Dear Editor: It cannot be business as usual in the development of the aquaculture industry in Newfoundland and Labrador. While the industry provides employment opportunities it has very serious repercussions for fish stocks, taxpayers and the environment. We must find the balance.
Let’s look at the facts:
1. There have been five cases of infectious salmon anemia which has cost taxpayers tens of millions of dollars.
2. DFO is currently holding consultations on whether Atlantic salmon on the south coast should be designated as “threatened.” Escaped farmed salmon pose a huge risk to our wild salmon and now they have been seen as far west as Burgeo.
3. Sea lice have been deemed a significant concern by government and the industry. How prevalent is sea lice in our province?
4. The Department of Fisheries and Aquaculture is both the regulator of this industry and promoter. This conflict of interest cannot continue as one side will eventually prevail. In British Columbia, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans is responsible for aquaculture, why not here in Newfoundland and Labrador?
Currently the province is seeking input into its outdated aquaculture strategy. For the general public, this can only be shared through a limited questionnaire. People have until Dec. 13, to respond. The consultation website is found at: www.fishaq.gov.nl.ca/aquaculture/Public_Consultations.html.
Please have your say.
Jim Bennett, MHA, Official Opposition critic for Fisheries and Aquaculture