Bi-coastal delegation delivers salmon farm reform message to Ottawa
Living Oceans Executive Director Karen Wristen travelled to Ottawa in March to find out just what the government’s intentions are for implementing the Cohen Commission recommendations. She was part of a delegation comprised of members from the Coastal Alliance for Aquaculture Reform (CAAR) and the Atlantic Coalition for Aquaculture Reform (ACAR). While she was there, the long-awaited Fisheries and Oceans Standing Committee report on closed containment technology was released to Parliament.
“The report was stronger than we’d feared it might be,” said Karen. “It points the way for reform of Canada’s salmon aquaculture industry along the lines we’ve always advocated.”
The Committee acknowledged that closed containment is viable and made specific recommendations for government to invest in the new technology. It fell short of the one measure desperately needed by wild fish and crustaceans on both coasts: No new net-pen sites while closed containment pilots prove themselves. Still, the report contained much for which we have to thank the notable champions of wild fish, MPs Fin Donnelly and Lawrence MacAulay.
During her time in Canada’s capital, Karen and our partners met with MPs representing the four major political parties. The delegation was well received despite the anti-environmentalist rhetoric that has been flying around Ottawa lately. Randy Kamp, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans was cautiously optimistic that we might see movement on some of our requests, which included:
- That DFO be relieved of its conflicting mandate to promote salmon farming and farmed salmon so that it can focus on protection of wild fish
- That a moratorium be placed on any new salmon farm net-cage licenses and freeze existing net-pen production in B.C.’s Wild Salmon Narrows as per Justice Cohen’s recommendations
- That the government should make farm fish health data available to researchers and publish DFO research findings.
Our delegation also, of course, stressed that the government should require the industry to move to closed containment and away from open net-pens. It remains to be seen how they will respond to the Standing Committee’s report, which suggested the same course.
The CAAR/ACAR mission also met with Leader of the Opposition, Thomas Mulcair and Green Party leader, Elizabeth May. Both approve of implementing the Cohen Commission recommendations and offered support for efforts to move this issue forward in Parliament.