On March 23, 2013, NDP Environment Critic and candidate, Rob Fleming, was on CBC radio responding to the BC Liberal announcement that they agreed with the Cohen Commission and would place a moratorium on salmon farm expansion off Campbell River.
CBC RADIO TRANSCRIPT
NDP ENVIRONMENT CRITIC ROB FLEMING ISN'T IMPRESSED.
"they've been missing in action on this file for so long that to say on a Friday afternoon six months after justice Cohen delivered his report that they deign to agree with his recommendations just shows that they have not paid considerable attention to this."
FLEMING SAYS THE NDP WOULD INITIATE A REVIEW OF THE ISSUE INCLUDING LOOKING AT BANNING OPEN NET FISH FARMS ALONG KEY SALMON MIGRATION ROUTES.
STEPHEN SMART - CBC NEWS - VICTORIA. ”
When I heard Fleming speak, I thought WOW finally, we are going to get the chance to restore wild salmon to the benefit of all of Canada, future generations, First Nations, the whales, bears, eagles and the coastal economy. The thought that a government in BC would finally support wild salmon and all that they feed including us was really thrilling. The possibility of prosperity loomed large for the boarded up town of Port Hardy, the greatest natural port on northern Vancouver Island. Echo Bay, Gold River, Alert Bay, Port McNeill, Sointula, Kingcome could all thrive again if wild salmon poured down this coast fueling tourism, fishing, food-security. The First Nation elders with barely enough salmon to can would fill their shelves again with a food essential to their health.
And then, like the tide going out, barely perceptible at first, the NDP party made it clear star candidate, Rob Fleming, had spoke out of turn and has been told to behave. The freshly minted NDP Fisheries policy literally that put salmon farms first, sets a course that conflicts with itself and the NDP’s previous position to remove salmon farms from BC waters.
Marine Harvest, who just put diseased Atlantic salmon in net pens where their virus will pass over the gills of the Fraser sockeye, must be smiling. Marine Harvest, you did it again, you must think British Columbians and their representatives are sheep, always trotting obediently in whatever direction you bark.
Whoever wrote the NDP fisheries policy feels certain British Columbians don’t read the news because astonishingly they thought telling us the NDP would work with DFO would inspire confidence. However, Mark Hume just published an article in BC’s leading newspaper that DFO refuses to release key information that would protect Fraser sockeye facing extinction. Thus, he explains, DFO is preventing implementation of the Wild Salmon Policy – a nine-year-old, much touted policy that would restore wild salmon to BC that has been starved, neglected, and banished except when dragged out for brief moments and held up as a shield to bolster DFO’s reputation. To this day, DFO continues to hide this data and so the 2013 fishery plan is being assembled in the dark assuring extinction of salmon that some First Nations will never see again.
In this video you see senior DFO scientist, Simon Jones admitting he detected a highly lethal European salmon virus that is appearing wherever Atlantic salmon are farmed, in the most endangered Fraser sockeye stock and did nothing about it. When the NDP say they want to work with DFO, one can only expect more of this cover-up.
Courtroom footage of Dr. Simon Jones, a senior research scientist at DFO suppressing evidence of ISA positive results in BC salmon. Watch the film at http://salmonconfidential.ca/
Clearly, DFO is not working to protect wild salmon, so the NDP telling us they are committed to working with DFO tells us we are the losers again.
The NDP statement that they will work with DFO to implement the Cohen Recommendations to support sustainable aquaculture, is a skillfully assembled, comforting communication, but is this even possible? Cohen said: “I therefore conclude that the potential harm posed to Fraser River sockeye salmon from salmon farms is serious or irreversible. Disease transfer occurs between wild and farmed fish, and I am satisfied that salmon farms along the sockeye migration route have the potential to introduce exotic diseases and to exacerbate endemic diseases that could have a negative impact on Fraser River sockeye.” Cohen then goes on to tell DFO to remove salmon feedlots from the Campbell River area by 2020 unless DFO can provide documented evidence they are not harming sockeye (Recommendation #19) and he recommends single-year licences (#24). But this is “just not acceptable” to the Norwegians:
“one of the things we are looking for is, obviously, longer-term licences. It’s just not acceptable to have millions and millions of dollars invested in the industry for one-year fishing licences,” (Mary Ellen Walling, BC Salmon Farmers Association, Pacific Coastal inflight magazine SOAR, March 2013, Pg. 16)
When I met with the CEO of Marine Harvest in Norway, in 2009, she candidly explained to me that she could not remove any salmon farms from wild salmon migration routes because she was duty-bound to make the company's share price rise four times a year. The Norwegian companies that own 98% of BC’s salmon feedlots cannot afford to move their farms off wild salmon migration routes. The NDP position on salmon farms is actually impossible, impractical. This policy does not fit the NDP slogan for this election:
In my 20-plus year experience of watching governments deal with salmon feedlots – whenever there are conflicting mandates, like this NDP policy, the fish farmers win - no question about it!
