A land-based fish farm could soon be operating in the Slocan Valley.
Valhalla Aquaculture, a company owned by Paul and Joan Hampaul, has applied for a licence to divert water out of Trozzo Creek to a facility that would be built between Highway 6 and the Slocan River north of Winlaw.
Paul Hampaul said he considered raising animals such as pigs and cows on the property, but that wildlife use the 67-acre property as a corridor and that such farming might contaminate the creek and river.
Raising rainbow trout in tanks and raceways, however, made sense to him.
“First of all, it’s land based. We can have better control of the water quality, we can manage disease, we can manage biohazard, what goes in, what goes out,” said Hampaul. “It also just provides a better way of controlling the effluent, which unfortunately they don’t do in open water.
“Above all it will provide healthy, nutritious and sustainable food source. We have choices. We can grow our own, as we all want 100-mile radius food sources, or we can import from China as most of our seafood is coming these days.”
The facility will require two nearby intakes from Trozzo Creek at 42 litres per second. Hampaul said no waste will be flushed back into the water source. Instead, the company plans on using filters to clean effluent, tail water will be directed into settling ponds and then into soil infiltration, and fish excrement will be used to make fertilizer.
No provincial Land Act tenure is required to build the facility because it is on private land, but the water licence application requires 30 days of public consultation from the date of its first notice, which was on July 26. A drawing of the proposed site can be found at the bottom of this story.
Land-based fish farms are increasingly being considered as an alternative to open-water facilities, which are criticized for exposing wild salmon to disease and operating on First Nations territories without a prior agreement.
Alternatively, opponents of land-based aquaculture such as the BC Salmon Farmers Association say such ventures would put thousands of people out of work.
Hampaul, who is principal of the Calgary-based energy consulting company Entramar Ltd., said he has owned the site of the proposed fish farm for over a decade along with a home and a cabin in the area.
“We are very responsible land owners and farmers. We breathe the same air and drink the same water. The last thing we want to do is screw up anything. We also want to live in the community. We are neighbours, we are part of the biome.”
Public feedback can be sent to Tom Cummings at FrontCounter BC’s Nelson office, or to Jen Andrews at FrontCounter BC in Cranbrook.