As Ottawa moves forward with plans to support the continued sustainable growth of Canada’s aquaculture industry, Atlantic Canadian salmon farmers call on Department of Fisheries and Oceans Minister Jonathan Wilkinson and other federal officials to recognize the diverse coastal, cultural and regulatory environments in which we operate.
Statements made last week by Minister Wilkinson in British Columbia highlight the need for the federal government to designate an agency that formally has the mandate to support the growth of the seafood farming sector, as with other farming sectors. This will allow the Department of Fisheries and Oceans to continue to protect Canada’s oceans while placing the country in the forefront of ocean management and aquaculture development globally.
We reject the assumption that removing salmon farms from coastal BC waters will save wild Pacific salmon. It’s a simplistic notion that is not based in scientific evidence and does a disservice to the identification of the complex issues facing wild salmon on the west coast. The fact is, no one really knows exactly why wild Pacific salmon populations are fluctuating. The Cohen Commission listed more than 20 activities affecting pacific salmon, including climate change (marine and fresh water), loss of habitat, predators, non-point sources of contaminants, forestry, and cumulative effects.
Atlantic Canadian salmon farmers are leading the way in wild Atlantic salmon conservation activities, such as partnering in the Fundy Salmon Recovery Program with First Nations and all levels of government.
Aquaculture is a responsible, sustainable and innovative means to provide adequate food supply to meet the world’s population growth while helping to reduce the pressure on wild fish stocks. The Atlantic coast’s abundant natural ocean environment makes it one of the best locations in the world to farm fish, especially Atlantic salmon, in an environmentally sustainable way. Our aquaculture professionals know that pristine seawater is essential for the production of healthy, high quality salmon, and they follow the highest farm management best practices to protect the ocean and the health of their fish.
Atlantic Canadian salmon farmers continue to reiterate that any legislative or policy changes need to recognize coastal uniqueness and provincial/federal regulatory jurisdiction while enabling the innovative advancement of our Canadian aquaculture Industry.
We support Fisheries and Oceans Canada plans to adopt a Bay Management approach on the west coast. Atlantic Canadian salmon farmers pioneered the world-renowned Bay Management approach and have implemented this best practice since 2005. Atlantic Canada’s regulatory regime – including its siting process – is overseen by provincial governments. Each province’s process involves a rigorous review by several government agencies and consultation with community stakeholders including First Nations.
Our farmers recognize the diversity of the areas in which they farm their fish; they understand that each coastal area and each province requires different environmental and regulatory conditions in which to operate.