The federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) is assigning six new vessels to monitor fish farming activity on the West Coast and five will be stationed in Campbell River.
In Campbell River on Monday Fisheries and Oceans Minister Keith Ashfield said the BC-built vessels will all be dedicated to the BC Aquaculture Regulatory Program.
Three of the vessels — the Salmon Bay, the Sturgeon Bay and the Oyster Bay — will conduct fish health management inspections, sea lice audits, stream surveys, ocean floor sampling and fish farm inspections.
The other three vessels — the MacLeod Bay, the Weaver Bay and the Maz Bay — will transport fisheries officers as they perform routine and surprise site inspections and enforce aquaculture regulations.
The minister said: “As the majority of aquaculture operations are located along the coast of Vancouver Island and in the mainland inlets and most are inaccessible by car, ensuring DFO staff are able to move freely on the water is an important aspect of regulating the aquaculture industry in BC.
“The new vessels will allow fisheries officers to respond quickly to events or public reports of potential concerns at farm sites, while staff on the aquaculture management vessels can deploy tethered underwater vehicles for site inspections and conduct analyze benthic (ocean bottom) sampling.”
The enforcement vessels were named in honour of Ronald MacLeod, a retired DFO employee and an Officer of the Order of Canada; fisheries officer Ken Weaver who died in a plane crash in 1948; and, retired fisheries office Max Tscharre.
In December 2010 DFO assumed responsibility for the regulation of BC’s aquaculture sector including the licensing of marine finfish, shellfish and freshwater aquaculture sites.