With the federal election on the horizon we thought we would lay out the various party platforms with regards to aquaculture. We are focusing on the top four parties vying for country wide seats in alphabetical order.
Conservative Party of Canada
In their policy document under the heading 118. Fisheries the Conservatives state:
“We believe in investing significantly in our scientific knowledge base and in making firm and fair decisions based on facts, with a regulatory and enforcement regime that has the ability to carry out the necessary function. Responsibility must come from participating regions where more decision making must be located so that wild stocks, as well as aquaculture, can be managed appropriately.”
Green Party of Canada
Under the heading of 1.17: Fisheries the Green Party platform is very strongly against the current practices involved with commercial fishing. Aquaculture is mentioned within this context.
“We oppose the current approach that favours fish farms and presumes that aquaculture can make up for dwindling wild stocks.”
“Require that the management and conservation of wild fisheries take precedence over aquaculture, wherever there are conflicts;”
“Implement measures to quickly phase out open-ocean net-cage fish farms and ensure that this aquaculture industry does not continue to harm wild fisheries;”
“Work with provincial governments to eliminate aquaculture practices that damage the marine environment and threaten human health and seek:
- A moratorium on new open-ocean net-pen salmon farms and a phase-out of existing farms within ten years;
- In the meantime, the fallowing of sea pens during wild-hatch salmon runs.”
Liberal Party of Canada
Under the heading of “Real Change: Protecting our Oceans” we find this statement.
“2. Invest in Ocean Science…This funding will be used to ensure the health of our fish stocks, such as the iconic British Columbia salmon, monitor contaminants and pollution in our oceans, and to support an environmentally sustainable, responsible, and economically successful aquaculture industry on both coasts.
Under the heading of Protecting our Freshwater and Oceans the Liberal party of Canada does not make any comments about aquaculture specifically but does commit to:
“Act on the recommendations from the Cohen Commission on restoring sockeye salmon stocks in the Fraser River.”
If you are curious about how this relates to aquaculture in B.C. you will find these articles interesting: Cohen Commission.
NDP (New Democratic Party of Canada)
The title of the platform under which aquaculture is mentioned is “Everybody eats – Our Vision for a Pan-Canadian Food Strategy.” Section Three is labeled: Thriving agricultural businesses drive our national economy. Under the subheading labeled “3.1 We have a successful and high value-added agri-business sector” we find the NDP stance on aquaculture on both coasts.
- Promote the sustainable development of aquaculture
- Develop a pan-Canadian policy and regulatory framework for aquaculture, including through a federal Aquaculture Act.
- Support a transition to closed containment aquaculture.
- Work with industry to establish a dedicated fund for closed containment demonstration projects.
- Support the funding of research and development for sustainable closed containment technologies.
The Liberals do not take a hard stand one way or the other with regards to aquaculture in BC. They do promise to put money back into the Department of Fisheries and Oceans so that continued study can be made with regards to aquaculture. They accept that aquaculture is part of the economic success of Canada.
The Conservatives also want to focus on science when looking at aquaculture and wild fisheries and goes so far as to mention that each region needs to be involved in the decision making. This makes a lot of sense since the east and west coasts of Canada have their own diverse struggles in this regard.
As suspected the Green Party is completely against aquaculture in the oceans and they go one step further. They say that aquaculture harms human health. There is no proof to this rumor.
The NDP wants to promote the “sustainable development of aquaculture” on one hand and on the other wants to focus on closed containment options. To many, this sounds like a great solution but when looked at more carefully, much study has already been done. In order to match the current volume farmed salmon in the ocean on land will require unattainable amounts of energy, fresh water and land. For more information on closed containment systems please read these articles: Closed Containment Salmon Farming Less Attractive as Worlds Fresh Water Sucked Up, Closed Containment is not a Panacea.
More information for your reference:
What do the North Island Powell River Candidates have to say about Aquaculture
Responses: Powell River, Sept. 30, 2015 and Campbell River Mirror, Oct. 13, 2015
Federal election candidates address questions for riding
Powell River Peak, September 30, 2015
What is the most critical issue facing aquaculture and fisheries in this riding?
Brenda Sayers – Green Party: My name is Brenda Sayers and I am from the Hupacasath First Nation, one of the 14 First Nation tribes that extend across North Vancouver Island.
For the last two and half years I have fought the ratification of the Canada-China Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement on behalf of the Hupacasath First Nation and all people of Canada.
We need to see a change in Ottawa; a change that is people-driven. I will stand for the people and ensure your voices are heard in Parliament. Together we will establish the building blocks for future generations to create positive change.
During my multiple recent visits to Powell River, I have heard many concerns about aquaculture, specifically open-pen salmon farms. Canada’s most conspicuous environmental and economic tragedy has been the collapse of our wild fisheries.
As a member of the Hupacasath First Nation on Vancouver Island, salmon has always been an important part of my culture. I identify with Powell Riverites’ concerns about fish farms on a deeply personal level.
As a Green MP, I would work to implement measures to quickly phase out open-ocean, net-cage fish farms.
As a Green MP, I will work to strengthen the Fisheries Act to require evaluation of threats to fish stocks and include provisions to protect them and the marine environment, make protection of critical stocks and habitat mandatory and require that the management and conservation of wild fisheries take precedence over aquaculture.
Peter Schwarzhoff – Liberal Party: My name is Peter Schwarzhoff and I was raised in Campbell River in a pulp-mill family, so I know the region, but I spent my career in public service. As a former Air Force captain, I understand our duty to our veterans.
As a retired Environment Canada scientist, I understand the need for evidence-based decision-making and the need for an open, transparent government. I know we can have development without destroying the environment. I believe Canada deserves a government that treats all Canadians with trust and respect. I am part of a team that will restore these values to government service on behalf of all Canadians.
