Jim Bennett. — File photo
Opposition fisheries critic Jim Bennett, MHA for St. Barbe, says it's mind boggling that the Newfoundland government continues to approve open net aquaculture when the rest of the country is headed in the opposite direction.
Bennett responded, in a news release today, to Friday’s announcement from the British Columbia Liberal government that it would accept the intent of eight of the recent Cohen Commission’s recommendations and refuse to issue any more open net fish farm licenses until 2020.
Bennett said, last week Nova Scotia’s NDP government, for the very first time, rejected an open net fish farm license after the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans concluded that such fish farms posed a risk to wild salmon stocks.
While British Columbia’s Liberal government freezes future open net salmon farms and Nova Scotia’s NDP government rejects the latest open net fish farm licence in that province, Bennet said Newfoundland and Labrador’s Tories "continue to destroy the environment with more open net fish farms on our south coast."
The MHA said even though the Newfoundland government has missed the opportunity to be in the forefront, a position that he has been advocating since the first outbreak of infectious salmon Anemia claimed 450,000 fish last summer, it can still get back on track if it moves quickly.
"First this government must reject the two new applications that are before it. Then it must systematically move the industry to closed containment," Bennett said.
While acknowledging that closed containment costs more, Bennett said it produces a premium product that a scientific study has shown can demand a higher price.
"Closed containment also generates higher employment, something that would be a real benefit to coastal communities," Bennett said.