Harper govt's new salmon farm regs would open floodgates for waste dumping

Harper’s new fish farm laws would open floodgates to waste dumping

Haper govt's new salmon farm regs would open floodgates for waste dumping
The following is a letter by salmon farming critic and Common Sense Canadian contributor DC Reid to Prime Minister Stephen Harper on his government’s proposed gutting of aquaculture regulations, which would enable virtually unrestricted dumping of fish farm waste into our oceans. The public can comment on the proposed changes until October 22 by emailing: fpptr-rtppp@dfo-mpo.gc.ca 

Dear Stephen Harper et al,

New laws would enable fish farms to dump more waste, chemicals
Yardstick standing upright in waste layer below fish farm, up to 32 inch mark (Friends of Port Mouton Bay)

The people of BC do not want fish farms in our ocean anymore, so we do not want your Aquaculture Act that would give them the opportunity to dump everything they have into our pristine waters. More than 100,000 people have signed a petition against fish farms in BC.

The only people who want the old-tech, dinosaur fish farms in the waters of BC are a few federal and provincial employees and fish farms themselves. Fish farms only want to be in the water to use it as a free, open sewer. My estimate of the sewage damage in BC is $10.4 Billion that fish farms get away with but the cost comes to taxpayers. You will find the formula I used and a summary of 20,000 pages of fish farm environmental damage science on my site. You will find the links to the science that shows that fish farms put out more sewage than the entire human populations of many countries they operate in. This includes Scotland, and Norway itself. Norway is so polluted they had to dredge several kilometres of one inlet of fish farm sewage and put it on land.

Better technology exists

Of the 85,000 page views I have had in the three years that I have been posting, the most popular by far is the one on the 69 on-land fish farm systems I have found around the globe – comprising more than 8,000 actual on-land farms. People do not want fish farms in the ocean anymore. Marine Harvest, Cermaq and Grieg Seafood follow my blog daily  – they are followers who won’t use their own names – as 12,000 of the views are from Norway alone; that is 1 in 7. And look at the Nancy Greene Raine posts for the deficiencies in the current laws.

Farmed fish prompt health warnings

Fish farms like to say they operate under the strictest laws in the world – here and every other country they operate in, recently, Chile, Scotland and Norway. Norway is so polluted that the big story in the past year has been scientists and doctors warning Norwegians not to eat farmed fish because of the POPs, PCBs, dioxins and other organic chemicals that cause, among other things, cancer. But once fish farms say they operate under the strictest laws, they lobby behind the scenes for getting rid of them. Your Aquaculture Act is an example of this.

Gutting fish farm regulations

Other of your examples include the omnibus ‘budget’ bill of 2013 that gutted S-35 and -36 of the Fisheries Act, and the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, 2012. Among other things you fired 200 scientists, including those at the ocean sciences facility in Victoria. In addition, you will find a post on my site that the Royal Society of Canada scientists levelled a stinging indictment at you for your poor treatment of our three ocean coasts.

I have just finished a book by a federal DFO enforcement officer, Randy Nelson, who points out that enforcement funding is always a race to the bottom because of the Ottawa view of west coast enforcement.

What your Aquaculture Act does is create a race to the bottom of all the countries that produce farmed salmon because fish farms then deal with those countries and tell them they will have to take their jobs and revenue elsewhere. And, the BC industry’s only market, 85% of it, goes to the USA, but the parent companies of the BC industry have just had a 26% tariff lifted in the USA so Norway is now selling into the only market for BC farmed salmon – and the Norwegian fish farm industry is ten times the size of its BC operations. They will be putting their own Canadian operations out of business, because they are also setting up shop in the USA right now.
At the same time, Chile’s production has peaked since their 2008 crash due to ISA virus and most of it goes to the States. The BC industry is in peril from its own parent companies – right now. This has nothing to do with law, only economics.

No action on Cohen recommendations

You haven’t responded to the Cohen Commission that told you to eliminate DFO’s conflict with supporting fish farms and get on with saving wild salmon. The Williams review of the mid-90s and the 1982 Pearse Commission also made environmental recommendations to DFO. Unheeded.

