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North Coast Farm Ban Is Supported

BRITISH COLUMBIA - Agriculture Minister Pat Bell has announced a moratorium on any finfish farms north of Aristazabal Island, 150 kilometres south of the mouth of the Skeena River.

The decision effectively makes BC’s North Coast a no-go area for fish farms for the time being. Aquaculture opponents, who say the operations pose risks to the environment and wild fish, are pleased with the ruling.

However, the government has announced the approval of two finfish-farm licences and one scallop-farm licence, all on the South Coast.

According to reports on news service Global BC, the decision to suspend fish farms on the north coast was hailed by the NDP and environmentalists as significant. Bell agreed.

“This is in response to an urgency around ensuring that (area) that has not had finfish aquaculture is protected until we figure out how to move forward with a long-term vision for aquaculture in the province,” the minister said. “This is not something that I took lightly.”

The move comes 10 months after an all-party committee of the legislature proposed a North Coast moratorium, among other steps.

The BC Salmon Farmers Association has tentatively welcomed the new regulations.

With respect to the North Coast Moratorium it said that there are currently no finfish farms operating in the area and no active applications on file. It said that the announcement did not result in any change on the coast but it did give the government, First Nations, industry and other stakeholders an additional opportunity to work together to further develop a provincial aquaculture plan and improve sustainability of the region's aquaculture businesses.

New sites

BCSFA says that the approval for one new finfish license and an application for a replacement site is good news for the industry.

Grieg Seafood earned approval for one new site in Nootka Sound. This site is located in an area designated as acceptable for aquaculture in the Nootka Sound Coastal Land-use Plan and is the last of six sites planned for the area. It allows four sites to be operational while two are fallowed - an important attribute of sustainable farming.

The replacement site - for the Creative Salmon Company - has secured regulatory approval to grow Chinook in the northeast corner of Warne Island in Tofino Inlet. The site lies within the traditional territory of the Tla-o-qui-aht First Nations, who have provided letters of support for the application.

BCSFA has a strong and very supportive relationship with First Nations Communities. It is eager to co-operate and work with communities to ensure sustainable farming practices.

 

View the Global BC story by clicking here.

Ellen Hardy

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