CANADIANS ENHANCE AQUACULTURE SUSTAINABILITY
Canadians Enhance Aquaculture Sustainability – Global demand for fish and seafood as a high-protein food source is increasing significantly.
Over half of seafood consumed world wide is produced by aquaculture operations. Ensuring that the aquaculture industry is successful in the future is imperative to reducing overfishing and ensuring wild fish stocks are sustainable. However, Canadians must be assured that aquaculture is environmentally sustainable.
Building on a number of initiatives announced over the past six months, the Minister of Fisheries, Oceans, and the Canadian Coast Guard, the Honourable Jonathan Wilkinson today announced the release of two draft risk management documents aimed at enhancing the Department’s science-based decision-making processes on aquaculture:
• An interim Framework for Aquaculture Risk Management (FARM) to provide a consistent, predictable process for aquaculture risk management that ensures wild fish and their habitats are protected. This risk-management framework also explains how a precautionary approach for aquaculture decision-making is to be implemented; and
• An interim Framework on the Transfer of Live Fish that provides guidance on the authorization of the movement of fish in marine environments and what, if any, additional mitigation measures are needed to protect wild stocks. The interim framework sets out a process for assessing the impact of transfers on wild fish and determining if testing for pathogens is warranted.
The government will seek public feedback on these two documents over a 60-day period, starting on June 4, which includes consultation with the Namgis First Nation to inform a final decision. While consultations are ongoing, DFO will utilize the interim Framework on the Transfer of Live Fish and the FARM to assess and manage on an interim basis potential risks to wild salmon from Piscine Orthoreovirus (PRV) in British Columbia.
As further steps in implementing a precautionary approach, DFO will also work with industry to implement two key additional measures:
• DFO will be requiring enhanced testing and reporting of any instances of heart and skeletal muscle inflammation (HSMI) and jaundice syndrome. The Department will be investing additional resources to undertake increased audits at farm sites to ensure proper monitoring and enhanced monitoring of farmed fish health, and
• We will undertake screening in fresh water aquaculture hatcheries in BC for the presence of two specific strains of PRV – the non-native Icelandic and Norwegian strains, the latter having been shown to be harmful to Norwegian farmed Atlantic salmon.
In addition, the Department will establish three new Technical Working Groups, each focused on a key issue that has been identified for improvement and/or enhanced collaboration. The Working Groups will be inclusive and will be comprised of representatives of the Province of BC, Indigenous communities, environmental organizations, the aquaculture industry and other key stakeholders and will provide advice to the Department. This advice will be directly relevant to any final decisions with regard to risk management policy. These groups will focus on:
• Area based approaches to aquaculture management;
• Aquaculture production technologies (including closed containment); and
• Fish health.
We are committed to further enhancing the sustainability of our oceans and coastal communities and to addressing issues of concern. That is why, over the longer term, DFO will work with key federal departments and provincial governments to continue explore potential technology approaches, including closed containment, for supporting the development of the aquaculture industry. The recently announced Canada-BC Aquaculture Technology Study and the recent report of the Fraser Basin Council on closed containment will help to inform this work.
The path forward on further enhancing the sustainability of aquaculture operations requires engaging with Canadians across a broad range of interests. The Department will continue to work with Indigenous partners, provinces, territories, federal partners, environmental groups, industry, and members of the public to arrive at well informed, science based decisions that will ensure the protection of wild Pacific salmon stocks.