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Where's the Fish-Farm Plan?

CANADA - If fish farms are now banned from the North Coast while the government reworks its approach to the industry, why are the same kinds of aquaculture operations expanding in the waters off Vancouver Island?

Agriculture Minister Pat Bell announced the North Coast ban last week, accepting the recommendation of a legislature committee that reported more than 10 months ago. At the same time, he approved the relocation of one chinook salmon farm near Tofino and a new Atlantic salmon farm in Nootka Sound, also on the Island's west coast.

Governments have grappled with the future of the salmon-farming industry for more than a decade, trying to balance the risks with the economic benefits and jobs. Studies have offered conflicting findings on the environmental risks.

Past industry assurances, like claims that escaped Atlantic salmon couldn't survive, were proven untrue. And problems the industry had denied, especially sea lice infestations, became increasing concerns.

At the same time, the industry generates some $240 million worth of product and jobs in communities that desperately need them.