Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Conflict of Interest Continues - DFO Backs Fish Farms Not Wild Salmon

When organizations like the David Suzuki Foundation, Pacific Salmon Foundation, Watershed Watch Salmon Society and Save Our Salmon Marine Conservation Foundation back out of DFO’s Integrated Management of Aquaculture Planning Process (IMAP), you know it is time to once again, as the $26 Million Cohen Commission did, point out that the federal government has no interest in wild Pacific Salmon.

DFO is in conflict with fish farms, Marine Harvest, Grieg Seafood, and Cermaq (which is currently being bought up by Mitsubishi). Please read the letter of the BC based science organizations:

Here is a quote: “As conservation and environmental organizations, we strongly support more rigorous oversight of the aquaculture industry, better protection of the marine environment, and a legitimate advisory process that might actually help DFO, industry and Canada realize these goals. We also know that a large majority of British Columbians agree with us. Sadly, after three years of meetings and written exchanges with DFO, we were recently notified by DFO that the issues we have raised about the process will not be addressed. Faced with entrenched positions and serious flaws in both the IMAP and AMAC processes, we must decline to participate in this “advisory” process.”

You will recall that more than 100,000 people have signed a petition to get fish farms out of the BC ocean and put on land: BC citizens do not want fish farms in our ocean anymore, yet DFO continues its conflict of interest supporting products that BC residents don’t want and don’t buy – 85% of the product has to be shipped out of Canada to the US because we don’t buy it. And there are only 795 actual jobs in aquaculture in BC, that’s how small it is. At less than $61 Million in GDP, (BC Stats paper (Get the PDF here:, fish farms will never be a substantial contributor to the BC economy, in GDP terms.

As they quit, the science organizations said this: “Our main concerns around the proposed AMAC terms of reference—and DFO’s rigidity against implementing needed changes—lie mainly around the skewed composition of the AMAC’s proposed membership, and the absence of any assurance that the process will be informed by sound science advice being made available to AMAC members and DFO regulators.”

DFO’s stocked the deck. On the committee, 9 seats were given to industry and industry aquaculture associations, only 3 for environmental organizations, and 2 for regional districts. Despite repeated requests to balance the committee, DFO’s, Diana Trager, on April 14, 2014 said no.

“DFO also rebuffed calls by us and others to commit to broadening the science advice available to the AMAC. This is a fatal flaw in the process, raising a significant risk that the advisory process will be based on incomplete and potentially biased science advice…Indeed, substantial evidence was tabled throughout the Cohen Inquiry into the Decline of Sockeye Salmon in the Fraser River to support that DFO’s science advice on the impacts of open net-cage aquaculture was overly narrow, often biased, and likely skewed by the Department’s “conflicted” mandate of being both a regulator and promoter of aquaculture.”

Twenty two of Cohen’s 75 recommendations centred on fish farm environmental damage, and getting them out of the water, and for DFO to be stripped of its conflict and get on with saving wild salmon.

“Justice Cohen took particular pains to make a case that science advice on salmon conservation and aquaculture regulation should be broadened to include outside academics and conservation groups. That advice—not to mention most of the Inquiry’s other aquaculture specific recommendations—have seemingly been forsaken by the federal government in the” AMAC structure.

“Even while we continued to negotiate these issues in good faith, DFO and Industry almost unilaterally proceeded with the development of and adoption of what they call a "final" Integrated Management of Aquaculture Plan that clearly sets out their own agenda of Industry expansion—absent any real input from any of the other key interests that have been invited to the table.”

The conflict continues. DFO does not support wild BC salmon. A time is coming when BC will take back authority over wild salmon, and get fish farms out of the water. I hope it is soon.

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