70 percent of fish processing plants in British Columbia found out of compliance with Canadian laws

Published on
July 10, 2018

More than 70 percent of the fish processing plants recently inspected by the Canadian Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy were found out of compliance with environmental regulations.

The ministry carried out an audit of more than 30 fish processing plants in response to public outcry over a video showing an open pipe spewing bloody fluid from a fish processing plant into the Salish Sea in British Columbia, Canada. The video – shot by a spokesperson for Wild First, a Canadian non-governmental organization that opposes open net-pen salmon fishing – shows waste colored a bright, almost fluorescent red, pouring out of an underwater pipe connected to a farmed Atlantic salmon processing facility located in Campbell River, British Columbia, owned by the Brown’s Bay Packing Co.

The video is a follow-up to a similar video recorded in December 2017, also shot by the same videographer, who claims that the waste has been spewing consistently since last winter.  Wild First claims the fluid being emitted into the ocean is harmful to native fish. Brown’s Bay Packing claims that the waste is disinfected and not harmful to wildlife. 

Canada Minister of Environment and Climate Change Strategy George Heyman said the larger audit shows Canada’s fish processing industry must step up to follow the law and protect the marine environment.

“This audit clearly tells us more work needs to be done to ensure our coastal waterways are safe for all wild fish stocks,” George Heyman, minister of Environment and Climate Change Strategy said. “The industry has been largely operating under an outdated permitting regime, going back several decades. We are taking immediate steps to ensure permits are updated and strengthened at fish processing facilities throughout B.C.”

The audit comes after British Columbia’s southerly neighbor, Washington state, passed a law to ban net-pen salmon farming in March 2018. As a result of the new law, all existing farming operations in the state will be phased out by 2025.

Photo courtesy of Tavish Campbell

Reporting from Seattle, Washington, U.S.A.

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