Sunday, 29 April 2018

Auditor General: DFO, You Don't Cut It, Wake Up

The federal Auditor General recently put out a report on fish farming in Canada, finding DFO is badly remiss, and failing its responsibilities. Below you will find some text of the summary and comments.
The website for the entire report is:


 "Report 1—Salmon Farming

What we examined (see Focus of the audit)

Salmon farming, also referred to as salmon aquaculture, is the farming of salmon for commercial purposes. In Canada, it is carried out primarily along the coasts of British Columbia and the Atlantic provinces. In 2016, the salmon aquaculture industry in Canada was valued at $1 billion."

Comment: 1. This fails to even consider that the industry should be on land.  2. The BC industry was $469 M in 2013 and the east is smaller, so my question is: who drew up this figure? DFO? Fish Farms? It is an important issue as DFO/Fish Farms can be as much as 300% higher than other sources. 3. Here is a post on the various issues in fish farms. It received several thousand page views when first put up. It has the Sea Around Us document as link 7 on the issue of fish farms killing fish rather than providing them:
Quote: "Canada is the fourth largest producer of farmed salmon after Norway, Chile, and the United Kingdom. The Canadian salmon farming industry is considered to have significant potential for growth due to Canada’s long coastline, cold water temperatures, and proximity to the United States market."

Comment: 1. Canada may be a distant fourth. Norway is over a million metric tonnes per year, Chile about half that - when not being destroyed by sequential catastrophes, while BC is less than 100,000 MT. 2. The real reason that fish farms have come to Canada is that they were unhappy with the stiffer regulations in Norway, and thus looked for places around the world where the laws were weaker. That included Canada, Chile, Scotland, etc. I follow almost 20 countries every day that have fish farms, and they all have the same problems everyone else has. 3. Proximity was a good thing, particularly as Norway was charged a 26% duty for dumping fish in the USA, until a couple of years ago, when the duty was rescinded. Last year, it dumped smaller fish in the USA, choosing to harvest them, rather than have lice eat them. Note that they did it against their own operations in Canada. Furthermore, with the huge Atlantic Sapphire plant being built in Florida, and several other on land farms in the USA, the BC industry is likely to fail. 4. Atlantic Canada has too cold water and superchill kills fish farm fish during colder months. 5. The public on both the Atlantic and Pacific coasts of Canada are dead set against in-ocean fish farms. The protest just continues growing, for them to be put on land.
Quote: "This audit focused on whether Fisheries and Oceans Canada and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency managed the risks associated with salmon aquaculture in a manner that protected wild fish."

Comment: I could go for days on this one, but I'd say that DFO has done little, and leave it at that.

Quote: "Why we did this audit

This audit is important because salmon aquaculture is a growing industry in Canada that provides an important source of fish, given declining wild fish stocks. Globally, aquaculture now provides half of all fish for human consumption. Raising farmed salmon in net pens in the ocean has potential effects on wild fish that need to be understood and addressed, as appropriate."

Comment: 1. The reason that fish stocks are declining is that the fish farm industry has destroyed 19 of the top 20 global forage fish stocks in the world. See the Sea Around Us document, Daniel Pauley/Tim Cashion. 2. The reason salmonids are declining, is: lack of habitat restoration, DFO, fish farms and climate change. We need to put fish farms on land, to stop the decline. 3. As for science, it has been ongoing in BC for the past 30 years, and around the world for as much as 50 years, without solving anything. 4. We don't need more science, just put fish farms on land. And raise a herbivore rather than a carnivore, and thus a net positive gain in protein in the world. 5. The facts are that fish farms take the fish out of the mouths of the third world and feed them to a fish for the mouths of first world because they are the only people who can afford them. This is in the Sea Around Us document.

