B.C. agrees to freeze on new salmon farms in critical zone

Moratorium urged by Cohen Inquiry applies only to Discovery Islands

B.C. won’t approve any new net-pen salmon farms in the Discovery Islands before 2020, in line with the Cohen Inquiry’s call for a freeze in that area to safeguard migrating wild sockeye.

“We’re taking the precautionary principle as the commissioner has requested,” Agriculture Minister Norm Letnick said in an interview after releasing the province’s formal response to Justice Bruce Cohen’s recommendations last fall into the decline of Fraser River sockeye.

The freeze applies only in the Discovery Islands off northeastern Vancouver Island, which includes a narrow channel where most sockeye pass in close proximity to numerous ocean-based salmon farms.

B.C. could consider new licences in other areas of the coast, but Letnick wasn’t able to say if any applications are expected.

The main operator in the Discovery Islands, Marine Harvest, has indicated it has no need for new tenures in that area, Letnick said.

Cohen’s did not conclusively tie farmed salmon to the collapse of wild sockeye runs, but heard enough evidence to recommend the limited moratorium until September of 2020, while more monitoring is carried out to assess the risk from aquaculture-spread disease or other pathogens.

He also recommended farms along the migration route be shut down if science can’t prove by 2020 that the risk to wild fish from aquaculture is minimal.

“The government of the day in 2020 will have to make those decisions,” Letnick said in response.

He said the government has also accepted the intent of the other seven Cohen recommendations that apply to the province.

Some, including the replacement of B.C.’s Water Act, were already in the works, he said.

Other measures require the province to work closely with the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans.

Letnick said he expects DFO to meet its obligations in B.C. despite federal budget cutbacks.

No single culprit – not fish farms, overfishing, pollution, natural predators or global warming – got primary blame for the two-decade decline of Fraser River sockeye salmon in the report of the judicial inquiry.

Aquaculture industry reps had previously said Cohen’s recommendations would have very little impact on them.

Cohen was appointed by the federal government after less than 1.5 million sockeye returned in 2009, far fewer than the more than 10 million expected.

The latest forecast calls for an improved run of about 4.8 million this summer.

Just Posted

‘Best in the country’: Formerly homeless man praises Victoria’s outreach services

Jay W. was living on the streets of downtown Victoria in 2018

City of Victoria plans workshop to determine fate of Sir John A. Macdonald statue

Conversations will happen as part of a reconciliation dialogue series in May 2020

Time-lapse video shows weekend work on McKenzie Interchange project

Construction crews place concrete underpass bridge beams

Years of ‘horrific, violent accidents’ at Thetis Lake prompt plea to public

View Royal fire chief asks for an end to alcohol consumption at busy park

Watchdog group says Saanich council needs a ‘reality check’ about taxes

Grumpy Taxpayer$ of Greater Victoria warns of eroding housing affordability in Saanich

VIDEO: Man found dead near B.C. teens’ truck could be linked to a double homicide

RCMP said they are looking for Kam McLeod, 19, and Bryer Schmegelsky, 18, of Port Alberni

Latest plan is to fly trapped fish by helicopter over Big Bar slide

Multi-pronged plan set in motion to freesalmon blocked by landslide in the Fraser River

Family of missing B.C. senior with dementia frustrated with situation, heartened by community support

Nine days since Grace was last seen the question remains: ‘How can an 86-year-old just disappear?’

Police ask for help locating missing men last seen in South Surrey

Jeep that Richard Scurr and Ryan Provencher were in has been located unoccupied in Logan Lake: RCMP

Okanagan Air Cadet challenges gender-exclusive haircut policy

Haircut regulation inspires challenge around gender identity

VIDEO: Bystander training gains traction as tool to prevent sexual harassment, violence

Julia Gartley was sexually assaulted after an event, and no one stepped in to help

Sexual assaults, extortion on the rise even as crime rates stay low: Stats Canada

Rates of police-reported sexual assault rose for the fourth year in a row

Vancouver Island teens missing after vehicle found ablaze near Dease Lake, BC

RCMP say a body discovered nearby not one of the missing teens

Most Read