Fish farming fallout

The Conservative Party is fishing for support as it rails against the ruling Liberal's handling of salmon farms.

Conservative Shadow Minister for Fisheries, Oceans, and the Canadian Coast Guard, Cariboo-Prince George MP Todd Doherty, and Deputy Shadow Minister North Okanagan-Shuswap MP Mel Arnold today issued a joint statement in reaction to the Environment Commissioner’s Spring Report on Salmon Farming.

“Today’s report from the Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development examining fisheries management under the Trudeau government confirms that the Liberals are failing to protect pacific salmon,” the statement said.

In a series of new audits released Tuesday, environment commissioner Julie Gelfand takes a closer look at Canada's management of the $1-billion salmon farming industry, which she warns is lacking when it comes to assessing the risk that diseases among farmed fish pose to wild salmon.

The department has no requirement to monitor the health of wild salmon or the status of the ocean floor beneath penned salmon farms, said Gelfand, and the department is also providing better funding for research related to fish farms than it is for research to help monitor their impact.

"The department is at risk of being seen to promote aquaculture over the protection of wild salmon," Gelfand said after the reports were tabled in Parliament.

Arnold and Doherty said the report’s alarming conclusion that the Department of Fisheries and Oceans is not monitoring the health of wild fish is “completely unacceptable.”

In 2015, 40,000 salmon escaped from farms in Newfoundland and Labrador, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. Better standards are in place in British Columbia, where fewer escapes have occurred, the report says.

- with files from The Canadian Press

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