Your candidates for the May 14 election.

Atlantic salmon net pens; For or against?

The Mirror asked the three North Island candidates: Fish farming, specifically raising Atlantic salmon in net pens, are you for or against?

The provincial election is on Tuesday, May 14. This week, the Mirror asked the three North Island candidates:  Fish farming, specifically raising Atlantic salmon in net pens, are you for or against?

 

Bob Bray

BC Conservatives

 

I am in favour of farming Atlantic salmon in net pens.

I regret that there are not enough wild salmon to provide as many jobs as formerly. There are not even enough wild salmon to satisfy worldwide food demand for fish.

The risk of Atlantic salmon breeding in our waters has been demonstrated to be non-existent. Years ago, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, in a weird experiment, released 1.7 million Atlantic salmon fry over several seasons, and adult Atlantic salmon were nowhere to be seen swimming freely, then or now.

The fish farm industry is much improved in recent years with Norwegian technology being utilized. The number of jobs provided by this industry has a noticeably good impact on communities in our North Island electoral district.

 

Nick Facey

BC Liberals

 

Salmon aquaculture is a very important sector in British Columbia and particularly in the North Island area.

It employs thousands of people, creates opportunities for First Nations communities, and creates an environment for a strong network of secondary supply businesses that keep our economy strong, growing and stable.

That said, aquaculture can only be supported knowing that it is being done responsibly.

I believe that the extensive work done by the industry and the stringent regulations developed by the federal and provincial governments meet that standard.

The BC Liberal government has already voiced its support of the Cohen Commission recommendations that would see a review of siting regulations, additional research in the Discovery Islands and a moratorium on new sites in that area; and I stand by that commitment.

With good management and strong oversight, I believe aquaculture will continue to be an important part of the North Island’s future.

Last week I was able to visit the Marine Harvest Canada processing plant in Port Hardy and it is clear how important a facility of that size is for the community.

I’ve also been able to tour salmon farms and hatcheries myself and meet the people who proudly take care of their fish.

It represents many jobs – good jobs – so ensuring that this sector is sustainable is important to our riding.

 

Claire Trevena,

BC NDP

 

The BC NDP has explicitly stated that it is strongly in favour of implementing the recommendations of the Cohen Commission Report and is committed to working to achieve their implementation.

This report, exploring the decline of sockeye in the Fraser River, was wide-ranging and comprehensive in its recommendations.

It must be remembered that, as a consequence of a legal challenge brought in 2009, the BC Supreme Court ruled that the federal government has exclusive jurisdiction for open-net aquaculture. This ruling severely limits the province’s ability to regulate in this area.

We are disappointed Fisheries and Oceans Canada has not moved promptly to implement Justice Cohen’s recommendations.

Last May, my party stated that we are firmly committed to working with and, if necessary, pressuring Fisheries to act if we form the government.

The recommendations include: using the precautionary principle to re-evaluate risk and mitigation measures for salmon farms in the Discovery Islands including closing farms that pose a serious risk to migrating salmon; limiting salmon farm production and licenses; and, maintaining the existing moratorium on new fish farm licenses on the North Coast.

We are watching with interest the development of land-based, closed containment fish farm projects in the North Island, projects that I support.

An area where the province does have jurisdiction is renewing leases for the siting of fish farms.

Unfortunately, the BC Liberals have not developed either the capacity nor clear policy directives to handle this responsibility.

The BC NDP will develop them if we form the government.