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Federal Govt. Quietly Hands over Fish Farm Management

BRITISH COLUMBIA, CANADA - Coastal fish farms are to be managed by Fisheries and Oceans Canada rather than the federal government.

The provincial government will no longer be responsible for managing fish farms on the coast, reports Prince Rupert Daily News.

The switch in authority to the Fisheries and Oceans Canada was welcomed by environmentalists and North Coast politicians alike, although concern then shifted to the effect this would have on the North Cost moratorium on fish farms. According to the federal government, that will not be affected because the moratorium is still a provincial jurisdiction.

"The moratorium was placed under the BC Land Act and there is no impact from the Morton decision to the BC Land Act," said DFO media relations representative, Andrew Thomson.

The provincial government continues to hold the right to issue land tenures, which come under the B.C. Land Act.

According to Mr Thomson, the placement of an aquaculture facility requires land tenure – or essentially a chunk of seabed. "That portion of any regulation of aquaculture remains the same," he said.

Much was made of the low-key nature of the transfer. There was no public announcement made and environmental stakeholders such as Living Oceans Society (LOS) felt the provincial government was trying evade attention to the issue as they made the final decision on transferring responsibilities.

"The Province is abiding by Justice Hinkson's decision and working to transfer jurisdictional responsibility for marine finfish aquaculture to the federal government by the February 2010 deadline," explained Robin Platts, a media relations representative for the Ministry of Agriculture and Lands.

"The court ruled the province would retain its role as regulator of marine finfish aquaculture during the transition period. We are simply confirming that we will comply with the court's ruling."

Mr Platts told Prince Rupert Daily News that he agreed with Mr Thomson's comment- that the North Coast moratorium would remain in place for the foreseeable future because the province still holds the final decision on maintaining or lifting the temporary ban.

"The moratorium will stay in place, under an Environmental Land Use Act order. The province will not issue tenures under the Land Act while the moratorium is in place," confirmed Mr Platts.

LOS claimed that up until the unannounced transfer was decided upon, the province and the federal government were working on a suitable relationship to share regulation over the industry.

Mr Platts said that was because, in affect, the province would continue to have some say on the acceptance of such decisions.

He said: "The court decision upheld the Province's right to provide land tenure for aquaculture operations under the Land Act, and the provincial government will continue to fulfill its obligations as manager of provincial land."

Prince Rupert Daily News reports that two significant approvals are needed for salmon farming: a land tenure granted by the Province and an operational licence that will now be issued by the federal government. Of necessity, the Province and federal government will have to maintain a working relationship regarding such approvals.

the Fish Site Editor

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