B.C. to Consider More Fish Farmsby Associated Press
Seattle Times - February 1, 2002
Alaska's governor calls decision 'troubling'
VICTORIA, B.C. -- The government of British Columbia has lifted a six-year moratorium on new fish farms.
The province will begin accepting applications for new operations at the end of April, Fisheries Minister John van Dongen said yesterday.
He said for more than four years the government has reviewed scientific work done on salmon farming. A scientific review done by the provincial Environmental Assessment Office concluded that the environmental risks of salmon farming under existing rules were low.
The moratorium was imposed in 1995.
Alaska Gov. Tony Knowles urged British Columbia to reconsider its decision.
"I find it troubling," said Knowles, "that when others are questioning the safety and wisdom of salmon farming and raising serious concerns about problems such as contamination, disease and the escapes of nonnative species of fish, that our neighbors in British Columbia are moving forward with expansion of this industry."
The governor said last year there were 29,000 accidental releases of Atlantic salmon from British Columbia fish farms. So far this year, there have been between 8,000 and 10,000.
"Salmon farms are a threat to our ocean environment and the ecology of Pacific salmon," Knowles said.
"Alaska wisely took action to ban this practice a decade ago."
The salmon-farming industry has come under fire from environmental groups and Indian tribes who argue it pollutes coastal waters with fish waste and encourages an increase in parasites that prey on wild stocks.
Thousands of Atlantic farm salmon also have escaped when net cages are ruptured in stormy seas.
Critics warn that farm fish are surviving in the wild to reproduce in salmon streams, displacing native fish.
Salmon farmers and their allies have worked hard to devise standards and rules for an environmentally sound and sustainable industry, said Anne McMullin, executive director of the B.C. Salmon Farmers Association.
McMullin estimated that British Columbia salmon farmers will invest up to $60 million annually over the next 10 years while generating as many as 8,000 new full-time jobs, largely in job-deprived coastal areas of the province.
But the Raincoast Conservation Society in British Columbia said the decision indicates the government has turned its back on the people living along the coast, as well as on wild salmon. He said the decision ultimately will hurt tourism in the region.
"What the province has signaled today is that it is willing to do a massive expansion of this harmful industry," said Raincoast campaigner Ian McAllister.
learn more on topics covered in the film
see the video
read the script
learn the songs