Re: Report from the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans about salmon farming in B.C.
The recently released report “Pacific salmon: Ensuring the long-term health of wild populations and associated fisheries” contains a section on conventional net pen salmon farming that made reference to numerous testimonies provided to the committee by the usual critics of the B.C. industry.
But much of this testimony again showed a high level of ignorance about the industry itself and about the regulatory regime in place for salmon farming in the Province.
A few examples:
– The Canadian Science Advisory Secretariat is a highly regarded institution that has served the country well for a long time. It is wrong for the salmon farming critics to suggest that members of the industry should not be involved in this process – who else knows more about the facts and figures around this industry?
– The critics suggest that DFO should not be an advocate for the salmon farming industry, while at the same time they are happy to see DFO promote the activities of sport fishers (like me) and commercial fishers (like many of my friends), whose main objective is to deliberately kill wild salmon.
– DFO is also criticized for not being transparent enough with respect to providing information about the salmon farming industry in B.C. A simple search on DFO’s web site shows a list of issues that the salmon farmers have to provide reports about – reports that are publicly available, such as:
1. Aquaculture Activities Regulations (AAR) drugs and pesticides
2. Monthly mortality by category, by facility (open data)
3. Quarterly average mortality by category, by zone (figure)
4. Fish health monitoring activities, number of carcasses sampled
5. Audit activities, fish health, sea lice, benthic (figures)
6. Fish health events, by facility, 2016-ongoing (open data)
7. Fish health events, annual (graph)
8. Mortality events, by facility, 2011-ongoing (open data)
9. Mortality events, annual (graph)
10. Fish Health audits, by facility, 2011-ongoing (open data)
11. Monthly sea lice abundance, by facility (open data)
12. DFO sea lice audits, by facility (open data)
13. Average sea lice abundance, by zone (graph)
14. Use of Antibacterials (graph)
15. Use of Anti-lice Therapeutants (graph)
16. DFO benthic audits, by facility (open data)
17. Industry benthic monitoring, by facility (open data)
18. Benthic performance, annual (graph)
19. Incidental catch, by facility (open data)
20. Marine mammal fatalities, annual (graph)
21. Marine mammal interactions, by facility (open data)
22. Escapes, by facility, 2011-ongoing (open data)
23. Escapes, annual (graph)
24. Atlantic Salmon Watch Program (open data)
25. Salmon transfers, 2015-ongoing (open data)
– Of particular interest to the Standing Committee should be the data provided with respect to the required routine monitoring and reporting – and auditing by DFO – of the condition of the sea bed underneath each salmon farm in B.C., considering the committee’s Recommendation 8, which states: “That Fisheries and Oceans Canada study the seabed under and near open-net aquaculture operations to determine if remediation will be necessary when those operations close.” One would think that the DFO Standing Committee on Fisheries would be aware of the current regulatory regime for salmon farming in B.C. that clearly stipulates what level of impact on the bottom of the ocean is acceptable, and what measures must be taken if this level is exceeded.