Harper government set to privatize our ocean

by Alexandra Morton

The federal government has released its proposed Federal Pacific Aquaculture Regulations with a 60-day public input period. These regulations role back the safeguards we have in British Columbia to prevent heavy industrialization and privatization of the coast at the expense of our communities. Once these regulations pass, there will be no further public input on how each salmon feedlot licence is written, how many wild fish they can take and what diseases they must report. The federal licences will be issued without First Nation or other consultation and can be expanded without an environmental assessment. I feel there has to be enormous response or else we all lose, even the people working in the industry because no retailer is going to want to be in possession of a seafood product authorized to “Harmfully Alter, Disrupt and Destroy” parts of the North Pacific. Oddly, these regulations will not apply to the east coast of Canada where the Minister of Fisheries resides.

Email Ed Porter:

» Click here to sign the online petition.

Excerpt from Alexandra’s letter to
Ed Porter, Fisheries and Oceans Canada

July 28, 2010

I am responding to the 60-day public comment opportunity on the proposed Federal Pacific Aquaculture Regulations ( left column “Part I Notices and Proposed Regulations” Vol. 144, No. 28, page 1933).

When BC Supreme Court ruled that the federal government must take over regulation of salmon feedlots, the intent was to bring the industry into compliance with the Constitution of Canada. But what Stephen Harper’s Conservatives are trying to do instead is remove safeguards established by previous governments and open the door to privatizing the ocean, which is prohibited by the Canadian Constitution.

With his document, Harper not only licenses massive ecological damage, he depreciates the market value of BC feedlot salmon… Canadian pathologists warn against holding millions of diseased salmon in pens (Traxler et al. 1993). There is a strong correlation between salmon feedlot epidemics and the declining Fraser sockeye. This must be examined, but the provincial government is stonewalling release of salmon feedlot disease records and Harper is stepping in to help.

These draft regulations ignore the International (OIE) and the Canadian Food and Health Inspection Agency standards by exempting salmon feedlots from full disease reporting. Harper is not only offering Norwegian companies the right to leave infected salmon in the water, he is protecting them from liability. If government and the industry are willing to throw away premium market value for disease secrecy, we are warned this is a dangerous and strong priority.

Harper is going to legalize destruction of wild fish that become trapped in the pens, attracted by the bright lights and food in the water. There are no surplus wild fish and so this by-catch will compete with fishing quotas. Many feedlots are in rock cod conservation areas where fishermen are not allowed, but the feedlots will continue trapping unknown amounts. This is bad management and will affect herring, sable fish, salmon, lingcod and other important wild fish.

The federal Conservatives are proposing salmon feedlot licences be granted and amended without environmental assessment. This violates strong public demand for healthy coastal waters, but neatly resolves the irreconcilable issue of dumping over a ton/day/site of industrial waste into salmon habitat. These are the only feedlots that never have to shovel manure and chemical waste as it flows conveniently into public waters.

Salmon feedlots are an “ecology of bad ideas,” struggling to control disease with drugs, corrupting the food chain by using warm-blooded animal products, plants and fish from the southern hemisphere as feed, displacing local businesses, turning a public resource into a corporate commodity with no public access, dyeing their fish pink to resemble salmon. If jobs were the goal, the federal Conservatives and BC Liberals would be working with the BC companies developing sustainable land-based aquaculture to create a viable, world-class product.

These proposed regulations are a signpost. If this were about fish, attention would have been paid to the market value of the product. Instead, it risks one of the last naturally producing salmon regions in the world for a depreciating commodity. What these draft regulations do is clear away legislation established to protect Canadians and our coast from industrialization and privatization.

Ed Porter, the proposed Federal Pacific Aquaculture Regulations do not protect the interests of Canadians or the world and must not be adopted.

Help Greenpeace keep the BC coastline oil-free

by Stephanie Goodwin
BC director of Greenpeace Canada

Enbridge, an oil pipeline giant, is planning to build twin pipelines from the tar sands through the Great Bear Rainforest to the BC coast. If successful, the company would bring more than 200 crude oil tankers through the beautiful but rough waters of northern BC for the first time. That’s why we’re taking drastic action. We need to stop this before it starts. Greenpeace is working to prevent Enbridge, and other oil companies like Kinder Morgan, from expanding operations in BC. It’s not going to be easy, but you can help us right now by making a donation online:

The BP oil catastrophe in the Gulf of Mexico teaches us one thing: oil and water do not mix. Not in the Gulf and not on the BC coast.

Dubious eco-certification for salmon fisheries

Three Canadian salmon fisheries are now certified “sustainable” by the London-based Marine Stewardship Council (MSC). Sockeye salmon harvested from the Skeena and Nass Rivers and from Barkley sound, on Canada’s Pacific coast, will now bear MSC’s coveted eco-label in fish markets worldwide.

salmon tail in fish net
Photo by Craig Orr
courtesy of Watershed Watch Salmon Society

“The MSC has just granted eco-certification to three fisheries that routinely over-harvest threatened and endangered salmon stocks,” said Dr. Craig Orr, executive director of the Watershed Watch Salmon Society. Earlier this year, three BC conservation groups – Watershed Watch Salmon Society, David Suzuki Foundation and SkeenaWild Conservation Trust – filed a notice of objection to the MSC’s intention to award eco-certification to the Fraser River sockeye salmon fishery. As a result, the certification of the Fraser River sockeye fishery is temporarily on hold… The Fraser fishery recently became the focus of a commission of inquiry by the Government of Canada, due to a major collapse of the fishery and widespread concerns over mismanagement.

“Eco-certification can provide a powerful incentive for improvement in the way we manage our fisheries,” said Aaron Hill, Ecologist Watershed Watch, “but it becomes meaningless when you set the bar too low and certify unsustainable and mismanaged fisheries. It becomes fraud.”

Visit the Watershed Watch Salmon Society (, SkeenaWild Conservation Trust ( and the David Suzuki Foundation (

Council of Canadians celebrates UN’s recognition of human right to water

After over a decade of hard work, the global water justice movement achieved a major victory today as the United Nations General Assembly voted overwhelmingly in favour of recognizing water and sanitation as human rights. The resolution – put forward by Bolivia and co-sponsored by 35 states – passed overwhelmingly with 124 states voting in favour and 42 abstaining.

“It was a great honour to be present as the UN General Assembly took this historic step forward in the struggle for a just world,” says Maude Barlow, national chairperson of the Council of Canadians. “It is sad however, that Canada chose not to participate in this important moment in history.”

As a result of this vote, the human right to water and sanitation is now explicitly and formally recognized in international law.