A dead and bloated Harbour Seal entangled in a net attached to unused fish farming equipment near Port Hardy.
In the lead-up to the BC Salmon Farmers Association’s first-ever Aquaculture Awareness Week a lot of media reports and even one or two clever cartoons were generated. They must be disappointed that most of the coverage was in response to our media release about predator control activities at BC salmon farms during the first quarter of 2011 being reported publicly for the first time.
Members of the Coastal Alliance for Aquaculture Reform (CAAR) have been advocating for more transparency around activities at BC salmon farms for a long, long time because very little information has been offered up voluntarily by industry or government. When a CAAR member’s Freedom of Information requests for fish health audit data were rebuffed by the province they went to appeal and won. Together with our supporters CAAR pushed hard for better public reporting on site-by-site impacts in the marine environment to become part of the new aquaculture regulations when the jurisdictional responsibility for management in BC was handed over to the federal government. We were heard and now everyone will have access to information on incidental catch, marine mammal interactions, site-by-site sea lice counts, escapes, egg imports and licensing information. Our EcoJustice lawyers for the Conservation Coalition at the Cohen Commission of Inquiry fought for the release of fish health data at all salmon farms along the migration route of Fraser River sockeye over the objections of industry and government. We won and now those data have been entered into evidence for all to see. What is still not clear from DFO’s new web page is how they will report out future disease information they collect from salmon farmers.
The reason Living Oceans Society and CAAR have been fighting hard to advance the cause of transparency is because, in the end, the more British Columbians and Canadians know about the practices and impacts of farming salmon in open net-cages, the more pressure there will be on our elected officials to clean up the industry and transition it to closed containment.