Trust is the greatest issue, but I am a scientist, so I rely on evidence. Conflicting evidence regarding potential impacts of open-net salmon aquaculture was presented to the Cohen Commission. Among his recommendations, Justice Cohen stated that if the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) could not scientifically ascertain by 2020 that salmon farms posed minimal risk to wild salmon, they should be removed from the ocean. The Liberal Party will accept the Cohen recommendations.
Due to cutbacks, DFO has not able to conduct the science itself. Instead, it relies on contractors working with the aquaculture industry. The science conducted may be excellent, but because it appears to have been conducted by industry, the findings are not trusted by the public.
A Liberal government will restore DFO science capacity, as well as enforcement and habitat capacity, and will ensure the process is transparent so that it can be trusted.
Rachel Blaney – NDP: My name is Rachel Blaney and I was raised in a Stellet’en First Nation family and have lived in the North Island-Powell River region for 17 years. My husband is a former Homalco chief and we have three children and two grandchildren.
I’m the executive director of the Immigrant Welcome Centre in Campbell River and have received local and provincial awards and commendations for my work. I have extensive experience working with all levels of government and am a member of the Conference Board of Canada’s Roundtable on Immigration. I’m also on committees dealing with food security, community development and health.
The most critical issue is the continuing concern about the impact of open-net fish farms on wild stock. Both the wild fishery and fish farms are essential to the economy of our riding. The NDP believes we can take action to eliminate concerns while ensuring both industries remain viable.
To this end, we support a transition to closed containment farming. We are committed to increasing research and development funding to support the transition.
Further, the NDP fully supports the recommendations in the Cohen report and we’ve already called for immediate action on its recommendations to protect wild salmon stocks and fish habitat.
The Harper government decimated the federal environmental assessment regime. They’ve gutted the Fisheries Act and cut the Department of Fisheries and Oceans to the point that the few remaining fisheries officers have trouble scrounging the money to operate their patrol boats.
The NDP will restore and improve these protections and the ability to monitor compliance.
Laura Smith – Conservative Party: My coastal background and parliamentary experience makes me the clear choice to represent North Island–Powell River.
I grew up in a forestry family and spent some great years living in a logging camp, which led me to develop a lifelong interest in the natural world. I was motivated to become a professional forester by the activism of resource-dependent coastal communities.These communities struck a balance between the economic and environmental value of the coast.
In recent years, I served as a senior policy advisor to Minister John Duncan in Ottawa and remain committed to our Conservative government’s record of preserving the environment while growing the economy.
The most critical issue facing aquaculture and fisheries in this riding is regulatory certainty. Department of Fisheries and Oceans has been making progress in the area of aquaculture regulations as we transition from provincial to federal oversight, but more needs to be done.
The aquaculture industry, for both finfish and shellfish, can be a growing source of stable, local jobs, but we need to ensure that there is an effective regulatory regime that protects our ocean resources and provides certainty to operators.
For wild fisheries, certainty around stock allocations is always of prime importance.
ELECTION 2015: The candidates’ responses to questions on aquaculture,
Campbell River Mirror, Alistair Taylor/Campbell River Mirror, Oct. 13, 2015
How do you feel aquaculture will be part of food production in the future?
Rachel Blaney (NDP): Thank you for the question. You know I’ve travelled around the riding and there’s a lot of innovative and amazing things happening with aquaculture. Food security is going to be huge issue. We know what is happening with climate change, so, yes, we see it as definitely part of food production in the future. Research has been started already in Canada and the federal government has paid into amazing projects around closed containment. I know I was just up in Namgis and talking about what they’re doing and some of their innovative ideas around closed containment as a long term strategy. We know that we have to work hard with industry and I’m looking forward to doing so. Thank you.
Brenda Sayers (Green party): We support the recommendation of the Cohen Commission for a moratorium on no new pen fish farms. We believe they must be moved out of the water. DFO has had sufficient funding to determine the effects of stocks and habitats. Until then we operate on a precautionary principle. If there is a chance that harm is being done by the using antibiotics, they must be moved out of the water. We support the shellfish aquaculture because of the minimal impact on the system. And we know that climate change has a lot to with have a negative serious effect on the ecosystem. Thank you.
Peter Schwarzhoff (Liberal Party): Shellfish is included under aquaculture and that’s an industry we support although I’m very much worried about ocean acidification caused by climate change. But the problem we’re talking with salmon farming we have high hopes for the Kuterra closed containment we really hope that works but it will never be able to provide the protein that’s needed by the world. The demand for salmon is huge. Now we also have said we will adopt the recommendations of the Cohen Commission which specifically state that we need to prove that open net farming is safe for wild stocks by 2020 or we need to be out of the water. DFO responded to that challenge unfortunate because they lost their government science capacity by hiring industry to do the work. Now that industry seems to be showing that it’s safe but nobody trusts them because it’s done by industry. We will refund DFO to make sure they can do that work. We’ve got $40 million for a budget to make sure DFO tells us it’s going to be safe and we can trust DFO.
Laura Smith (Conservative Party): Yes, food security is an issue and there’s a huge and growing demand for food in the world particularly high protein food and aquaculture products have a very efficient ratio of protein to protein out so it’s a very important way to meet this growing demand and we have a great ability to do our part for filling that need. But I would point out that with closed containment our government has made some investments in the research but the jury’s still out. We’re open to that but if we’re looking for that to create jobs in the North Island, if you can grow salmon on the land you’re going to be growing it in Vancouver not here. So when it comes to jobs, we want to make sure we’re taking maximum availability of our great workers and resources. Thank-you.
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