Positions On Issues

Making Sense of the Aquaculture Debate:
Putting Wild Fish and Shellfish First

In March 2003, the BC Seafood Alliance wrote to the federal and provincial fisheries Ministers in support of the Pacific Fisheries Resource Conservation Council (PFRCC) recommendations for the protection of wild salmon following the release of its Making Sense of the Aquaculture Debate: An Analysis of Issues Related to Netcage Salmon Farming and Wild Salmon in BC.

The Alliance urged that the PFRCC’s advice and recommendations be applied to all wild fish and shellfish and called on the Ministers to ensure that:

  • The protection of wild fish and shellfish is given priority in government decision-making;
  • The precautionary principle be applied in a much more rigorous way in evaluating the risk of interaction between farming operations and wild stocks;
  • The government and industry undertake a wide-ranging research and monitoring program on interaction of wild/farmed species and ways to mitigate any impacts;
  • The health of all wild marine resources is considered in assessing impacts of farmed operations and siting of farms.

The Alliance believes that Making Sense of the Aquaculture Debate helps move the public debate on aquaculture in a more productive and positive direction. Both levels of government must take up the challenge of mending the shortcomings in governance and communication that the report identifies if we are to move beyond the current acrimonious public debate. We look to both Ministers for the leadership to implement the recommendations and ensure the health and survival of the wild fish and shellfish populations of Canada’s Pacific Coast.

The PFRCC, established to provide strategic advice and information to the governments of Canada and British Columbia on the sustainable use of wild salmon stocks and protection of their habitat, issued the report in January 2003. Making Sense of the Aquaculture Debate takes a look behind the debate, examines the information and assumptions supporting the arguments of opposing interests and deepens the current public understanding about the potential impact of salmon aquaculture on wild salmon, particularly, the impacts of sea lice, bacteria and viruses and Atlantic and Pacific salmon escapes. In a subsequent advisory to the federal and provincial fisheries Ministers and to the Canadian public, the Hon. John Fraser, chair of the PFRCC, makes a number of recommendations designed to ensure that government policy reflects the salmon conservation principle most valued by Canadians—"wild salmon must come first."