MP's bill to ban open net-cage fish farms gaining steam

Tri City News

MP's bill to ban open net-cage fish farms gaining steam

More than 3,000 names are on a federal ePetition in support of Port Moody-Coquitlam MP Fin Donnelly's private member's bill.

Janis Warren / Tri City News

More than 3,000 names are now on a federal ePetition to back a bill by Port Moody-Coquitlam MP Fin Donnelly that calls for the protection of west coast wild salmon.

In October, the NDP MP is expected to introduce his private member's bill that, if passed, would ban open net-cage fish farms on the west coast.

Donnelly, the party's critic for fisheries, oceans and Canadian Coast Guard, has more than 2,700 names from B.C. attached to his ePetition. And, soon, a celebrity will come forward with an endorsement, he said.

Already, Bill C-228, An Act to amend the Fisheries Act (closed containment aquaculture), has the support of a number of academics, environmentalists, First Nations and high-profile business people such as Yvon Chouinard, founder and CEO of the clothing and gear line Patagonia.

Donnelly is also rallying his Metro Vancouver colleagues — including Liberal MPs Ron McKinnon (Port Coquitlam-Coquitlam) and Pamela Goldsmith-Jones (West Vancouver-Sunshine Coast-Sea to Sky Country) — to get on board.

"There's a ton of people who are getting behind this, thinking it's a win-win for wild salmon and for the fish-farming industry," he said, adding, "if the fish-farming industry wants to move forward, closed containment offers them that solution."

Donnelly said he's watching the government in Norway, which this year announced it would transition to closed containment, at a cost of $450 million.

The MP said he didn't know how many open net-cage fish farms are currently operating in Canada. He believes he will receive the most resistance for his bill from interior communities that aren't affected by the salmon economy.

Donnelly said his bill only focuses on the west coast as there is more political willingness and, if successful, it could expand to the Atlantic region.

"Bill Taylor, [president] of the Atlantic Salmon Federation, he wants to see this national," Donnelly said. "He feels this legislation is not just needed on the west coast… If we can get that win on the west coast then, ideally, it would spread to the east coast."

To sign Donnelly's ePetition, visit http://ow.ly/WSYA303wjT6.

Meanwhile, MP McKinnon's private member's bill, the Good Samaritan Drug Overdose Act, is currently being studied by the health standing committee and will likely go to a report stage debate this fall.

Bill C-224 aims to lift the fear of reporting a drug overdose by providing those who call 911 during an overdose amnesty from being charged with drug possession.