fish farm siting criteria & politics

Discussion in 'Conservation, Fishery Politics and Management.' started by agentaqua, Mar 17, 2008.

  1. agentaqua

    agentaqua Well-Known Member

    A bit of a potential insight into the process for open net-cage site applications for some of those impacted or interested in the process...

    The Province of BC, through Pat Bell's office (the Ministry of Agriculture and Lands) is currently the responsible department that quarterbacks the application through the other regulatory agencies - and is responsible for developing the site application process.

    Once the applicant fills-out the applicable forms and deposits the fees, the BCMAL reviews the application and sends it on to other departments (DFO, EC, BCE, etc).

    Ultimately, the application ends-up at DFO, often where ex-fish farmers review the CEAA application. What you say? How did that happen? Well, you need to look at the history of the Office of the Commissioner for Aquaculture Development (OCAD), CEAA, and the moratorium that was lifted in 2003 By John van Dongen.

    BC lifted the moratorium in 2003 without consulting the appropriate federal departments in 2003, after fish farm companies contributed to many newly-elected BC liberal ministers, incl. van Dongen. It caught many departments, including Coast Guard, by surprise.

    Before the moratorium was lifted, nobody had to worry about the regulatory process too much. Once the moratorium was lifted, Coast Guard got nervous about their liabilities through the Navigable Waters Protection Act (their mandate), and declared that since physical structures were a navigation hazard, the new site applications now had to go through a Canadian Environmental Assessment (CEA).

    How this was now to develop was anybodies guess, and so the applications were held-up, which got the fish farming companies irate. The BC Salmon Farmers Association applied pressure to Bastion - the Commissioner for Aquaculture Development. Who is this, you say?

    Yves Bastien was appointed (and not hired through a competitive process) Commissioner for Aquaculture Development on December 17, 1998 in response to the federal Liberal Party’s 1994 election platform document: "Securing our Future Together", which stated that improved support for the aquaculture industry from the federal government and its agencies would foster more rapid growth of the industry. Yves has sat on various boards of directors, including the Aquaculture Association of Canada (AAC), the Canadian Aquaculture Industry Alliance (CAIA), and the World Aquaculture Society (WAS).

    Since then, and in response to the political pressure from the British Columbia Salmon Farmers Association - the Office of the Commissioner for Aquaculture Development (OCAD) reassigned (in 2003) 14 federal staff, including BC MAFF and industry funded biologists to review and fast-track the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act (CEAA) applications for the impending net-cage expansion.

    Is this an issue? Is there a conflict of interest?

    Under section 61(2) of the CEA Act, the Federal Minister of the Environment is responsible for the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency (CEA) and the referrals, but the Commissioner for Aquaculture Development is now in charge of the aquaculture net-cage site applications and has dictated that the applications should go through a screening process only, which then omits mandatory public involvement and scoping (determining geographic boundaries of impacts) during the assessment process.

    This is a particularly relevant question since OCAD’s mandate ( states that OCAD will promote the interests of the industry by development of more supportive and pro-active policies for aquaculture and enhanced leadership for aquaculture initiatives within government. This would appear to be a conflict of interest, and incompatible with the intent of the CEA Act.

    Additionally, the Commissioner for Aquaculture Development is part of the Ministry of Fisheries and Oceans, while the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act is under the responsibility of the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency, which is part of the Ministry of the Environment. How did the Commissioner for Aquaculture Development legally assume responsibility for the CEAA referrals? Was a “Memoranda of Understanding” (MOU) signed between the two federal departments giving one jurisdiction over the other responsibilities? If an MOU exists, who signed it (e.g. Deputy Minister?), and what were the reasons given for the departmental change?

    Then there are serious issues with the siting process itself. It is basically a sham.

    The current site applications do not identify things such as larger oceanographic patterns of water circulation, or smolt migration patterns. Scotland not only accepts sea lice transfer to wild stocks as a reality - but uses Canadian modeling technology (i.e. Saucier et al.) to model sea lice plumes and oceanographic circulation patterns in Scotland. So, obviously there has been Canadian scientists within DFO working with Scottish scientists trying to grapple with the problem, there.

    Yet DFO still denies it is a problem here, back in Canada.

    Instead site applications only look at effects that are within an arbitrary and scientifically indefensible 1 km radius. This speaks to the lack of scope and small scale included in the assessment process, both of which are inappropriate given the wide scope and large scale of potential impacts.

    The assumption for the 1 km radius is presumably that fish only swim 1 km, or maybe fish are most experienced with the metric system, verse the standard English system.

