VICTORIA — B.C.’s New Democrat government faced criticism Wednesday for deciding to let coastal fish farms operate for the next four years while companies consult with local First Nations.
Environmental groups said they support the NDP’s criticism of open-pen fish farms and a new requirement for Aboriginal consent, but the 2022 deadline is too far off and threatens to further endanger coastal salmon with the risk of disease.
Alexandra Morton, a longtime critic of open-pen fish farms, said she was disgusted the government refused to cancel outright 20 tenures in the Broughton Archipelago that were up for renewal on Wednesday.
“That’s what’s so disappointing about this government, they are chickens,” said Morton. “They are weak.”
Morton said the government had all the evidence it needed, including clear opposition from First Nations in the archipelago, to simply act. Instead, she said, it kicked the issue down the road until after the next scheduled provincial election in 2021 (or earlier depending on Premier John Horgan’s minority government).
“They are not going be here in four years,” said Morton. “Nobody is going to hear this little squeak from the NDP. Nobody is going to respect it.
“They literally used it as ransom for us to vote for them again. Four years, that’s eight generations of salmon coming and going that are going to be exposed to these viruses, to these sea lice which are still out of control and they did absolutely nothing to protect these fish.”
Agriculture Minister Lana Popham, however, said B.C.’s new rules “clarify government’s expectations” of fish farms.
“We have thousands and thousand of jobs that depend on a healthy ecosystem including wild salmon,” she said. “As far as jobs related to the fish farm industry, we feel this four-year transition will allow us time and allow industry to look at how that situation …read more
Source:: Vancouver Sun