“A sustainable aquaculture sector will provide safe, high-quality Canadian products to markets here at home and around the world.”
By Jonathan Wilkinson
Minister of Fisheries, Oceans
and the Canadian Coast Guard
Wild Pacific salmon are incredibly important to the people of BC. It is a part of our identity, culture and the marine ecosystem.
That is why, since day one as Minister, protecting wild Pacific salmon has been top priority of mine and our government. We have brought in the $143 million BC Salmon Innovation and Restoration Fund, invested in coastal restoration through the Ocean Protection Plan, increased stock assessment and worked with many partners to advance protections.
The discussion around aquaculture has long been a very hot debate in BC. I have heard concern time and time again, from my constituents in North Vancouver and the people of BC. We have listened, and today we are proud to announce that we are taking action, and will be implementing strict new rules for sustainable aquaculture decision making.
This new sustainable approach will consist of a number of important pieces:
We will require testing of BC aquaculture hatcheries for two specific harmful strains of PRV: the Norwegian and Icelandic strain. Any detection of these invasive strains will be relayed to decision makers and would impact decision making on smolts’ transfers.
We have heard the concerns that PRV may be associated with HSMI and jaundice syndrome.
Given these concerns, DFO will be requiring enhanced testing and reporting of any instances of these illnesses. The department will increase audits at farm sites to ensure proper monitoring and implementing of farmed fish health.
In addition, the Department will be establishing three technical working groups, each focused on a key issue that has been identified. The working groups will be comprised of representatives of Indigenous communities, environmental organizations and members of the aquaculture industry.
The goal is to have a true consultation and to listen to all viewpoints.
We have released two documents pertaining to this interim approach. We want to hear from British Columbians about this new approach, during this 60 day consultations period.
We are continuously improving how we regulate the industry, in an environmentally sustainable way striving for the best standards possible to ensure wild fish populations are protected.
Ultimately, the demand for fish and seafood as a high-protein food source is increasing significantly world-wide, which is putting pressure on wild fish populations.
A sustainable aquaculture sector will provide safe, high-quality Canadian products to markets here at home and around the world.
Let’s grasp this economic opportunity, we are working to rebuild trust, sustainability and confidence in the system. Let’s work together to get this right.