    The reality is that many inland salmon smolts swim tens, if not hundreds of km downstream to the ocean, and potentially circulate thousands of km first South to North along the coast, then out to the Alaska gyre, and back again along the same route.

    The reality is if scoping was included, it would have to be accepted that fish do swim - that they swim more than 1km, and that they swim into Alaska waters. This means that CEAA open net-cage applications would then be bumped into the highest CEAA process - the panel review, due to transboundary effects - and the Alaskans would then be invited to participate on the board. Alaska - where open net-cage Atlantic salmon aquaculture is illegal.

    Anyone wish to add anything in this thread?
  2. Red Monster

    Red Monster Well-Known Member

    You have an incredible understanding of the way our governments have covered things up for the fish farmers. It's a huge conflict of interest.

    Will someone need to sue government in order to get any action?

    Next election, we need to get an anti-fishfarm rally together!
  3. Red Monster

    Red Monster Well-Known Member

    You have an incredible understanding of the way our governments have covered things up for the fish farmers. It's a huge conflict of interest.

    Will someone need to sue government in order to get any action?

    Next election, we need to get an anti-fishfarm rally together!
  4. sockeyefry

    sockeyefry Guest


    The licensing and review process is much more involved and expensive than you make it sound. Listening to your spin on it makes me think that it is a big government conspiracy. Who are the ex fish farmers who do the CEEA screening for DFO?
    The "filling out the applicable forms" takes about 3 years, which is a little more in depth than you portray it.
    The link to John Cummins is nothing more than his opinion. It basically proves nor provides any relevence.
    Again, just because something it being done that you do not like, you attack it by making a conspiracy where none exists. Ever work for Micheal Moore. If not he could use you on his next fantasy, I mean documentary
  5. sockeyefry

    sockeyefry Guest


    The licensing and review process is much more involved and expensive than you make it sound. Listening to your spin on it makes me think that it is a big government conspiracy. Who are the ex fish farmers who do the CEEA screening for DFO?
    The "filling out the applicable forms" takes about 3 years, which is a little more in depth than you portray it.
    The link to John Cummins is nothing more than his opinion. It basically proves nor provides any relevence.
    Again, just because something it being done that you do not like, you attack it by making a conspiracy where none exists. Ever work for Micheal Moore. If not he could use you on his next fantasy, I mean documentary
  6. agentaqua

    agentaqua Well-Known Member

    Ah...sockeyefry. figured you'd nibble. couldn't stay away from this forum, eh?

    What do you think about some of the points?

    1/ Do you think that DFO should be promoting the fish farms? Shouldn't that be industry's job? We already have a federal department - Industry Canada - whose mandate it is to accommodate industry, while DFO's mandate is to uphold the Fisheries Act and protect the public's fishery resource? Think we shouldn't address these conflicts? Think we should turn away from the Sponsorship scandal and the Airbus/Mulrooney/Schriber affair, too - because none of these are in the publics interest?

    2/ What about the siting criteria - and the protection of the publics resource? Think we should let any industry do whatever they want? What about the 1km radius? Think it is science-based? Think it's "scientific" and "defensible"? Think it addresses the wild/cultured stock interactions? Think it is "precautionary"? What about the fact that we do not model sea lice plumes here in Canada, yet it is routine in Norway and Scotland?

    Come-on sockeyefry - don't run away yet - we haven't addressed any of these questions...
  7. finaddict

    finaddict Well-Known Member

    Anyone got any popcorn?
  8. KoneZone

    KoneZone Member

    ..... Sockeyefry killer.....My Pop's always said "If it walks like a Duck, quacks like a Duck and smells like a Duck. Then it's most likely a Duck" Just say no to Phish Phlem!
  9. Nimo

    Nimo Member

    I had some popcorn shrimp, but even that was farmed. I put it out with the garbage to keep the bears away. :D
  10. sockeyefry

    sockeyefry Guest


    On number 1, I agree with you. DFO shouldn't have the 2 hats to wear. I figure that Agriculture department would also be a better choice, seeing as it is farming.

    I also agree wityh you that criteria should be stringent, with a strong basis in science. In other words I do not think that a farm should be sited in an area that is not suitable. However, I also think that the decision has to be based in facts and not hearsay or opinion.

    Actually it is in the farmer best interest to select the best site and also to maintain it. After all it is his business which will suffer from any degradation.

