Fisheries critic says N.L. government destroying environment with open net farms

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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.

Organizations: Cohen Commission, Department of Fisheries and Oceans

Geographic location: Newfoundland and Labrador, British Columbia, Nova Scotia

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  • Rudy Haugeneder
    March 26, 2013 - 11:25

    Just reaffirms what many people outside of Alberta already think: Newfies are stoopid. But that's a wrong conclusion. Newfies are just too trusting for their own good. Only their politicians appear stoopid as a way to cover their corruption.

  • Fred Penner
    March 26, 2013 - 11:23

    The Cohen report and the Suzuki foundation say that the danger of open net farming is that it exposes wild fish to ISA (and probably other microbes as well). I don't think this means that we need to "blow up" the industry but it appears to indicate that closed systems are superior in that they don't expose other fish to ISA etc. Fish farming is a relatively new industry - both open and closed net techniques- and perhaps we might try both approaches and learn the benefits and pitfalls of each before we proceed pell mell with either method. There may be ways to manage to pitfalls of open net farming and there may be, as yet, unknown risks associated with the closed net technique.

  • UnCommon Sense
    March 26, 2013 - 10:50

    Bennett is right. Nl does not need to make the same mistakes that other jurisdictions have. Our government is content to trade our environment to compete with third world countries in the race to the bottom in protein production We made the same mistake with our cod fishery and pretty much every other fishery that provided employment, decimating the resource in an effort to protect jobs. We all know what the outcome of continuing on the current path will be. Will government do something about it?