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Salmon farm approved, geoduck proposal nixed

BRITISH COLUMBIA - The BC government has yet to formally respond to an all-party committee's recommendation in May that open-net pen salmon farming be phased out, but its actions since offer a strong hint about its stance.

Agriculture Minister Pat Bell yesterday issued another new salmon farm licence -- the fourth since the Special Legislative Committee on Sustainable Aquaculture reported on May 16.

Grieg Seafood B.C. Ltd. of Campbell River was granted approval for a new site in Nootka Sound, on the southwest shore of Gore Island in King Passage, about 20 minutes by boat from Gold River. It is the second site approved for Grieg in Nootka Sound since the report's release.

Bell also announced that he rejected a controversial application for a geoduck farm off Quadra Island in Open Bay. He also amended a salmon farm licence in Campbell River to allow the use of containment bags to raise smolt -- the first phase in a plan that could lead to the sort of commercial close-containment farming recommended by the aquaculture committee.

But the approval of another open-net pen farm in Nootka Sound drew the ire of environmentalists, who say there is overwhelming evidence such farms harm wild salmon and the ocean.

Bell said the application by Grieg made "good biological sense'' and has the support of the Mowachaht/Muchalaht First Nation.

"This is a site identified by the local First Nation as an area acceptable for fish farming. It also has extensive support from local communities. It makes a lot of sense to move forward."

Source: Times Colonist