Quote: "What we concluded

"We concluded that Fisheries and Oceans Canada did not adequately manage the risks associated with salmon aquaculture consistent with its mandate to protect wild fish. Although the Department had some measures to control the spread of infectious diseases and parasites to wild fish in British Columbia, it had not made sufficient progress in completing the risk assessments for key diseases that were required to understand the effects of salmon aquaculture on wild fish. It also had not defined how it would manage aquaculture in a precautionary manner in the face of scientific uncertainty. Moreover, the Department did not adequately enforce compliance with aquaculture regulations to protect wild fish.
The Canadian Food Inspection Agency had measures to prevent the introduction and spread of infectious diseases with respect to aquaculture. However, the Department and the Agency had not clarified roles and responsibilities for managing emerging diseases. This lack of clarification created a risk that potential emerging diseases affecting wild salmon would not be adequately addressed."
Comment: 1. This speaks for itself, and you will find lots of posts on this site, that list the problems with DFO and the CFIA, particularly the fraudulent signing a contract with BCMAL because they thought it would bring back a negative answer regarding diseases in BC. Here is one of those posts:

Quote: "Overall, we found that Fisheries and Oceans Canada had not made sufficient progress in completing risk assessments for key diseases, which were required to assess the effects of salmon farming on wild fish.

This finding matters because the Department committed to conducting scientific studies and assessments to understand the effects of aquaculture on wild fish.
Recommendation. Fisheries and Oceans Canada should conduct its planned disease risk assessments by 2020 to increase its knowledge of the effects of aquaculture on wild salmon, as it committed to doing in its response to the Cohen Commission report." 

Comment: 1. There is the Kristi Miller lab looking into testing 45 different pathogens at one time and that is good. On the other hand, science is a trap. It hasn't lead to taking fish farms out of the water in any of the 20 countries that I follow daily. Yet, people from Norway to Tasmania hate fish farms. 2. Yes, the Cohen Commission has not been answered to, even though DFO says it has made 'progress'. 3. The Auditor General asked me to do an Environmental Petition on fish farms in 2013, and this is it, with DFO responding with mush:

Quote: "Preventing the spread of infectious diseases and parasites

Overall, we found that although Fisheries and Oceans Canada and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency had put in place some measures to mitigate the spread of infectious diseases and parasites from farmed salmon, key elements were missing. For example, Fisheries and Oceans Canada’s program for auditing the health of farmed salmon in British Columbia was out of date, and the Department had limited laboratory capacity to provide timely surveillance test results. In addition, the Department and the Agency had not clarified roles and responsibilities for managing emerging disease risks to mitigate the potential impacts of salmon farming on wild fish.
This finding matters because diseases and parasites present in salmon farms in the ocean may pose a risk to wild fish.
Recommendation. Fisheries and Oceans Canada and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency should clarify their roles and responsibilities for managing emerging disease risks to mitigate the potential impacts of salmon farming on wild fish.
Recommendation. Fisheries and Oceans Canada should determine and communicate how it applies the precautionary approach to managing aquaculture when there is uncertainty about the effects of aquaculture on wild fish. The Department should also clearly articulate the level of risk to wild fish that it accepts when enabling the aquaculture industry." 
Comment: 1. Just so you know, the first fish farm disease, that we know about, BKD, or Bacterial Kidney Disease, hit chum salmon in the Broughton Archipelago in 1989, Viner River (See: A Stain Upon The Sea, page 202). That is 30 years of diseases. 2. If DFO and CFIA have yet to sort out their roles, this means that there are years to go before moving to the science stage, that will go on for decades and not lead anywhere. 3. I agree with the recommendation on the precautionary principle and 'clear articulation' that DFO is managing Pacific salmon into extinction, something that has been going on for 40 years. 4. Currently DFO is not requiring testing for PRV, that causes HSMI, and it actively suing Alex Morton, so it can pass the responsibility to fish farms in BC, who currently have more than 80% of their fish/smolts with PRV. And, of course, there is a Norwegian strain of ISA in BC, that DFO doesn't know about.

