?

It’s a chance for the money boys to make more money.

Wild Salmon Forever is among a spectrum of groups with the same members who are behind the recent hysteria to shut down salmon farms.

The groups use paid consultants to get “earned media”, letter writing campaigns and by engaging chefs with unsanitary kitchens to condemn the industry.

At the same time, key members and funders of the group are behind a company called BC LandAqua Ventures Inc. which is planning the development of an aquaculture park.

In a letter to potential investors, BC LandAqua Ventures Inc. uses the recent eco-hype around salmon farming as an opportunity to get the government to give them a million bucks.

It was registered on May 4, 2018 with the incorporation number BC 1162925.

“The announcement of the aquaculture park project will help counter industry’s rhetoric and convince all levels of government that BC has the potential to become a major land-based salmon producing region. The aquaculture park announcement will also help the provincial government deflect the inevitable criticism if and when it restricts and/or begins transitioning the existing open net pen industry out of the water,” the letter states.

“LandAqua is seeking $2 million ($1 million from private sources and $1 million from governments) to:

  • secure (option), assess, and permit a 100-150 acre site for a multiuse aquaculture park;
  • complete the preliminary design of the site infrastructure; and
  • draft all of the intercompany and tenant agreements.

The minimum subscription amount will be $50,000,” it states.

“The Federal government has been asked to provide significant tax incentives in the form of tax grants and accelerated depreciation to early-stage land-based producers to improve the risk-return profile of new facilities.”

“Subject to LandAqua being certified as an Eligible Business Corporation, investments will be eligible for a 30% BC Investment Tax Credit,” the letter concludes.

The core team behind this investment potential are; Mike Cunning, owner of Upcountry Properties Group and member of Wild Salmon Forever, Jon Fitzgerald, a seasoned investment banker who has been working in the RAS sector, Eric Hobson – co-founder of numerous private and public companies and member of Wild Salmon Forever and Kuterra team members Gary Robinson and Garry Ullstrom, who have been critical of ocean-based salmon farms.

Kuterra, a flailing land-based aquaculture operation in BC, has already hoovered up about $6 million of taxpayer’s money from the federal government.

 The Vancouver Sun reported in March 2017 that Kuterra, has been ordered to wind down operations by the Namgis First Nation, which owns the project, after talks broke down with a buyer.

In an op-ed published in the North Island Gazette last week, Kuterra chairman Eric Hobson – yes the same one behind the newly-minted BC LandAqua Ventures Inc. that wants more government dollars – claims that a US investor is currently talking with Kuterra about developing the business. This op-ed also tries to make the case for land-based salmon farming.

Allard, Beaty and Hobson make no mention of the plan to get government dollars by BC LandAqua Ventures Inc. in their op-eds.

Neither does Wild Salmon Forever in its propaganda campaigns.

I will let you make your own assumptions about that.

For those whose concern for wild salmon is genuine, manipulative and self-interested campaigns represent an abuse of public trust.

Donating to them, signing their petitions, attending their rallies are great if you want to make rich people richer, but they only undermine the work of true professionals in conservation, enhancement, commercial fisheries and aquaculture.




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