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

Y2K Spitfire comes home

Stocky Edwards guest of honour at banquet

Crown Isle acquires Longlands Golf Course

The Crown Isle Resort and Golf Community just got a little bit… Continue reading

Heliports certified at Comox Valley, Campbell River hospitals

Both sites should see heliports up and running by late summer

115 new wildfires burning across B.C. due to 19,000 lightning strikes

More fires expected to start today, says BC Wildfire Service officials

Three small wildfires burning west of Courtenay

The blazes are the result of a brief thunderstorm last night

VIDEO: Trades jobs the way of the future on Vancouver Island?

Hundreds of people attend Black Press Career Fair in Nanaimo

Rescued Oregon family simply unprepared for adventure, RCMP say

Agencies now helping the group of four get to their destination in Alaska

Large B.C. tree dies after possible poisoning

Police and District investigate after large chestnut tree’s rapid decline

Canucks release 2018-19 season schedule

Vancouver to face Calgary Flames on Wednesday, Oct. 3, for home opener

VIDEO: Luxury Home and Design Show opens with Italian flare

Event set to run Friday to Sunday at BC Place in Vancouver

Small new charge on BC Hydro bills goes toward new crisis fund

The new fund aims to help customers who find themselves in financial emergencies

UPDATED: Crown appeals B.C. polygamous leader’s acquittal in child bride case

James Oler had been charged with taking his underage daughter to the U.S. to marry her off

A day to remember: Glacier View Secondary holds 2018 graduation ceremony

Glacier View Secondary School held its 2018 graduation ceremony on Thursday, June… Continue reading

Fake cops ‘arrest’ woman, steal $6,000 in latest CRA scam

Vancouver police urge people not take calls from anyone saying they’re from the Canada Revenue Agency

Most Read