Alienating British Columbians with onslaught of projects

Harper et al, you are forcing BC away from the rest of Canada. At the same time your fish farms are destroying our ocean and you want to make the weak laws even weaker, you are backing the Enbridge Pipeline and the Kinder Morgan Pipeline. There is the shipping of USA coal through BC and the Site C dam is current, along with LNG and fracking. The last two are provincial issues, but all of these are happening at the same time and your conservative government is taking the hit in BC. You undoubtedly know that your current majority is slim and balance of power is in BC.

BC nets few jobs from aquaculture

Just so that you know, fish farms are not about jobs and revenue. They and DFO like to claim that employment is 6,000 and revenue is $800 million. These figures are not true. The BC Stats report shows that fish farming is stagnant and all of aquaculture contributes only $61.9 Million to GDP, while sport fishing, processing, and commercial contribute 90%, more than $600 million.

These figures were paid for by DFO and its name is on the document, but because it didn’t like the figures, it took the 1,700 multiplier job figure for fish farms and inflated it 250% to 3,900 recently. This is simply not true. The actual employment is only 795 jobs. That is all there really are. You can find on the Marine Harvest site, for example, that it only has 6,000 staff world wide. As it operates in 22 countries, this means about 270 staff per country. As I have said, the real employment figure in BC is a small 795 jobs, that is all.

British Columbians fed up with fish farms

BC does not want fish farms anymore; they cause too much damage and the net economic effect is negative. Fish farms jobs don’t add anything, they just replace existing jobs. The commercial sector has lost the same number of jobs that BC stats says are the fish farm multiplier numbers of 1,700. Also on my site you will find the science that shows that fish farms result in a 50% decline in wild salmon numbers around the world. This includes BC and the indicator stream used on Vancouver Island, Black Creek, is in John Duncan’s riding.

DC (Dennis) Reid

Send your feedback to the Harper Government on its proposed changes to aquaculture regulations by October 22 by emailing: fpptr-rtppp@dfo-mpo.gc.ca 


About DC Reid

DC is a poet, novelist, sport fishing and fisheries policy writer, who has won numerous awards over the years. His www.fishfarmnews.blogspot.com houses some 15,000 pages of science on the environmental damage caused by open-net fish farms in BC and around the world. He reads up to 100 pages of global fish farm news every week to stay informed. DC won the Art Downs Award for 2012 for sustained, outstanding writing on environmental issues with respect to fish farms. The award was based on 10 columns on fish farm issues in the Times Colonist newspaper, three submissions to the Cohen Commission on Fraser sockeye and his blog, fishfarmnews.blogspot.com.

8 thoughts on “Harper’s new fish farm laws would open floodgates to waste dumping

  1. Friends do not let friends eat farmed salmon. Without drugs all it is all grey mushy matter. Farmed salmon sucks! It is not sustainable. WTF?

  2. Letter sent to Harper however doubt they’ll even tally the for and against as they unfortunately don’t give a damn what the public thinks. Hopefully everyone remembers this when election time rolls around next year.

  3. Larry,
    Thank you for sharing your thoughts ideas and researched information about international ocean based fish farms. The negative enviromental impacts and internal fish farm virus that require antibiotics use have certainly been a serious cobcern to producers and consumers,

    I strongly agree with you that the current federal and provincial governments’ refusal to acknowledge ocean based fish farms’ severe cumulative ecological damage is very troublesome.

    Our governments do not acknowledge the mutual benefit of land based fish farms such the one being operated successully in Northern Vancouver Island by the Namgis First Nations. This closed system operation produces quality farm salmon , provides employment and does not cause cumulative ocean pollution. What a “Win Win!” system that should be used as an implementation model to be require by all Fish Farmer operating on our B.C. Coast legislation, Shift to this model should be a firm requirement within two years with no exceptions.

    Similarly, the Federal Government should assure a commitment to implement the Cohen Commission recommendation on Fish Farms. Thus federal funding should be provided to assist the fish farm industry in making its transition to a non- polluting land based model like the Namgis First Nations as a workable “Win Win!” model to follow..

    1. Yes, that’s a big problem too, Larry. I don’t follow your logic though…Clearly not all Canadians agree with our government’s policies – which is the point of this story.

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