Fish Farming Moratorium Lifted in British Columbia
VICTORIA, British Columbia, Canada, January 31, 2002 (ENS) - New environmental standards and practices will allow for lifting of the five year ban on new salmon aquaculture operations in British Columbia as of April 30, the British Columbia government announced today. The David Suzuki Foundation, a Vancouver based environmental group, said the move means "business at any cost comes first" and warned that the environment is being sacrificed.
The Suzuki Foundation supports "ecologically responsible" aquaculture that does not pollute or allow farmed species to escape, damaging habitat for native wild species.
The provincial government promised, "Improved and new policies for fish escapes, fish health, siting and relocations, fish waste and research and development have been developed" and will be finalized by April 30.
"The high operating standards proposed by government, along with improved practices, will protect the environment and allow the industry to expand in a sustainable and responsible manner," said John van Dongen, minister of agriculture, food and fisheries. "For more than four years, government has exhaustively reviewed the scientific work done on the salmon aquaculture issue."
Since October 1999, the government has worked toward implementing policies that will result in the most comprehensive regime of any jurisdiction in the world for managing the salmon aquaculture industry.
"Our government understands that British Columbians expect our environment to be protected and industry to be in full compliance with strict standards," said Joyce Murray, minister of water, land and air protection. "This industry will be managed in a responsible manner."
But Lynn Hunter, aquaculture specialist for the David Suzuki Foundation, is not satisfied with that assurance. "Premier [Gordon] Campbell made a choice today and it's not for wild salmon or for the health of B.C.'s coast," she said. "With this decision, it is clear that this government is only interested in pleasing a handful of multinational businesses without regard for the interests of all British Columbians and our environment."
McMullin estimates that B.C. salmon farmers will invest C$50 to $60 million annually over the next 10 years while generating as many 8,000 new, full time jobs, largely in coastal areas of the province.
"We intend to grow at a relatively modest rate of 10 new farms per year, which will roughly double the industry's current footprint within a decade," McMullin said. "Along the way we expect to invest $500 - $600 million in B.C.'s coastal communities, while building an industry that generates $2.4 billion in economic activity every year."
"As with forestry and mining, the government's move to performance based regulations that are monitored by industry is very worrisome," said Otto Langer, the foundation's director of marine conservation and a registered professional biologist who worked for the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans for over 30 years.
"This is a decision that will lead to the decline of the health of marine life on the B.C. coast," Langer said.
B.C. Minister of Sustainable Resource Management Stan Hagen, said, "This decision will provide the opportunity for careful and sustainable growth of aquaculture in our hard-hit coastal communities."
Applications for new aquaculture sites will be accepted after April 30, and are expected to take up to a year to process. Since aquaculture has a long production cycle, businesses need to make decisions now for production to begin by 2003.