ASF statement on revised NL aquaculture policy and procedure manual
'Newfoundland and Labrador's updated Aquaculture Policy and Procedures Manual was released on September 25th with some revisions made as recently as November 4th. While the changes to policy and procedures will ensure more timely public reporting of events like Mowi’s recent mass die off, and will help government collect more information about the industry, upon initial review of the updated manual it's not clear how these changes would prevent such an event from occurring again. Policy and procedure is not regulation or legislation.
“Improved policy will hopefully lead to a more organized and transparent industry, but the changes do not address the issues of wild salmon interbreeding with escapes or the transmission of disease and parasites from aquaculture salmon to wild species. For example, the new requirement to report sea lice levels on a monthly basis will give the public insight into what’s happening, but companies are not compelled to take any action as a result.
“In other jurisdictions, when lice levels cross a certain threshold, companies are compelled to harvest their fish, expressly to protect wild salmon in the area. Furthermore, there does not appear to be any revisions made to the ‘Aquaculture Inspection Program’, despite the fact that auditing and oversight were acknowledged as a serious weaknesses in the 2018 report from Canada’s Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development on aquaculture.
“The Newfoundland and Labrador government had an opportunity to launch significant legislative and regulatory reforms, with support of the public and opposition parties in the House of Assembly, but they have picked the low hanging fruit of policy and procedure.
“It’s critical that the federal government make its presence known and live up to its responsibilities to protect the environment and wild salmon from the impacts of this industry. We are hopeful that the development of a federal Aquaculture Act will give prominence to the protection of wild species and the environment and result in a single set of national standards that more effectively mitigate the risks of disease transfer, interbreeding, and lice outbreaks.” - Dr. Stephen Sutton, ASF Director of Community Outreach and Engagement