    It is also in the countries best interest to use its resources for the betterment of its citizens. The trick is to use them in such a way as to promote sustainability.
  11. agentaqua

    agentaqua Well-Known Member

    Wow, sockeyefry. You're going to dissapoint other people on this forum if you start agreeing with me now. They even had popcorn arranged and everything. You're not secretly with the David Suzuki Foundation, are you?

    I notice that you are not only responding to specific points, but are agreeing with them (i.e. point #1). You also state that:

    That means that you agree with point #2, as well - the 1km radius, and the siting process itself - is basically a sham, because it is based on the 1km radius. Michael Moore did not develop this fantasy criteria; DFO, the province, and the fish farmers did.

    Which leads to the next point - fish farmers in DFO drag.

    Hey sockeyefry,

    You asked for an example of members of the fish farming industry working the habitat referrals? Here’s one for you:

    Ron M.J. Ginetz, who is a career DFO bureaucrat, who is part of the Pacific Region Habitat Management Division as a “Senior Advisor”:,ou=RDG-DGR,ou=PAC-PAC,ou=DFO-MPO,o=GC,c=CA

    Ginetz spent more than two years working for the BC Salmon Farmers Association, while continuing to draw a DFO paycheque (, While Ron was on “special assignment” to the BC Salmon Farmers Association wrote in a report in May 2002 called the “On the Risk of Colonization of Atlantic Salmon in BC Waters”. It used to be housed on the BC Salmon Farmers homepage (, but now has been removed. I’m guessing because it became too embarrassing to keep the evidence of ignorance around. His report came to the conclusion that “the risk of Atlantic salmon colonization in British Columbia from domesticated, farm escapees is low – if not extremely low.”

    What is interesting here is that when Ginetz’s non-peer reviewed report for the salmon farmers came out late 2002, he disagrees with John Volpe’s peer-reviewed conclusions in “Competition among juvenile Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar) and steelhead (Oncorhynchus mykiss): relevance to invasion potential in British Columbia . 2000. John P. Volpe, Bradley R. Anholt, and Barry W. Glickman. Can. J. Fish. Aquat. Sci. 58: 197–207 (2001)”.

    Volpe found that “we suggest that Atlantic salmon may be capable of colonizing and persisting in coastal British Columbia river systems that are underutilized by native species, such as the steelhead.” Since then – he has been proven correct in many streams in the northeastern part of Vancouver Island.

    Additionally interesting is the fact that Ron wrote a memo to his boss (A.F. Lill) way back in February 1991, where he states: "In my view it is only a matter of time before we discover that Atlantics are gaining a foothold in BC (residency), or in Washington State". He then goes onto ask:" Do we prepare public/user groups for that possibility, and strategically plant the seed now, or do we downplay the idea and deal with the situation if and when it occurs".

    In other words - do we start damage control now, or lie until we get caught.

    Ginetz's memo also prompts another question: "Was his boss (A.F. Lill) in agreement with Ron's deliberate attempts to deceive the public?".

    Hard to say - except that it is interesting that A.F. Lill has rather obvious conflicts of interests in that he has his own consulting company that gets contracts from DFO:

    Is this normal for top-level DFO bureaucrats?

    I find it odd that A.F. Lill is also the Co-ordinator for the Greater Georgia Basin Steelhead Recovery Plan. How can 1 man who is getting money for steelhead recovery, work with a man who wants to lie about the effects of escaped Atlantics - especially when escaped Atlantics will have the most effects on runs of wild steelhead - due to their instream life history requirements? If anyone would understand what Ginetz's veiled question as to the effects of escaped Atlantics in stream - it would be someone who knows steelhead - someone like Lill.

    Want another example?

    How about Malcolm Winsby? ( Mr. Winsby’s salary was paid by Grieg Sea Foods of Campbell River while doing federal environmental impact studies on fish farms.

    Want another example?

    How about Sharon Ford, listed as the Director of Programs with the Aquaculture Management Directorate (,ou=MO-CM,ou=NCR-RCN,ou=DFO-MPO,o=GC,c=CA)

    Sharon Ford has a history of being an industry lobbyist. We can gleam some of the hiring processes through an appeal launched by Thomas Babcock.

    It was alleged that: “Sharon Ford had been originally hired into a CO-03 position from outside the Public Service on the recommendation of the Assistant Deputy Minister [in 2001] and was subsequently was given an acting position as Director, Sustainable Aquaculture Policy…”, that:” Sharon Ford would be deployed to Mr. Wex's office”, that there was a: “purposeful delay to allow Sharon Ford to become a Public Servant and therefore be eligible to compete for the position.”, that: “Mr. Wex, Chairperson of the Selection Board, improperly acted as a reference for successful candidate, Sharon Ford.”, that: “the Selection Board members were influenced by the bias shown towards Sharon Ford by the Selection Board Chairperson.”, and that: “the department breached PSC guidelines by calling Mr. Rideout, a referee from outside the Public Service”.

