Before you ask, no — British Columbia is not in a different country. Ottawa has once again justified its decision to end at-sea fish farming on the B.C. coast — while allowing at-sea farming to continue and expand off the East Coast — by using the excuse that the provinces (and not the feds) call the aquaculture shots in eastern Canada.
NL Aquaculture Industry Association picture. There are three major Atlantic salmon producers in Newfoundland and Labrador, including Grieg, Mowi and Cooke.
That's a cop out.
If at-sea aquaculture is not good enough for the waters off B.C., its certainly not good enough for Newfoundland and Labrador waters.
The federal government has created two-tiered fishery policy that puts more worth in the life of a wild Pacific salmon than a wild Atlantic salmon, which are even more endangered and have been for decades.
That's a management/leadership failure of the highest order (and Canada is known for epic mismanagement).
Federal DFO Minister Joyce Murray (a B.C. Member of Parliament) reiterated Ottawa's position recently that the transition from open-pen salmon farming in coastal B.C. will not extend to Eastern Canada.
Here's a quote from the press release:
"Minister Murray reiterated that the implementation of a federal plan to transition from open-net pen salmon farming in coastal British Columbia waters will not extend to Eastern Canada, where provinces are the lead regulators for the management and development of aquaculture.."
So there you have it.
In 2021 Ottawa announced a $647-million plan to save Pacific salmon salmon, but there has been no such program to save Atlantic salmon, which has been under a commercial fishing moratorium since 1992.
There was news this week that Grieg Seafoods is ramping up aquaculture investment in Newfoundland while holding back in Norway, where the company is based.
IMPACT OF AT-SEA FISH FARMING STAGGERING
A 2019 aquaculture assessment found that salmon farming is wrecking ruin on marine ecosystems through pollution, parasites, and high fish mortality rates which are causing billions of dollars a year in damages.
The assessment found that a fifth of the world's annual wild fish catch — amounting to about 18 million tonnes of wild fish a year, is used to make fishmeal and fish oil, of which about 70% goes to fish farms.
The inshore fleet on the province's south coast, where the fish farming industry has been operating for decades, should be compensated for the huge impact that aquaculture has had on wild stocks such as cod and lobster.
Executive Director, SEA-NL
Seaward Enterprises Association of Newfoundland and Labrador (SEA-NL) is a professional, non-profit organization that serves as the distinct voice for licensed, independent owner-operator inshore fish harvesters. Visit sea-nl.ca to join.