Monday, March 31, 2008

Northern Fish farm moratorium well received by farm opponents

"Today's announcement means there's a greater chance we will succeed in protecting wild salmon for future generations," -- Gerald Amos, Friends of Wild Salmon chairperson commenting on the moratorium on fish farms in Northern BC waters.

Those groups that have been fighting the fight against the creation of fish farms in Northern BC are still celebrating the government announcement of last week which will see fish farm development limited to those waters of the Central and Southern coast.

Realizing however that it's only a first step, all of the stakeholders in the drive to keep the fish farms out of the north are already making their plans to keep the heat on the government for when the moratorium comes up again.

The Daily news featured more feedback on the issue as their front page story in Monday's edition.

'Monumental' day long time in coming say activists who voe to keep up pressure
By Kris Schumacher
The Daily News
Monday, March 31, 2008

Pages one and three

All across the province, conservation groups and politicians have been celebrating the recent government announcement of an immediate moratorium on fish farms on the North Coast
The Coastal Alliance for Aquaculture Reform welcomed Thursday's decision by Agriculture and Lands Minister Pat Bell, acknowledging that it marks a major turning point in recognizing the need to protect marine ecosystems and wild salmon stocks from the impacts of current salmon-farming practices.

"This a monumental day for Northern B.C.'s salmon and the communities that depend on them," said Des Nobels of the T.Buck Suzuki Foundation in Prince Rupert.

"The people of the North, who hold their wild salmon in high esteem, worked hard to make their wishes clear to government. But this announcement is just the first step in addressing the concerns of all British Columbians about the threats posed by the salmon farming industry to the future of our wild salmon."

The Friends of Wild Salmon, which has also led a public outcry against salmon farms since 2005 and brought together various stakeholder groups, said it was also grateful that government listened to northerners who spoke out and signed petitions calling for an end to fish farms.
"Today's announcement means there's a greater chance we will succeed in protecting wild salmon for future generations," said Gerald Amos, Friends of Wild Salmon chairperson.

"While we are relieved that there will be no fish farms in the North, we will continue to support our neighbours in southern B.C. who are struggling to protect wild salmon from the impacts of fish farms."

However, the news of an immediate halt to fish farm expansion north of Klemtu was accompanied by the approval of a new finfish farm in Nootka Sound as well as a replacement licence in Clayquot Sound.

Groups including CARR and FOWS were still highly critical of government for the new licences, complaining that this was the first response to any of the recommendations from Legislature's Special Committee on Sustainable Aquaculture.

The province had also approved six open-net cage licences since May 2007. These groups and other stakeholders are still awaiting a response another critical SCSA recommendation - the implementation of closed-containment salmon farming.

"If net-cage salmon farming is not appropriate for our northern waters, why is it still permitted in the south?" asked Catherine Stewart of the Living Oceans Society, a CAAR member group.
"We applaud this government for listening to the citizens of the North and granting a reprieve to the wild salmon and waters on the North Coast, it is now imperative that the province acts to move salmon farms in the south and central coasts to closed-containment before the wild pink and chum fall into localized extinctions."

Skeena MLA and Fisheries Critic Robin Austin, who chaired the SCSA, says the announcement represents the first time the province has faced up to the risks fish farms pose to the environment and wild fish stocks.

While he is pleased with this first small step, he echoed the sentiments of conservationists, saying we have yet to hear about the government's plan for the south and central coasts.
"It is unfortunate that the government took this long to act on the concerns raised in the report of the SCSA," said Austin.

"It is only a modest beginning on making our aquaculture industry sustainable. We need to see what the government does when the suspension of finfish aquaculture on the North Coast comes to an end."

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