    DFO personnel Richard Wex, Sharon Ford, and Yves Bastien have been regular attendants and participators in the CCFAM Aquaculture Task Group (ATP), as is Joan Kean-Howie, the Director General, Oceans and Aquaculture Science Branch. Other ATP participants include: Peter Underwood the Nova Scotia Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries; Al Martin, the Director of the BC Sustainable Economic Development Branch; Kim Lipsett, the NB Director of Aquaculture Department of Agriculture, Fisheries & Aquaculture.

    How did pro-industry lobbyists get hired and gain access to the policy-making upper-levels of DFO? What’s everyone’s take on this? Acceptable? Feel better fish farmers are looking after the public’s interest in wild salmon?
  12. Little Hawk

    Little Hawk Active Member

  13. Barbender

    Barbender Active Member

    And all of Morton's and Krocek's research was funded by anti aquaculture groups. Using your own theory we should discount all their research as well as nothing more than spin and junk science. Something I have been saying all along. Glad we see things the same way.
  14. finaddict

    finaddict Well-Known Member

    Oh if only that actually were the case. You are correct that it would be in the farmer's best interests in the LOOOOOOONG RUN. However, farms are not built nor invested in based on the long run. Cash Flow is King and crop production and harvests are the only way to generate that cash flow. In times of low salmon prices and a slamon glut on the market (a situation we have had for the past 10 years or more due to high productio rates of Chilean and Norwegian farmed fish), the farmer must produce his crop with the lowest possible production costs. Open net pens in existing foreshore leases is the most cost effective method and come hell or high water, or damage to other resources, the farmer is going to produce and make as much money as he can to maintain that cash flow. Otherwise he is out of business.

    The reality is that for all resource based industries it is business first and resource protection second. Always has been, always will be.
  15. Red Monster

    Red Monster Well-Known Member

    The point is that my tax dollars fund the government(s) to protect wild salmon, not to spin BS for fish farmers. The government has acted in bad faith and it's not right.
  16. sockeyefry

    sockeyefry Guest


    Further examples of why DFO should stick to Fisheries, and not be involved with aquaculture. The only real reason why they initially were put in the position was because they had the only set of expertise from their hatchery system to deal with this new business. Problem is you cannot be the promoter and cop at the same time. However. as much as you feel that this "relationship" with DFO has assisted industry, there are those who feel that this has hurt industry development as well. I think that because they have this dual mandate, which is in conflict, that you get these types of incidents. Another aspect is that DFO over the years has swung from hard to soft on aquaculture, which results in them being wishy washy, and not making a clear decision one way or the other.

    See I will agree when you make good points, however, I hope that you will do the same, and we can dispense with the name calling and ridicule that occurred in the last discussion.


    Yes you are right that there is a bottom line, but it is also quite expensive to set up a farm, only to move it 14 months later to a new location. Unlike resource industries such as forestry and fishing, which take resources from an area and when depleted move to another, this is farming, and salmon farms, like terrestrial farms, only have so much area allocated and must make the best use from a sustainablility standpoint. In other words, they have to take care of what they get, because there is not alot available. To put it in persepective, all the salmon farms in BC would be able to fit on the tarmac of the Vancouver airport.
  17. agentaqua

    agentaqua Well-Known Member

    Barbender you state:
  18. sockeyefry

    sockeyefry Guest

    Sorry, forgot to address the 1km boundary. I believe that this was came from existing legislation at the time when aquaculture first started. They had to apply existing rules. I am not sure if it came from NWPA or the Fisheries act, but I believe it is related to the siting of wharves, marinas, etc...
    With regard to buffers and boundaries, how far do you want to go? I think that a reasonability factor should come in at some point. If a ship comes form China , it has the potential of carrying some organism which could cause problems in Vancouver harbour. Do we ban all ships coming to Canada? Salmon rivers in Nova Scotia, and Maple trees in Quebec are dead due to Acid rain, which is created in the Ohio Valley. Do we make the US shut down its factories because global wind patterns takes the impact to the maritimes?

