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As much as I may have personal issues with Mr. Reid, he hits this one pretty close to the mark:

DFO needs to make wild salmon priority
By D.C. Reid, Times Colonist August 12, 2010

The B.C. Supreme Court transferring responsibility for fish farms from B.C. to the DFO has resulted in a document describing what the federal government will do. Visit the Canada Gazette website to register your disagreement. You have only until Sept. 5 to voice your complaint, to Ed Porter at: [email protected]

The most important thing DFO fails to do is what the vast majority of B.C. residents want: put fish farms on land in closed containment, treat effluent and eliminate chemicals so downstream water is the same as upstream water taken in. Nowhere is this mentioned.

And the three paragraph cost-benefit analysis -- should be 100 pages and include an environmental assessment -- fails to take into account two very large items: that wild salmon are being pushed out of existence by fish farm lice and that fish farms currently use our ocean as a free sewer. It also fails to recognize that the U.S. -- where 90 per cent of the product is sold -- may impose countervailing duties for these two failures.

What is being considered? Business as usual, reducing administrative requirements, protection of fish habitat, the environment, monitoring of lice and disease. As for business as usual, it fails to note that in Norway, the fish farm industry and wild Atlantics are in bad shape, that Chile -- noted as a success -- is in fact in disarray, with pristine environments destroyed, local employment and economies ruined and collapse of the industry.

As for reduced administrative requirements, do we really want less regulation of an industry that drags its feet on something as simple as closed containment? Do we want a dramatic increase in the number and size of fish feedlots? No.

As for protection of fish habitat, what does this actually mean? Freshwater or saltwater? You may recall that DFO has been so bad at maintaining freshwater habitat that the Auditor General of Canada has slammed their record in four successive reports over the past 10 years. And my estimate is that $500 million is needed -- with a century of logging damage the main culprit. And if we are talking saltwater, where is it that DFO does saltwater habitat restoration?

As for lice and disease, the industry is less than forthcoming. In the 1990s there was a series of e-mails about it refusing to give data and refusing testing if the results were not secret. And, after a recent freedom of information request, the industry has done just that. Since April 2010 it stopped giving information to B.C. that would allow for monitoring environmental effects. It crossed my mind that someone needs to look into the 1990s disease data because, as farmed lice kill fry on the way out, farm disease may well kill adult sockeye on the way in, and be one significant cause of 15 years of Fraser River sockeye collapse.

And don't believe the DFO saying it will do things based on monitoring and scientific evidence. That is because after 150 years of having authority, DFO has only managed to do baseline "science" on the most basic of all stats: only 57 per cent of wild strains have been counted. What about the other 43 per cent? Don't believe DFO will do science, if it can't do the most basic of basic.

Nowhere in the lengthy discussion paper is there a mention of the Precautionary Principle or Wild Salmon Policy. When DFO put together the policy, the principle was used to keep sport anglers away from coho and Chinook. But today, I hear no mention of this principle with respect to protecting wild salmon from feedlot salmon.
© Copyright (c) The Victoria Times Colonist

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