Monday, 22 December 2014

Summary: Fish Farm Environmental Laws Damaged by DFO and Harper Government, Updated April 28, 2015

Gathered into one post here is all of what DFO and the Harper Government have done to weaken the laws in Canada and to allow fish farms to dump raw sewage, chemicals and other pollutants into public waters.

The major beneficiaries are the multi-national, multi-billion dollar Norwegian companies Marine Harvest, Cermaq and Grieg Seafood.

1.      Weakened the fish habitat regulations in the Fisheries Act. S-35 and S-36.

2.      Weakened the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act - 2012.

3.      Weakened the science apparatus by firing scientists, and refusing to let them talk about their science in public. 90% of DFO's own scientists are against what DFO is doing, weakening laws and reducing science budgets. This includes weakening laws, letting scientists go and the new and even weaker aquaculture regulations. See:

4.  Weakened the law by allowing fish farms to take over dumping their pollutants into the sea. These are the new, weaker, Aquaculture regs

5.      Weakened NAFTA oversight into fish farm damage to wild salmon. Specifically: That Canada violated its own laws by allowing fish farms to harm wild salmon stocks through the spread of parasites. Canada, the federal government, refused to allow the investigation.

The petition to NAFTA's Commission for Environmental Cooperation, was filed in February 2012 by the Centre for Biological Diversity, the Pacific Coast Wild Salmon Society, the Kwikwasu'tinuxw Haxwa'mis First Nation and the Pacific Coast Federation of Fisherman's Associations. The groups had asked for a fact- finding inquiry into whether Canada was failing to enforce its Fisheries Act by protecting British Columbia's wild salmon.

"This NAFTA process is supposed to shine light on whether environmental laws are being enforced, but the process has become increasingly politicized and it's clear Canada does not want the facts revealed about the damage to wild salmon from industrial fish farms," said Jeff Miller with the Center for Biological Diversity. See:        
6.      Weakened Canada Marine Act. See:  Bill C-43 allows the federal government to exempt ‘port’ lands from the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act and the Species at Risk Act, and to delegate powers to any person, eliminating oversight.

7.      Weakened DFO Conservation and Protection enforcement. DFO enforcement budget and staff numbers in BC are vastly underfunded and understaffed with respect to the rest of Canada, and the salmon enhancement program budget is dumped into the across Canada C&P budget, thus it is only a bargaining chip, when budgets are rationalized annually.

During the Cohen Commission, for example, Conservation and Protection revealed that it was approved for 55 staff to deal with fish farms alone. It was told to take out all of northern BC saltwater and all freshwater hatcheries, and not to talk with the Province’s staff that had previously done the job prior to 2010.

The behind the scenes emails on this show a DFO as dysfunctional as everyone in BC thinks it is (do note most BC residents are on the side of BC DFO staff). Ultimately only 12 staff were received, only 21.8% of what was authorized, and one was sent to Port Hardy, making enforcement activities on fish farms completely ineffective in the view of C&P’s top staff.

One of its Funding and Operational Issues submissions (the shortfall total was $15.639 million plus $1.5 million for capital items) is hilarious if it were not so sad. There is only one boat for the whole province, and it is in disrepair. Here is the kicker: for rigid hull vessels, DFO did not authorize any fuel for the boats – a budget of only $200,000. Pretty much zero oversight for fish farm infractions.

Here is an example from the Cohen Commission document: “C&P was advised that fish farm compliance was nearly 100% and the need for enforcement would be low. After one of the first fish site visits… [the fish farm reported] one dead sea lion in their predator nets. C& P returned with an underwater camera and located 55 dead sea lions in the netting.”

8.      The Index for this Fish Farm News blog will take you to many posts on weakening fish farm laws in Canada. Note particularly the Nancy Greene Raine posts. See:

9. Here is an April 2015 update on the weakened Regs that DFO Minister, Gail Shea is going to bring in, totally disregarding that residents who have to live with fish farms overwhelmingly want them out of the water, or they can go back to Norway:

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