Kill wild fish to protect farmed fish? I don’t think so
The proposed regulation for the aquaculture industry misses the mark by a mile (well, a kilometre) – and what is the mark you may well ask? The Minister of Fisheries and Oceans has a duty to protect wild fish, fish habitat and Canadian fisheries waters from the negative impact of aquaculture. Why is she abdicating this sacred responsibility to the people of Canada and the environment?
Why is the Minister promoting a regulation that makes it easier for the fish farmers to continue polluting? Why is the Minister proposing to hand over to the President of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, a decision only she should make, if anyone does – a decision to kill wild fish to protect farmed fish?
The government of the day spent over $30 million dollars on the Cohen Commission –Inquiry into the Decline of Sockeye Salmon in the Fraser River. Arguably its most important recommendation was that DFO must step away from promoting salmon farming and act in accordance with its paramount regulatory objective to conserve wild fish. This proposed regulation flies in the face of Justice Cohen’s recommendations.
Friends of the Earth and Conservation Council of New Brunswick have taken an unusual step in submitting a re-draft of the proposed Aquaculture Activities Regulation. We offer the DFO folks but also the Department of Justice folks a proposed regulation that would control the impact of aquaculture on wild fish, fish habitat and Canadian fisheries waters.
The open-pen net aquaculture industry profits from their use of our common resource, the ocean, without having to compensate for its impacts including disease and parasite outbreaks, pollution of the ocean floor, displacement and killing of other creatures and loss of livelihoods that depend on healthy wild populations and their environment. Why should they not be required to minimize their environmental impact, pay for their pollution and be required to clean it up – all measures that would effectively persuade the industry into taking a transformative step away from open-pen nets to land- based closed containment operations. Certainly, it would level the playing field with the economics of closed containment operations.
And finally, in the words of our colleague, independent biologist, Alexandra Morton, “An industry that refuses to deal with its manure, needs to release chemicals that kill fish and has asked the government to kill wild fish does not belong in Canada’s most valuable fishing grounds.”