Petition aims to prevent British Columbia salmon farm expansion

By

James Wright, Senior Editor

Published on
May 28, 2015

A petition signed by 108,842 people was presented in the British Columbia, Canada, legislature on Wednesday calling on the government to prevent salmon farms from expanding their marine farming operations.

More than 100 conservation organizations, First Nation representatives and businesses endorsed the petition, including the David Suzuki Foundation. Collectively they want the government to curb the salmon farming industry’s growth by withholding approvals for new farm sites and also prevent existing sites from growing in size.

Alexandra Morton, marine biologist and vocal aquaculture industry critic, said that the industry has not solved the threat of disease and sea lice infestations at salmon farms from impacting wild salmon populations migrating past the farms.

“Control of sea lice was the one issue I thought this industry could fix, but apparently not,” said Morton. “Furthermore, the recent federal court ruling on use of diseased salmon in salmon farms has raised significant questions that need to be answered before this industry can even think of growing."

“Millions of wild juvenile salmon are now migrating through an area that contains the highest density of fish farms on our coast, from Campbell River to Port Hardy,” added Karen Wristen, executive director of Living Oceans Society. “We are calling on Premier Clark to protect B.C.’s iconic wild salmon from federal recklessness and stop the planned expansion of this industry.”

The groups are not only calling on Provincial Premier Christy Clark to intervene, but are calling out Fisheries and Oceans Canada for not completing revised criteria for siting farms and for acting without the broad scientific and public consultation needed for such work. Yet DFO has permitted farms, like one at Sir Edmund Bay to triple their production despite elevated levels of sea lice the groups contend.

“We have asked DFO several times to share information on the current status of sea lice on fish farms in affected areas so that we can assess whether existing management strategies are working, but they have refused,” said John Werring, David Suzuki Foundation senior science and policy advisor. “Their failure to respond on an issue of such immense public importance is simply unacceptable.”

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