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Aquaculture Operators Seek Funding to Improve Bio-security Infrastructure

CANADA - It might be a long walk on a short wharf for aquaculture operators on the south coast seeking provincial help to build infrastructure to help prevent the spread of disease in farmed fish.

That is, at least, until there's a national aquaculture policy framework in place.

Correspondence obtained by Transcontinental Media under provincial freedom of information laws reveals there is concern among aquaculture operators on the province's south coast about finding appropriate funding programs to improve bio-security infrastructure, such as wharves, for farmed fish.

Currently, dead fish, dirty nets and other refuse comes ashore in the same area where clean nets go out.

One aquaculture operation uses the same wharf as the local walk-on coastalpassenger ferry service.
The Coast of Bays Corp. wrote provincial Fisheries Minister Tom Rideout on April 10, 2007, outlining the concerns.

"The whole point of requesting a specific, dedicated funding program for bio-security infrastructure is that existing programs do not meet industry/environment needs," the letter states, insisting that it would take four to six years to construct a wharf under existing guidelines.

The letter suggests it would take more than 20 years to carry out necessary infrastructure upgrades.

"If we are to avoid the ISA (infectious salmon anaemia) and provide a bio-secure environment, we simply do not have that kind of time.

"From a rural development point of view, infrastructure to establish a strong industrial base and ensure environmental stewardship must take precedence above all else."

On April 13, 2007, Rideout responded, suggesting the key to improving the situation was the establishment of an as-yet-unrealized aquaculture framework agreement with the federal government. But he warned them not to hold their breath.

"Such an agreement will not be in place in the very near future and we should make all efforts to utilize existing programming wherever it is available," Rideout said, adding that the industry also would have to play a role.

"Further, as in other sectors, one would expect the participation of the aquaculture sector in the construction and maintenance of such facilities."

"There must be a concerted effort between all users of existing wharves to implement bio-security protocols to mitigate health concerns.

"This effort must continue in the absence of new infrastructure."

A spokeswoman with the provincial Fisheries department said Friday that "we have processes in place to maximize bio-security and they are adequate form the perspective of aquaculture veterinarians."

The spokesperson said the province is working on improvements.

Source: The Western Star

Ellen Hardy

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