VICTORIA - Provincial and territorial fisheries ministers say they're talking about developing an aquaculture regulatory program — something that was the sole responsibility of provincial governments until a landmark court decision in B.C. forced that province to turn responsibility over to Ottawa two years ago.
The issue was on the table at a meeting of the Canadian Council of Fisheries and Aquaculture in Victoria.
The federal government took control of regulating B.C.'s aquaculture industry in 2010 after a B.C. Supreme Court judge ruled the province had to relinquish jurisdiction to Ottawa because Ottawa has oversight of offshore fisheries.
The shift put the federal government in control of the cultivation of fish, enforcement of new Pacific aquaculture regulations and the conditions of licensing for fish farms.
B.C.'s salmon farm industry has been the subject of several ongoing lawsuits and criticism from First Nations and environment groups who blame open-ocean salmon farms for spreading disease they blame for collapsing wild salmon stocks in the Pacific.
The ministers also discussed the importance of fisheries science in assessing stocks and protecting fisheries.