In November 2019, on an obscure Fisheries and Oceans Canada web page, we noticed the federal government was accepting public input on an Aquaculture Act. It was clear they weren’t going to advertise it broadly and we feared that if we didn’t let people know about it, little public input would feed into the process (and the new law).
We encouraged our supporters to submit comments online and we received an overwhelming response! Over 2000 comments were emailed before the December 21 deadline!
Some background on the Aquaculture Act. We know from evidence revealed in the Cohen Commission of Inquiry into the Decline of Sockeye Salmon in the Fraser River, the fish farm industry has lobbied the federal government for a stand-alone Aquaculture Act since at least 2011.
“Thousands of us on this coast are aware that the ‘Aquaculture Act’ has been designed by the industry to enable them to conduct their business with minimum regulations and interference with their practices, already fraught with pollution, oxygen depletion, cage failures and escapes, disease, sea lice, pesticides, disease and decimation of wild Pacific and Atlantic salmon.” – Fred Giffin, Hantsport, Nova Scotia
Like many of the people who made submissions, we are pretty concerned about industry and government drafting a new law without the input of Canadians who care about wild salmon.
“I strongly feel that all net pen salmon farming in Canada, should be removed from the ocean including all operations on the Atlantic coast.” – Andrew Turner, Bloomfield, New Brunswick
Hard working people whose livelihoods depend on wild salmon are concerned about the impacts of fish farms on wild fish.
“As a sport fishing guide for the last 14 seasons I depend on the continued survival of our local salmon. My young family depends on them for survival. We have such a special place on this Earth and we need to be the protectors of it. Science is clearly showing over and over that these open net fish farms are extremely detrimental to local salmon populations.” – Raiden Bresch, Comox, B.C.
“As a third generation fly fishing guide, I base my year’s income on ability to catch and release wild salmon, trout and steelhead. All which have been negatively impacted by aquaculture, and whose population seem to be steadily shrinking each year. In large part, these aquaculture facilities aren’t even Canadian owned. Shameful waste and disregard for life that’s been allowed to go on for far too long. Please put an end to this.” – Michael Mclean, Brackendale, B.C.
We heard from Indigenous people working to defend wild salmon from the threats of salmon farms and from people who witness fish farm operations first hand.
“The Dept. of Fisheries and Oceans has a mandate to protect wild salmon but recent court cases in BC have shown DFO does not understand its responsibilities nor the legal concept of the precautionary principle. DFO has put the interests of the aquaculture industry over wild salmon. Despite the recommendations from the Cohen Commission, recent federal and several court cases, DFO has failed to protect this keystone species.” – Kelly Speck, Alert Bay, B.C.
“I am a resident of the Discovery Islands, where open net salmon farms have impacted local waters and important salmon runs since the mid 1980s. We have seen the dead ocean ecosystem below fish farms; we have watched entrapped birds suffer and die; we have seen seals and sea lions shot, injured and killed because they were innocently lured by an unsecured food supply; we have watched attempts to protect penned salmon with antibiotics and pesticides administered in open ocean waters. We’ve seen huge fish die-offs and illegal dumping of dead fish; migrating juvenile fish infected with sea lice; processing plants dumping raw bloody contaminated waste into the ocean; denial of science and ongoing introduction of viral disease that infects penned and wild salmon.” – Lannie Keller, Discovery Islands, B.C.
We expect the federal government to report the results of this consultation soon. Over 2000 Canadians sent messages saying they want salmon farms off our coasts and away from wild salmon populations. We want a new Aquaculture Act to reflect the recent federal government commitment to remove open net-pen farms from the water by 2025. Thanks to everyone who took action. We’ll keep you posted!