Secret expansion of BC fish farming an ecological disaster

The Green Party of Canada today urged the Harper Conservatives to immediately cease their secret review of new applications to expand fish farms on the BC coast.

According to letters sent last week to BC First Nations from Minister of Fisheries and Oceans Gail Shea, the Department has covertly opened the door to dramatic expansion of twelve fish farming operations in environmentally sensitive coastal areas.

Despite the clear warnings of the 2012 Cohen Commission Report, which called on the federal government to maintain its strict moratorium on fish farm expansion, a DFO spokesperson has stated that new applications “will continue to be evaluated.”

The Harper administration has yet to formally respond to the Royal Commission’s recommendations, despite having commissioned Mr. Justice Cohen’s review into missing salmon populations in BC.

“Increased fish farming activity would jeopardize fragile aquatic habitats, along with our province’s wild salmon“ said Elizabeth May, Leader of the Green Party of Canada and MP for Saanich–Gulf Islands. “That this approval process was re-opened in secret is extremely disturbing, and is indicative of the fact that the Conservatives are trying to stifle public opposition on this critical issue.”

The Cohen Commission Report identified salmon farming as a major threat to wild sockeye populations, and one of the potential causes of the 2009 Fraser River sockeye collapse. Ocean-net fish farms are highly polluting, and expose wild fish to sea lice, parasites and disease.