© Star photo by Frank Gale
Bob Diamond believes there’s a gross waste of taxpayers money being put into supporting the fish farming industry in compensating fish farmers for any loss due to salmon anemia.
A report out of Halifax, Nova Scotia this week said communities and conservation organizations are alarmed at the significant public dollars spent on subsidizing poor fish farming practices in Atlantic Canada.
In the last two decades, almost $139 million taxpayer dollars have been spent on “compensating” open-net pen fish farms in New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and Newfoundland for fish infected with ISA or infectious salmon anemia.
The compensation is now provided to the aquaculture industry by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency.
In early 2013, for the first time in Canada’s history, the CFIA no longer required destruction of the infected fish and allowed fish to be grown out and sold without any labeling indicating that the fish were diseased.
Diamond, an environmentalist in Stephenville, said this type of compensation doesn’t happen to any degree in the traditional fishery.
He said if fish harvesters don’t get a good catch, then it’s their tough luck.
“I’m sure people in Port au Port Bay have not been compensated by government for the collapse of their scallop fishery,” he said.
Diamond believes government is looking at the fish farming industry as a saviour for the collapse of wild fish.
He said that’s because the traditional fish industry in Newfoundland is not what it used to be and is not employing as many people as it used to.
“Now government is looking to fish farming and putting a lot of money into it as an alternative to a collapsing traditional fishery and it’s not working,” he said.
He said personally he don’t eat farmed salmon and doesn’t believe its a healthy thing to eat salmon that have a lot of antibiotics in their system.
Diamond said pesticides are used on these fish to try and kill the lice and to him it’s not a healthy product.
He said government would be better off putting that kind of money into restoring the stocks of natural fish in traditional fishery in the province.
He said attempting to restore the natural fishery habitat would be better than putting all of their bucks into the farming of fish.
Diamond said there is no way these fish farmers can lose when they get public money to help them start up these fish farms and then when the stocks become diseased, they’re compensated for their loss.
“It’s a win-win situation for the people who are into fishery aquaculture,” he said. “It’s an ongoing loss for the traditional fishery in Newfoundland, which should be supported rather than the farming.”