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BC Pacific Salmon Forum Releases Its Interim Report on Wild and Farmed Salmon

CANADA - The BC Pacific Salmon Forum today released its interim recommendations to the Government of British Columbia regarding wild and farmed salmon.

The Forum is a citizen body appointed by the Province in 2005 to research and recommend how wild and farmed salmon could be managed sustainably and in a way that will deliver maximum benefits to BC coastal communities.

A summary of Interim Report highlights:

  1. The main threats to wild salmon are changes in ocean productivity and in the capacity of watersheds to support wild salmon. A scientific consensus on the role of sea lice in interactions between salmon farms and wild salmon populations has yet to be reached and will be further informed by the final results of the Forum's research program toward the end of 2008.

  2. Since proper functioning watersheds make good economic and cultural sense, and since there is little coordination of the efforts of the three levels of government and the governments of various First Nations, the Forum recommends that all four levels of government (including First Nations) begin coordinating their decision-making in watersheds.

    • We recommend that this concept be tested as pilot projects in several watersheds.

    • All levels of government, including First Nations, must be engaged in improving governance structures for maintaining functioning ecology for salmon in watersheds.

    • There is no independent assessment of the cumulative effects of all these decisions on the viability of watershed ecosystems or on their capacity to continue to support wild salmon populations.

    • We recommended that the Province establish a single, independent authority that reports publicly to monitor cumulative impacts on ecosystem indicators within marine and watershed ecosystems. It would look at ecosystem indicators such as water temperatures, flow regimes, flood potential, stream bank vegetation structure, and so forth.

  3. The Forum supports the establishment of a single research body to pool expertise and funding from the Federal and Provincial governments, First Nations, industry and conservation groups and others to advance research based on ecosystem based principles.

    • Research results must be effectively communicated in plain language.

    • Research funding needs to continue because ecosystems are complex and the Forum will not be able to address all areas of research.

  4. Closed containment is an unproven approach to salmon farming that requires a scientific, technical and economic analysis pursued without delay, followed by extensive piloting, before it can be considered as a public policy requirement for the industry.

  5. The salmon farming industry should share information with the public consistent with its use of a public resource.

    • The Forum is currently in active discussion with industry and scientists to ensure that the information that is required to adequately inform and analyze research is available.

  6. Internationally recognized, independent, third-party certification of wild and farmed salmon should be supported.

    • This is being recommended to help build public trust.

  7. The Forum is asking that there be no net increase in farmed salmon production in the Broughton Archipelago until it has reported on its science program in the fall of 2008.

    • The Province should consider measures for the Broughton, under Provincial legislation, to engage all stakeholders in guiding the sustainability of wild and farmed salmon in this area.

  8. Decisions regarding future development of salmon farming outside the Broughton should be based on scientific consensus within each ecological area.

    • Without more scientific consensus on the effect of salmon aquaculture on wild salmon, broad public acceptance of more salmon farming is unlikely to occur.

    • To support an informed dialogue regarding the possibility of salmon aquaculture on the North Coast, the results of both North Coast baseline research and Broughton research must be communicated in plain language to all interested parties.

To view the full text of the Forum's Interim Report, please click here