Wild salmon well-protected: study
ANDREA GUNN | OTTAWA BUREAU
Published October 13, 2016 - 7:30pm
Nova Scotia leads Atlantic Canada in meeting minimum standards for the protection of wild salmon from the risks posed by aquaculture, a new study says.
But it still has a ways to go.
A report completed by Gardner Pinfold Consultants Inc. and released this week compares how well regulations in three Atlantic provinces as well as B.C., Maine and Norway compare to select criteria from the Aquaculture Stewardship Council Salmon Standard. It showed that no jurisdiction fully meets the criteria and some areas have much more work to do than others until regulations are acceptable.
According to the study, Norway has the highest regulatory standards at 82 per cent, followed by B.C. at 68 per cent, Nova Scotia at 64 per cent, Maine at 59, Newfoundland at 50 and New Brunswick at 45.
A release issued by the Atlantic Salmon Federation Wednesday said that aquaculture, more specifically open net-pen salmon farming, can spread disease and parasites to wild salmon, as well as alterations to the gene pool when farmed salmon escape and breed with wild fish.
Itís up to governments to make sure regulations govern salmon farming in a way that minimizes this risk, but this report shows regulators arenít doing enough monitoring and arenít sharing information with the public.
Lewis Hinks, director of Nova Scotia programs with the Atlantic Salmon Federation, told the Chronicle Herald the only way to fully protect protect wild Atlantic salmon is to separate aquaculture fish from wild fish completely through closed containment ó preferably land based.
But, he said, it could take a while and in the meantime there are ways to ensure minimum risk through regulation.
Nova Scotia fully meets some of the criteria examined by the study, such as prohibition of genetically modified salmon and documenting therapeutant use. However, it only partially meets criteria dealing with preventing escapes, avoiding damage to the sea floor, avoiding damage to critical habitats and sensitive species, the managing fish health, avoiding disease spread, meaningful consultation and aboriginal consultations. The province fails entirely when it comes to monitoring water quality surrounding farming sites.
In 2013 the Nova Scotia government imposed a moratorium on salmon aquaculture development while new regulations aimed at providing a more accountable and responsible approach to aquaculture were being crafted. Those regulations were officially put in place a year ago.
Hinks said while they are an improvement, the government should look at these changes only as a starting point.
ďMaybe the information obtained in (this report) might be some good information for them to work on as they continue the development and the roll out of the new regulations,Ē he said.
Hinks said he fully expects the provincial Department of Fisheries to at least consider the report in future changes to aquaculture regulation.
No one from the department responded to the Chronicle Heraldís media request by deadline.