Wednesday, 22 July 2015

Stephen Harper Government Eliminates Environmental Laws for Fish Farms - Updated Sep 3, 2015

This graph says it all about where Norwegian fish farms in Canada (Marine Harvest, Cermaq, Grieg Seafood, et al) are going with farmed salmon, just as they have already done in Norway. Would you eat this fish that has ten times the cancer causing chemicals,dioxins and PCBs than any other food?

[Farmed fish at 41.6 picograms/gram and beef at 4. The information is from the EU and shows the chemical levels in common meat products.]

I don’t think so. But Harper and Gail Shea have just brought in laws that weaken already weakened environmental laws in Canada. See my post:

And see this article from the Huffington Post on weakening the laws: Seventeen ways the Government is Helping Kill Wild Salmon:

And, the Royal Society issued a stinging indictment on the Conservative Governments record on our three ocean coasts in 2013. Now, Gail Shea is weakening the already weakened laws to allow fish farms to do what they want with chemicals. Look once again at the above graph. Now, Ruth Salmon, of the Canadian Aquzculture Industry Alliance, says: “The new regulations are an important step in modernization.”

WRONG. They are a step backwards, and an essential step toward Norwegian farmed fish that doctors are telling people not to eat in Norway. Her words are simply industry spin. It is not modernizing to allow the use of more chemicals. Particularly ones that kill lobsters, like cypermethrin, and others for lice.

Marine Harvest first announced in Norway it would not put smolts out because they thought they would all get killed by lice. Why? Because lice are resistant to all the drugs they use there. Cypermethrin is just one of those chemicals.

“It will provide greater transparency leading to increased public confidence which will allow the industry to grow in Canada.”Says Salmon.

WRONG. Go back and look at the cancer causing chemicals in farmed salmon. What is the case is that the public who have to live with fish farms overwhelmingly reject them, and allowing more drugs, will just make they want them out of the ocean even stronger.

For example, more than 100,000 British Columbians have signed a petition to eliminate expansion and get the farms out of the waters: See: Even the aboriginals in Ahousaht, Clayoquot Sound, have launched a petition and have stated their chiefs let them down and they will not stand for another fish farm in Clayoquot Sound where there are already 22. See the post ahead of this one for the weblink.

The public is angry all over the world, for example, Tasmania, and Nova Scotia. Read this Blacklock article: Go to:, and search for July 16, 2015.

FURTHERMORE, fish farms are not transsparent. It is often the spin that weakening the laws will make things better. And, behind the scenes, the fish farms lawyers argue against release of information to the public.

When I tried to get the amount of money that we Canadians pay to fish farms for their diseased dead fish, the information was held up for 10 months because of a legal injunction against release.

During the Cohen Commission the same prevailed. Fish farms lawyers argued against release of disease testing tables. Cohen required them, and then fish farms changed their tune and trumpeted about how transparent they were.

Then Cohen required the individual tables. Fish farms sent in their lawyers to argue Cohen had no authority to allow public release. He required them anyway. Fish farms are not transparent.

Oh, and 90% of DFO’s own scientists are against what DFO is doing to weaken laws and reduced science budgets:

And I asked the Canadian Food and Inspection Agency for the location of east coast farms with the worst disease, ISA. They sent a note back, Aug 7, 2015 saying I could not get this information without a formal freedom of information request. This is not transparency. Interestingly, it was from Dr. Kim Klottins, who on the Cohen stand got cornered into saying that the CFIA was only interested in foreign trade in BC fish farm products.

Ruth Salmon goes on: "There have been conflicting roles between the provincial and federal governments and this is going to clarify rules and responsibilities."

WRONG. In BC, all of fish farm rules and regulations fall to the federal government. There is no conflict. But, DFO, itself is in conflict, as pointed out by Cohen.

A senator, Thomas McInnis, NB, said: "it's difficult for me to believe that you haven't turned this almost entirely over to the industry." 

RIGHT. The main point is that there is no management of fish farms that hasn't been shown to be in conflict with them - federall, provincial, academics, testing systems and so on. This happens all over the world. An earlier post on this site pointed out that the NOAA in the USA's technical report could not have been more pro-industry if it had just allowed fish farms to write it themselves

McInnes goes on: "There is a tremendous public outcry of concerrn and uncertainty with respect to aquaculture."

RIGHT. This happens all over the world once the public begins to understand the environmental degradation of fish farms. See the petition link above..

The Kevin-Baker-Voakes article goes on to say, that MargotVenton, of Ecojustice, a BC environmental law organization that is currently in court fighting DFOand Marine Harvest's putting infected farmed fish in saltwater in BC: "The regulations seem to authorize the destruction of fish habitat [The fisheries Act also had section 35, 36, changed to weaken environmental laws] when that destruction is for the purpose of putting in a new aquaculture facility."

RIGHT. The fear is that fish farms will begin killing wild salmon because the new regulations appear to allow it. Venton also points out that there is no public release regulation, nor one on public release of the chemicals in farmed fish. And, of course, I have noted that fish farms are not transparent, and the regulatory agencies, the CFIA, for example, also require a freedom of information request, of which mine was held up for 10 months by a behind the scenes fish farm injunction.

The Baker-Voakes article goes on to note that 124 conservationists including six retired federal researchers petitioned Cabinet to withdraw the amendments, saying they were 'gravely concerned' with the consequences.

Pamela Parker for the fish farms says that: "These chemicals have been used in Norway and the UK for ten years. Canada is very late in approving any of these products.

WRONG. Norway lobbied the EU to allow chemicals in farmed fish some ten times above the same chemical levels in other farmed meat/poutry/dairy products. The above graph shows it.

And last year, doctors and scientists in Norway told Norwegians not to eat farmed fish because of the high level of chemicals in them. Go back to the Index to this site for weblink references:


Fish farms say that they operate under the strictest laws in the world in the country they operate in. Fish farms said the same thing in Norway, Scotland, Chile and Canada last year. This cannot be true because the laws in all countries are different.

Furthermore, Chile is publicly, widely acknowledged as the dirtiest country in the world for fish farms. Hence its laws can't be as good as those in Canada, or elsewhere.

But, fish farms argue for reduced strictness, and then use that from one country, they note the UK and Norway for example, to argue that laws have to be weakened in other jurisdictions they operate in this case, Canada. It is a race to the bottom, not 'modernization'.

Subsequent Additions to this Post:


West Coast Environmental Law group's post on the environmental laws weakened by the federal government. See:


Not only have the laws been changed, but frontline staff have and are being removed from protection of fish habitat. In other words, the laws have been removed and the staff who deal with habitat issues have also been removed. See a recent CBC article on the issue:

In other words, conservation and protection staff are pretty much eliminated, so those weakened fish farm laws, are not being enforced because staff has been cut.


U of C professor, Martin Olszynski, in the Journal of Environmental Law and Practice, has published a stinging indictment of the Harper Government decade of eliminating environmental laws, programs and staff.

Here is a text file of the figures, for example, DFO's budget dropped by $80 Million in 2012, $100 million more in cuts are planned. DFO reduced proposals with environmental dimensions from 12,000 in 2001, to 4,000 in 2014. DFO staff for Fisheries Act charges fell to 50 from 300, and staff time allotted dropped to 10,000 hours from 35,000 hours.


After studying reams of data Olszynski consluded that Ottawa has 'all but abandoned' attempts to protect Canada's lakes and rivers.

The paper is published in the Journal of Environmental Law and Practice: Note that you must be a research use, U of C computer, public computer to access the paper.

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