Nathan asks Fisheries Minister why she Still Fails to Regulate Fish Farms

Today in the House, Nathan questioned the Federal Fisheries Minister on the massive escape of farmed Atlantic salmon from a fish farm on Vancouver Island.  At least 40,000 fish escaped before plant workers noticed the hole in the open-cage farm.  There are real worries that the agressive breed may colonize rivers in the area and out-compete wild salmon for limited food resources, further hurting wild stocks.  The BC Supreme Court ruled in February 2008 that the Federal Government must assume responsibility for regulating fish farming and aquaculture on the West Coast but so far the Department of Fisheries and Oceans have failed to respond to efforts by first nations and coastal communities to engage in discussions to create regulations.

Mr. Nathan Cullen (Skeena—Bulkley Valley): “Mr. Speaker, last Wednesday 40,000 Atlantic salmon escaped from a B.C. fish farm.     With this year’s salmon stock facing a devastating collapse and eight months since the B.C. supreme court ruled that the DFO and this minister must regulate fish farms, will the minister step up and protect our west coast fisheries?    This minister has the power to fine these polluting farms up to $500,000. Will she enforce the rules or remain silent and be complicit in the crisis? Will she finally wake up to this disaster in the making and do her job?”

Hon. Gail Shea (Minister of Fisheries and Oceans): “Mr. Speaker, the aquaculture company in question responsibly reported the escape to federal and provincial authorities as soon as they were aware of the loss of fish.    My department provided the necessary authorization to have the company recapture the fish. While the provincial government does maintain jurisdiction over escape from fish farms, the provincial authorities will conduct an investigation along with my department.”