    By the way, Alaska does have open net cages. It is a major part of how they can produce the billions of salmon smolt each year, especially Pinks and Chums. Their salmon also have lice on them, and their pink populations do cycle up and down, just like the Broughton, and yes you are right, salmon farming as practised in BC is illegal. Funny how they seem to have the same problems with their wild salmon populations that you attribute to salmon farms?
  19. agentaqua

    agentaqua Well-Known Member

    sockeyefry, I am humbled by your last posting, respectful, and in agreement with your call to keep it professional. I will attempt to remain so - especially when you address the points I raised; agree when you consider it appropriate, disagree with scientific references, and acknowledge when it is something you don't know. Hope you will also respond in kind....

    I almost can't believe I am saying this - but I agree with almost all of your last posting (good reply, by-the-way). The only point that I consider to irrelevant, is your comment:

    You can't "rate" the impacts from a salmon farm on the square feet of physical area that the pens take-up. That does not tell you:
    1/ the number of fish in the pens,
    2/ the number of lice on those fish,
    3/ the number of gravid (or egg-bearing) lice on those fish,
    4/ the potential diseases that those fish may either be exposed to, or are hosting,
    5/ the loading and the potential for anoxic conditions on the seafloor below the pens,
    6/ the local oceanographic conditions that dictate water flow,
    7/ the locations and distances to adjacent wild salmon smolt holding and rearing areas,
    8/ the numbers of seals and other predators shot or harassed while attempting to get a free meal,
    10/ the numbers or Peruvian anchovies used in relation to that ecosystem's capacity, that are used to make the fish food,
    9/ etc, etc. - there's more, but you get the idea.

    Maybe, if you are trying to convince us that the industry is truly benign, you could try another indicator.
  20. agentaqua

    agentaqua Well-Known Member

    sockeyefry, you ask:
    Sorry to tell you old chum - it is because it was politically expedient, and the salmon farming industry was breathing down the necks of the provincial elected officials - the same officials that had campaign contributions deposited from the fish farming industry; the same officials now in charge of protecting the resource - Stan Hagen. Remember that fiasco?

    Remember all the way back to when it was found-out that Mr. Hagen received donations from three separate fish farming companies to help finance his personal political campaign for election during the 2001 Provincial Election? He temporarily had to step aside while van Dongen took over for the duration of the RCMP investigation?

    Then the judge ruled that these contributions (the only ones they could trace - reminds one of the Mulrooney/Schriber affair) were "before" Stan became the minister in charge - so, technically - he was off the hook.

    That brings-up another important point. Know how we had a fallowing of the pink smolt migration route in the Boughton in 2003?

    Well, first-off - all it took was the then current BCMAFF minister to dictate to his underlings to make it so. It could, just as easily happen again. But there is not that kind of will from Pat Bell. He's a bought man.

    The BCMAFF minister in-charge at the time? John van Dongen. John was frankly embarrassed by his department, and specifically by the then Assistant Deputy Minister Bud Graham at a sea lice meeting in Vancouver early (February) 2003 - who did not prep his new master.

    So, John made Bud promise to fallow by April 2003. And it was done, and it worked.

    But, I diverge from your questions. You ask:
    This is a simple answer - as far as you need to go. You need to know the oceanography of the area (currently not done within the siting criteria), and the outmigrating smolts migratory patterns and holding areas (guess what? also not done in the siting criteria). Other countries do - guess what? - these parameters. But we don't? Wanna explain that one?

    Also, we already do come-up with buffer zones and siting criteria including migration routes to mitigate between wild bison and domesticated cattle in Alberta - but we can't seem to see the parallels here between wild salmon and farmed salmon? Does that make any sense to you? Does and arbitrary 1km make any sense to you?

    Finally, you correctly state:

    The devil is in the details here - so pay attention...

    They put small, newly-released fry in those pens, and hold them only long enough to get them a little bigger, and then release them before the spawning adults return. There are no multi-year classes of farmed salmon held overwinter in adjacent pens (like BC does). Because of these differences, it's called "ranching", verses salmon-farming; and that's why salmon farming is illegal in Alaska. They know the risk that overwintering multi-year classes of Atlantic salmon pose to their native wild salmon.

    I too think that a "reasonability factor should come in at some point". It's reasonable to expect serious, negative population-level consequences to your native wild salmon stocks when you allow multi-year classes of Atlantic salmon to overwinter and re-infect the small, outmigrating wild salmon smolts the next spring. It's why open net-cage technology should be outlawed.

    And your comment "Do we make the US shut down its factories because global wind patterns takes the impact to the maritimes?"> They did just that, sockeyfry. Once science determined the problem - legislation forced the industries to put scrubbers on their stacks to reduce sulfur dioxide and nitrate emissions. Now we are dealing with the CO2 emissions through Kyoto and other protocols.

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