B.C. government releases advisory council report on finfish aquaculture

Moratorium on new fish farm tenures will remain while government reviews report’s recommendations

A moratorium on issuing new tenures for finfish aquaculture will remain in place while the province considers the recommendations in a newly-released report put out by the Minister of Agriculture’s Advisory Council on Finfish Aquaculture (MAACFA)

“It’s a very difficult issue, there’s a lot of varying opinions,” Minister of Agriculture Lana Popham said in a teleconference with provincial media, “and I think the report is substantial and will give us a lot to work with.”

The advisory council was formed in 2016 by the province to provide strategic advice and policy guidance to the Minister of Agriculture about the future, and issuance, of new Crown-land tenures for marine-based salmon aquaculture in British Columbia. The members of MAACFA included representatives from the aquaculture industry, academia, non-governmental organizations, First Nations and federal and provincial government officials.

The minister said the government has been studying the report and its recommendations since it was completed in January. The council met 12 times between July 2016 and January 2018 when the report was handed in.

The minister acknowledged that the issue of fish farms on the B.C. coast has been “quite contentious” for the past 30 years and that the recommendations in the report reflect a number of viewpoints.

“I think it’s very important from our end to make sure we have the right processes in place, take the time that’s needed for an outcome that is acceptable to everyone and when it comes down to science, obviously, we will let the scientists do their work but they will have a big part to play,” the minister said.

Related: Province continues to meet with First Nations on Fish Farm issues

The council worked over the past 18 months to complete the report, which provides strategic, immediate and long-term recommendations.

They are grouped into six themes:

* Salmon farm locations

* Aboriginal rights and title

* Marine planning and community engagement

* Pathogens and disease

* Alternate technologies and approaches

* Transparency and information gaps

The report recommends policy changes by both the B.C. government and the Government of Canada, some of which require new funding to implement.

The province is releasing the report to allow for public review, and to enable consultation with Indigenous peoples, the aquaculture industry and Fisheries and Oceans Canada. The report recommends further consideration of implications, risks and benefits.

The council was provided with background on salmon farming (regulatory regime, operational arrangements and research and health developments) and presentations on finfish aquaculture issues. The council’s meeting minutes are also available on the MAACFA webpage.

Learn More:

Minister of Agriculture’s Advisory Council on Finfish Aquaculture: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/industry/agriculture-seafood/fisheries-and-aquaculture/minister-of-agriculture-s-advisory-council-on-finfish-aquaculture

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