Environment commissioner audit slams federal fish farm management

Environment commissioner audit slams federal fish farm management

File photo.

File photo.

The federal environment commissioner says Ottawa isn’t doing enough to protect wild salmon from diseases posed from farmed fish in managing the industry on the coasts of B.C. and Atlantic Canada.

A new audit Tuesday from Julie Gelfand Tuesday took a scathing look at how the billion-dollar salmon farm industry is handled by Fisheries and Oceans Canada.

Gelfand says Ottawa has no requirement to monitor the health of wild salmon and is providing more money to research related to fish farms, rather than fund research that monitors their impact.

“The department is at risk of being seen to promote aquaculture over the protection of wild salmon,” Gelfand said.

The commissioner said research gaps not only show a lack of knowledge of disease impact on wild salmon but what effect the drugs used to treat the ailments has.

The audit went over information compiled between September 2015 and November 2017.

The audit also showed there is no national standard on nets used to keep farmed salmon penned in the ocean, although Gelfand says the issue is better handled in B.C. than with fish farms on the east coast.

40,000 salmon escaped open net farms in Newfoundland and Labrador, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia in 2015.

Gelfand also shows little confidence in Canada keeping its end of the bargain to a United Nation’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the UN Convention on Biological Diversity.

She cited a lack of leadership from Ottawa to meet targets in the agreement for countries to work towards sustainable environmental, economic and social development.

The federal government recommitted to the 2030 agenda last year, but the audit reports Ottawa hasn’t yet implemented fundamental requirements.

“The federal government committed to implementing the 2030 agenda three years ago, but again, it is not ready to respect its international commitment,” Gelfand said.

“When will it be ready?”

The report recommends the fisheries department to better enforce its own regulations.

With files from the Canadian Press.





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