Province sanctions two new aquaculture licences

The Fish Site
by The Fish Site
3 September 2007, at 1:00am

VICTORIA - The Ministry of Agriculture and Lands has issued a new finfish aquaculture licence to Grieg Seafood for a site in Nootka Sound.

The licence applies to a site on the southwest shore of Gore Island, King Passage. In a separate statutory approval, the ministry has also approved Crown land tenure for this site.

The aquaculture site is within the asserted traditional territory of the Mowachaht/Muchalaht First Nation (MMFN). The land tenure and aquaculture application were referred to the MMFN for consideration and input. This approval is consistent with the outcome of discussions held between the Province and the MMFN.

Numerous other parties were consulted on this application, including: the Canadian Coast Guard, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, the Ministry of Environment, the Ministry of Forests and Range, the Comox-Strathcona Regional District, Archaeo Research Ltd and the Friends of Clayoquot Sound. The decision is based on the technical merits of the application, the appropriateness of the site and the consultation records. The original application for Gore Island was received in April 2003.

Middle Bay also approved
In a separate decision, the ministry has approved an amendment to Middle Bay Limited Partnership’s previously approved plan for solid-wall fish containment structures and a waste recovery system near Campbell River. The amendment allows the company to develop other closed containment technology with its general partner, Agrimarine Industries Ltd.

The Middle Bay facility will be located on an existing Crown land tenure approved for aquaculture. Two phases are planned for amendments to the management plan. Phase one, already approved, involves the installation and operation of the containment bag as a smolt entry system. The containment bag is flexible and made of heavy polyester.

Phase two, which involves installation and operation of grow-out containers, has yet to be fully developed or approved. It will require further assessment and First Nations consultation. The two phase approach allows industry to move forward on the development of closed containment technology.

In another decision, the minister has rejected an application from Discovery Diving Ltd. for geoduck aquaculture in Open Bay off Quadra Island. Following a comprehensive biological review, public, stakeholder and First Nations consultations the ministry concluded sub tidal geoduck aquaculture is not best suited to this the site.

Located in an area used for recreational moorage, pleasure boat anchorage and recreational shellfish harvesting, the site is also highly exposed to southeast winter storms. The substrate on the ocean floor is also less than ideal for growing geoduck.

The ministry is currently reviewing the recommendations from the Special Legislative Committee on Sustainable Aquaculture, which, combined with recommendations from the Pacific Salmon Forum may ultimately lead to policy changes as part of the Provincial Aquaculture Strategy.

All decisions on Aquaculture licenses in British Columbia take into account the following principles: fairness; transparency; efficiency; accountability; protection of public health and safety; protection of the environment; and sustainable economic development.