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Aquaculture Regulations 'Inadequate'

BRITISH COLUMBIA, CANADA - The tourist association says that new regulations for the aquaculture industry do not go far enough to protect wild salmon stocks with respect to sea lice.

The BC Wilderness Tourism Association is calling on the federal government to revise a new set of aquaculture regulations in order to protect wild salmon stocks, reports Comox Valley Record.

Last week, Fisheries and Oceans Canada assumed responsibility for aquaculture in British Columbia (B.C.)

The Cumberland-based association, in conjunction with other environmental groups, claims the new Conditions of Licence are inadequate in terms of sea lice management, monitoring and impacts to juvenile wild salmon. The group has communicated its concerns in writing to DFO Minister, Gail Shea.

Among other requests, it is asking for greater transparency on monitoring programs and salmon farming operations.

"Stronger measures need to be in place to protect wild salmon runs," BCWTA president Brian Gunn said in a news release.

He said finfish aquaculture regulations do not address the impacts of open net cage salmon farms. There are, for instance, no requirements to monitor the health of juvenile wild salmon for impacts due to disease and sea lice around farms during their out migration.

Mr Gunn added: "We desperately need government to stand up and take the protection of wild salmon seriously. The health and survival of wild salmon, and the people, economies and environment on the West Coast that depend on them, are counting on the federal government."

According to Comox Valley Record, the Comox-based B.C. Shellfish Growers Association and the Campbell River-based B.C. Salmon Farmers Association both applauded the move to have DFO oversee the provincial aquaculture industry. According to the former, at least half the shellfish grown in B.C. comes from Baynes Sound.

DFO spokesperson, Andrew Thomson, director of aquaculture management for the Pacific region, said: "The trigger level set for action in terms of the number of motile lice per fish was previously used by the provincial licensing regime.

"We've adopted that trigger level initially as we move forward in our licensing regime. The federal government has taken measures to strengthen the actions required when that trigger level is reached. We certainly have strengthened our conditions once that trigger is met."

In terms of a wild salmon monitoring program, Mr Thomson said there are some licensed sites that have, and will continue to operate, such programmes.

As for transparency, he added: "This is very much in line with exactly what the department is committed to doing with regard to aquaculture."

DFO has a number of reporting requirements regarding fish health and performance. Information will be made public once web sites and reporting structures are up and running.

As of last month, DFO had planned to add roughly 22 new staff members to the Campbell River area, 13 in Nanaimo and eight in Courtenay, concludes the report in Comox Valley Record.

Further Reading

- Go to our previous news item on this story by clicking here.

the Fish Site Editor

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