Hundreds call for Fish Farm Moratorium

Continued moratorium on salmon farms needed

(Nanaimo, July 22, 1997) – In an unprecedented act of citizen opposition to salmon netcage expansion in British Columbia, hundreds of organizations and individuals today signed on to a letter calling upon Premier Glen Clark and the provincial Cabinet to retain the moratorium on fish farm development until a lengthy list of environmental and social concerns have been addressed.

One hundred and eight (108) organizations and over two hundred and fifty (250) individuals have signed on to the letter to Premier Clark and his Cabinet, urging them to “do the right thing for the people and wild salmon of this province”. [Published in the July 22nd edition of the TIMES COLONIST — provincial capital newspaper].

The signatories note concerns about the potential for disease transfer to wild salmon, impacts of escaped farm fish, killing and harassment of marine mammals, pollution from fish farms, risks to public health from the use of antibiotics in farmed fish, siting of farms in environmentally sensitive areas, and the effects of salmon farms on First Nations, fishers, recreationalists and coastal communities.

According to spokesperson Laurie MacBride of the Georgia Strait Alliance, the signatories believe that salmon farming, as currently practiced, poses an unacceptable risk to wild salmon and other marine life.

“We believe that current initiatives being taken by government of BC to protect, enhance and restore wild salmon could be compromised if the adverse impacts and risks of salmon farming are not effectively addressed,” said MacBride. “Our Pacific salmon stocks – and the rest of the marine ecosystem – must be protected.”

The signatories called on Clark and the BC government to:

  • Require replacement of netcages with closed containment systems by the year 2000;
  • Prohibit the use of Atlantic Salmon;
  • Immediately ban the use of acoustic deterrent devices, explosives, firearms and underwater traps for predator control;
  • Ensure that no farms are on or near environmentally senstive areas including wild fish migration routes, spawning and rearing areas, salmon streams and estuaries, seal haul-outs and shellfish beaches;
  • Require immediate relocation of existing farms that are on or near environmentally sensitive areas;
  • Require mandatory labeling of farmed fish;
  • Require mandatory reporting of farmed fish escapes, disease outbreaks and drug use at all fish farms;
  • Ban the use of night lights (pit-lamping), except those required for navigational safety;
  • Remove aquaculture from the Farm Practices Protection (Right to Farm) Act;
  • Require mandatory referral to First Nations for all applications impacting First Nations’ communities;
  • Replace existing guidelines with effective, enforceable regulations;
  • Initiate a mandatory resource rent or levy for full cost recovery;
  • Require fish farms to carry insurance to cover costs of full ecological restoration for damages they have caused;
  • Immediately prohibit lake-rearing;
  • Eliminate the use of fish that is suitable for human consumption as the primary feed for farmed salmon; and
  • Retain the current moratorium on new salmon farm licenses until all of the above changes are in place.

The Environmental Assessment Office has just completed an 11-month Salmon Aquaculture Review, with the final report expected to be released within days. The provincial government will be forced to decide on whether or not to lift the current moratorium on salmon farms. The industry has been pushing for the moratorium to be lifted and is planning a major coastal expansion if it gets a green light.

Notable individuals who have signed the letter include: scientist Dr. David Suzuki, artist Robert Bateman, whale researcher Alexandra Morton, author Susan Musgrave, professor Michael MíGonigle, publisher Howard White, naturalist Bristol Foster, a number of prominent academics and many others.

Organizations signing on include a broad range of First Nations, tribal councils and aboriginal fisheries commisions; a number of commercial fishing industry groups (including several locals of the Fishermensí Union, the Pacific Trollers Association, Northern Gillnetters Association and others); kayak operators and guides; environmental groups (including the Georgia Strait Alliance, Wild Fish First Society, Sierra Legal Defence Fund, David Suzuki Foundation, Greenpeace, Sierra Club of BC and others); unions and many more.