Fisheries and Oceans Canada's First year as Primary Regulator for British Columbia's Aquaculture Industry
In December 2010, Fisheries and Oceans Canada assumed primary responsibility for the regulation of the aquaculture industry in B.C., including the licensing of marine finfish, shellfish, and freshwater aquaculture sites, as well as enhancement facilities. Staff were hired to implement and undertake the federal B.C. Aquaculture Regulatory Program, with the majority of positions located on Vancouver Island. The program provides economic stimulus to coastal communities, as its employees work to ensure that the aquaculture industry is operating in an environmentally sustainable fashion.
After its first full year in operation, the program has achieved success in a number of areas:
- A total of 104 inspections were conducted at marine finfish aquaculture sites by departmental field biologists and fishery officers to assess compliance with their site’s conditions of licence, and applicable acts and regulations;
- Conditions of licence inspections were conducted at 140 shellfish and 22 freshwater aquaculture operations, and fishery officers also conducted 18 compliance inspections;
- More than 65 marine finfish site health audits (including sea lice audits) were conducted;
- Benthic (ocean bottom) environmental audits were conducted at 23 operational marine finfish farm sites;
- An enhanced Atlantic Salmon Watch Program has surveyed six rivers for the potential presence of Atlantic salmon escapes;
- Two new freshwater aquaculture licences were issued;
- A pre-site audit was conducted for one proposed new farm site; and
- A total of 12 marine finfish licence applications and amendments were processed.
In 2011, the Department also initiated consultations on the development of draft Integrated Management of Aquaculture Plans. These consultations will continue in 2012: http://www.pac.dfo-mpo.gc.ca/consultation/aquaculture/index-eng.htm
As part of its commitment to transparency, the Department undertakes regular public reporting of fish health, sea lice levels, disease presence, and other data on the environmental performance of the aquaculture industry in B.C. Information is regularly posted to the Department’s website: http://www.pac.dfo-mpo.gc.ca/aquaculture/index-eng.htm
The British Columbia aquaculture industry provides an estimated 6,000 jobs and over $224 million in wages for British Columbians. Salmon farming has grown to take its place as the province's largest agricultural export, generating $800 million in economic output. Cultured shellfish production has reached 10,000 tonnes with a landed value of $21.7 million.
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