Washington senator wants B.C. to follow suit and phase out net-pen fish farms

An American ban will be less effective in the shared ecosystem of the Salish Sea, senator says

A Washington senator says he wants to see British Columbia join the state in phasing out ocean-based Atlantic salmon farms when the province decides whether to renew farm leases in June.

An American ban will be less effective in the shared ecosystem of the Salish Sea if fish farms continue to operate in Canadian waters, said Democrat Sen. Kevin Ranker.

The Washington state senate and house of representatives have recently passed bills that would phase out net-pen farms when their leases come up for renewal over the next seven years.

“The salmon, the orca whale, the ecosystem doesn’t recognize the international boundary,” Ranker said.

“So what we have to do is manage our transboundary region in a responsible way. And I hope Washington state will pass this legislation and move in this direction and I hope that British Columbia will do the same.”

Each bill passed with about a two-thirds majority. Now the senate and the house are considering each other’s proposed laws.

The bills are expected to pass into law when approved by both the house and the senate.

The house bill also calls for an industry study to be submitted to the legislature by Nov. 1, 2019.

The move to phase out fish farms comes after hundreds of thousands of Atlantic salmon escaped last summer from a farm in Washington state, owned by Canadian company Cooke Aquaculture.

A state review of the farm found the net failed because it was weighed down by 100 tonnes of mussels and debris, due to insufficient maintenance.

Some First Nations and environmentalists in B.C. have protested net-pen fish farms, saying they spread viruses and diseases to wild salmon stocks.

Farm-raised salmon is B.C.’s top agricultural export. There are more than ten times as many fish farms in British Columbia than Washington state.

Jeremy Dunn, spokesman for the B.C. Salmon Farmers Association, said the senator may not be aware of Canadian regulations that govern things like containment.

“From a regulatory perspective, that’s an entirely different country and we have a different regime here,” Dunn said.

“And let’s not forget that salmon farming in B.C. is worth more than a billion and a half dollars to our economy. It’s a well-managed business that supports 6,600 jobs and has done so for many years and has a great future here supported by world-leading science.”

The Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development is responsible for the tenure renewal process in B.C., while the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans is responsible for aquaculture licensing.

Natural Resources Minister Doug Donaldson said in a statement that the B.C. government is committed to protecting wild salmon and the nearly 10,000 jobs that depend on it, and is working with First Nations, the aquaculture industry and the federal government.

“What we all agree on is the importance of protecting wild salmon for the cultural and economic benefits it brings to B.C.,” Donaldson said.

Federal fisheries minister Dominic LeBlanc was not immediately available for an interview.

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee was also unavailable for an interview, but his deputy communications director Tara Lee said in an email that he supports the phase out of net pens for non-native fish.

He believes that a phase out is crucial for wild salmon recovery and tribal treaty rights, Lee said.

However, Inslee believes it’s up to British Columbia’s government to decide what is best for the province, she added.

Amy Smart, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Okanagan Lake levels stay steady but snowpack is growing: officials

Whether or not the tributaries and creeks flood depends on how suddenly the snowpack begins to melt,

Kelowna council approves rental housing project

Plan for former packinghouse site calls for 148 rental units

Kelowna crew knocks down attic fire in Rutland

No one home at the time as Kelowna Fire Department extinguishes small blaze on Cactus Road

Okanagan realtors add voices to anti-speculation tax coalition

This speculation tax is likely to harm the very people the government is trying to protect

Bolt cutters and bear spray used in Kelowna break-in

“Both suspects were taken into police custody…”

Sunshine and above-average temperatures all week

We can expect to enjoy this warm sunshine all week long

As Osoyoos Indian Band flourishes, so too does Okanagan’s wine tourism

Indigenous practices have driven growth of South Okanagan’s wine history and agricultural influence

Penticton robbery trial starts days before accused’s murder trial

Narcotics, cash stolen from pharmacy; accused scheduled for murder trial next week in Abbotsford

Judith Guichon steps down as Lieutenant Governor of B.C.

Election decision didn’t make her best moments from the past six years

Vancouver to rake in $30 million in empty homes tax in first year

The tax is the first of its kind in Canada, and was intended to address the city’s near-zero vacancy rate

Toronto songstress shares indie vibes with Okanagan

Emma Cook will rock Penticton’s The Elite April 28 before she hits Vernon’s Record City April 29

B.C.’s snowpack continues to increase, melting delayed

River Forecast Centre official says sudden melting further into the season could cause flooding

Student produces gun at Princeton Secondary School

Starter pistol confiscated, RCMP are investigating

Another B.C. First Nation voices support for Kinder Morgan pipeline

Simpcw First Nation claims people living on one-third of pipeline route support the project

Most Read