Clayoquot Sound has one of the densest concentrations of salmon farms (feedlots) on the BC coast. At each feedlot, hundreds of thousands of salmon are contained in open net-cages suspended in the ocean and anchored close to shore. There are 21 sites here, 16 of which are active at a time. Two companies operate locally.
Cermaq (a Norwegian-owned company) operates here under the name Mainstream Canada. Its feedlots are mostly in Ahousaht First Nations waters, although its processing facility in Tofino is in Tla-o-qui-aht First Nations territory. Cermaq is one of the largest fish farming companies in the world, with feedlots in Norway, Scotland, and Chile, as well as British Columbia. Locally Mainstream rears Atlantic salmon, which are not native to these waters.
Creative Salmon, although registered in Canada, is owned by foreign investors. It operates in the territory of Tla-o-qui-aht First Nations. Unlike most other companies in British Columbia, Creative farms Pacific chinook salmon.
The BC salmon farming industry has a long history of poor practices, which are exacerbated by poor government regulation. Regulation of fish farming in BC was transferred in 2011 from the provincial to the federal government. However the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) has conflicting mandates. On the one hand they are supposed to regulate the aquaculture industry, while on the other they are supposed to promote it. They seem to be leaning toward promotion to boost international trade, rather than regulation to protect wild fish stocks.
Throughout history, farming of carnivorous species such as salmon has never been done because it is more efficient to simply eat the meat you are feeding the carnivores. It takes 3 to 5 kg of wild-caught fish to produce 1 kg of farmed salmon. Thus farming of salmon could never be considered truly sustainable. In the short-term there are steps the industry could take to greatly reduce its harmful impacts on the environment.