Quote: "Controlling the effects of drugs and pesticides

Overall, we found that Fisheries and Oceans Canada did not conduct adequate analysis to know whether its rules for drug and pesticide deposits at salmon farms would minimize harm to wild fish. In addition, the Department did not define limits on the amount of drugs or pesticides that could be deposited, or confirm the accuracy of information self-reported by aquaculture companies.
This finding matters because drugs and pesticides used in aquaculture operations can harm wild fish, especially those living on the ocean floor.
Recommendation. Fisheries and Oceans Canada should establish thresholds for the deposit of drugs and pesticides into net pens to more effectively minimize harm to wild fish.
Recommendation. Fisheries and Oceans Canada should develop and implement an approach to validate the accuracy of information that aquaculture companies report regarding their drug and pesticide deposits."
Comment: This sounds good, but means that laws, that fish farms say are strict are actually full of holes. You will find a half dozen articles on this site on the weak laws in Canada. Even in Norway, where fish farms left, the piles of fecal matter can be 15 metres deep under fish farms, and fish farm companies left there because the laws were too strict. Furthermore, DFO has said it wants to have a new Aquaculture Act, even while it wants to hand control of things over to fish farms, like these two issues. Note that Cermaq has just been given approval for using 2 million litres of hydrogen peroxide as a lice killer in Clayoquot Sound, BC. The reference for this is in the current BAD NEWS BITES post:

Here is a post on weak laws in Canada. There are a half dozen on this site. Here is a round up Post:

Quote: "Controlling fish escapes

Overall, we found that Fisheries and Oceans Canada had not set a national standard for the quality and maintenance of equipment, such as nets and anchoring systems, to reduce the risk of fish escapes.
This finding matters because preventing fish escapes is important to minimize the risk of causing negative genetic effects in wild salmon. This is especially important in Atlantic Canada, where escaped farmed salmon have begun to interbreed with declining wild salmon populations.
Recommendation. Fisheries and Oceans Canada should initiate discussions with its counterparts in the Atlantic provinces to address the quality and maintenance of equipment on salmon farms to prevent fish escapes."

Comment:  I have written a half dozen posts on this site on the issue of escapes/leakage - Volpe as well as Langer. The typical rates found in the science for escape/leakage range from .3% to 5%. How big is that? Well, in BC at the lowest rate it is a huge number of fish: 85 farms X 600,000 fish/farm X .3% = 153,000 farmed fish per crop. It actually could be much higher than this, as the most recent fish farm industry stats show about 115 farms operating. Still this is a staggering number and Volpe has shown that of rivers with multiple salmonid species in them, 97% of Van Isle rivers have farmed salmon. This is shocking.

See this post on DFO's attempt to not help the scientists, and to 'fib' on the escape issue:

5. In Atlantic Canada, every river within 300 km of a fish farm has farmed Atlantics in it, that's how bad the situation is. 

Quote: "Enforcing and reporting on compliance

Overall, we found that the Department did not sufficiently enforce its Aquaculture Activities Regulations to minimize harm to wild fish. It also did not always publish detailed or up-to-date information about such matters as disease outbreaks.
This finding matters because enforcement is important to ensuring that aquaculture companies are complying with regulations designed to protect wild fish. Publishing information about disease outbreaks and compliance with regulations is important to building public confidence in government regulation of the industry.
Recommendation. Fisheries and Oceans Canada should more effectively enforce aquaculture regulations and pursue additional enforcement measures.
Recommendation. Fisheries and Oceans Canada should provide timely public reports with detailed information on companies’ drug and pesticide deposits, and on the health of farmed fish in British Columbia."

Comment:  If you read Randy Nelson's Poachers, Polluters and Politics, (2014) you will find that DFO  never did and does not now have enough enforcement officers to do the job. Nelson is a former Director of Conservation and Protection, with DFO. So the AG's suggestion is good, but don't think DFO will do anything about it.

End of Summary: Entity Responses to Recommendations

The audited entities agree with our recommendations, and have responded (see List of Recommendations).

Related Information

Report of the
Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development
Type of product
Completion date
21 December 2017
Tabling date
24 April 2018
Related audits

For more information

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