Federal Liberals treat East Coast fishery as ‘second class’; move to ban at-sea fish farms off BC but not eastern Canada

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Tuesday, Oct. 1st, 2019

The Federation of Independent Sea Harvesters of Newfoundland and Labrador (FISH-NL) accuses the Liberal Party of Canada of talking out of both sides of its mouth for promising to phase out at-sea salmon farms in British Columbia while ignoring Eastern Canada.

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“The impact of open-pen aquaculture on the marine environment is the exact same on both coasts, with the same companies reportedly operating on both ends of the country, but the Liberal policy is strictly for the West Coast,” says Ryan Cleary, President of FISH-NL. “How does that make sense? How is that fair? Do the Liberals consider the East Coast fishery a second-class industry?"

The Liberal Party of Canada recently unveiled its election platform, which includes a pledge to transition from open-pen salmon farms on the West Coast to on-land, closed-containment ones by 2025. There was no mention of the aquaculture industry in Eastern Canada.

Environmental groups and others have long called for a transition from open-net fish farming to closed-containment aquaculture, which they say would protect the marine environment from the waste, chemicals, escapes and sea lice associated with open-pen salmon farming.

“A national government should not impose a policy in one area of the country, and ignore the other,” said Cleary. “What message does that send to the country, and to inshore harvesters who fear the impact of fish farms on wild Atlantic salmon and other stocks?”

The 2012 Cohen inquiry report into the disappearance of sockeye salmon on B.C.’s Fraser River identified a conflict of interest with Fisheries and Oceans tasked with promoting fish farms on the one hand, and protecting wild salmon on the other.

Meantime, the Newfoundland and Labrador government both regulates the aquaculture industry, and is an investor in a massive aquaculture operation planned for Placentia Bay.

In early September there was a die off of Atlantic salmon at a fish farm in the Coast of Bays-Fortune Bay area. Salmon in open-net pens operated by Northern Harvest Sea Farms began dying in huge numbers, with the company blaming unusually high water temperatures.

In yet another conflict of interest, the FFAW-Unifor represents inshore harvesters involved in the wild fishery, as well as about 100 workers at the fish farm where the die off occurred, and 90 workers at the processing plant in Harbour Breton where the fish was to be processed.

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Contact: Ryan Cleary 682 4862