Marine Harvest is farming European diseased salmon on the Fraser sockeye migration route right now even though Section 56 (c) of the Fisheries Act explicitly prohibits this:
The Minister may issue a licence [to transfer fish] if the fish do not have any disease or disease agent that may be harmful to the protection and conservation of fish:
NDP policy reversal their own recommendation
In November 2005, Gordon Campbell was taking so much heat from British Columbians on salmon feedlots that he bought himself time by forming the Special Committee on Sustainable Aquaculture and populating it with NDP MLAs. He threw them into the arena and let them take the heat for a few years.
Shane Simpson, Claire Trevena, Scott Fraser, Robin Austin, Gregor Robertson and others spent 18 months, in 43 days of meetings in 21 communities listening to 275 people testify, reading 814 written submissions and calling 80 expert witnesses including myself. Their terms of reference included:
1. The economic and environmental impacts of the aquaculture industry in BC
2. The economic impact of aquaculture on BC’s coastal and isolated communities.
3. Sustainable options for aquaculture in BC that balance economic goals with environmental imperatives, focusing on the interaction between aquaculture, wild fish and the marine environment.
Considering all they heard and the economy of BC their final report stated:
All recommendations put forth by this committee take into account the ‘Precautionary Principle’ as we are dealing with a common public resource. The Precautionary Principle recognizes that the absence of full scientific certainty should not be used to delay actions or decisions when faced with threats of serious or irreversible harm.
These NDP MLAs recommended:
A rapid, phased transition to ocean-based closed containment begin immediately. Within three years ocean-based closed containment must be developed. Once developed, industry must transition to this technology within the subsequent two years.
A “watchman” program should be established under which First Nations in whose territory fish farms are located are contracted to monitor sites for best practice
In the transition to ocean-based closed containment, all salmon farms should be stocked in a way
that prevents conflict with the migratory patterns of vulnerable wild stocks.
Particular attention must be paid to safeguarding the migration of smolts in the Kingcome/Wakeman route
Reporting can no longer rely on industry policing itself. The government as the regulator, must conduct random checks without notice to any fish farm
If these recommendations, paid for by the people of BC and written by the people whom British Columbians voted into office, had been followed:
1. the last open net salmon feedlot would have gotten out of the ocean last year.
2. First Nations would have been employed to watchdog the industry
3. The Norwegians would have gone home because they are only here for the free flush
4. British Columbians would have had the opportunity to develop aquaculture on land including a much more brilliant approach than farming salmon on a coast where salmon grow naturally.
But the Norwegian companies using the BC coast did not want to clean up and take responsibility for their manure in a tank. Some of BC’s biggest environmental groups tried to make the transition gentle for them and they report Marine Harvest “reneged” on the agreement.
Definition of reneged- failed to honour, backed out, broke their promise.
Now that the NDP could very well come into power and make all the changes they recommended, even back-date them to remove the industry in immediately, I am not hearing a squeak about this well-researched plan that we paid for.
Touring Salmon Confidential
I have spent the past month touring the film Salmon Confidential to packed theaters, and auditoriums. People are angry when see how government scientists and bureaucrats behaved on the stand at the Cohen Commission. They want to know why this great wrong is being done to this coast and they want to know if these viruses will harm them. I don’t know the answer to these questions. They also want to know how to stop this. I do know the answer to that question. Every salmon feedlot has a Licence of Occupation issued by the Province of BC and this Licence can be terminated in 60 days, with no compensation to the company, if it is in the public interest. In two months, one of the greatest impacts on wild salmon could be removed. This is the one impact that can actually be reversed rapidly and in a few weeks a political party who recommended that salmon feedlots get out of the ocean by last year, will be in the power and capable of doing exactly this.
However, in the space of a few weeks, the NDP have reversed their position from looking at “banning” salmon farms from key wild salmon migration routes to working with DFO to support aquaculture, while Marine Harvest has demonstrated how weak DFO is by placing diseased Atlantic salmon on the Fraser sockeye migration route in broad daylight. The DFO that the NDP want to work with have not lifted a finger to protect wild salmon and remain in possession of documents that the Globe and Mail says are required to protect Fraser sockeye stocks headed for extinction.
Only you, the public can save wild salmon and the BC economy from a replay of the devastation of the cod collapse in eastern Canada. DFO has never apologized for that, they have never told us how that happened and how that is not going to happen here. They oversaw destruction of one of the greatest natural food-resources on earth and the NDP have promised to work with them on wild salmon in BC.
Visit your candidates election offices right now, and every day and tell them “banning salmon farms from key wild salmon migration routes” is a much better idea than the convoluted meaningless official NDP policy. Rob Fleming was right and needs to speak up. Sign the petition with over 30,000 people at the top of this blog, watch the trailer below and then the full length film.