Federal government not protecting wild salmon: Blaney

North Island-Powell River MP says government must be “held account

NDP MP Rachel Blaney says federal authorities aren’t going far enough to protect wild salmon stocks and that Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) needs to address issues raised by the federal environment commissioner.

“It’s really important that DFO be held to account,” said Blaney during a conference call with reporters. “I’ve called on the minister to please come forward and start dealing with that.”

Her comments follow new provincial regulations that require assurances from the federal government for salmon farms to remain in B.C. coastal waters.

READ MORE: First Nations, conservationists and industry react to fish farm regulations

Under a provision in the new regulations, which take effect in 2022, fish farms operators will have to convince DFO “that their operations will not adversely impact wild salmon stocks” before receiving a tenure license from the province.

But Blaney, who represents North Island-Powell River, suggested that the federal government has a poor track record on fish farms.

She pointed to a report released by the federal environment commissioner earlier this year that said “key elements were missing” from the department’s efforts to reduce the spread of diseases and parasites from farmed salmon.

READ MORE: B.C. sets deadline for Indigenous salmon farm consent

She added that DFO staff are “working very hard but the resources that they need are simply not there.”

Blaney also said the federal government should act on recommendations of the Cohen Commission, which examined the decline of sockeye salmon in the Fraser River.

The federal government said last year that it had implemented 64 of the 75 recommendations contained in the commission’s 2012 report.

Blaney also argued in favour of land-based fish farms, saying the industry is moving towards that mode of aquaculture in countries around the world.

She said she wants to see “more meaningful conversations to protect those jobs and keep this industry in B.C.”

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