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Council's Input Needed - Sablefish in Danger

Press release, Thursday, July 22, 2003

By John Cummins, M.P.

OTTAWA- The Hon. John Fraser, chairman of the Pacific Fisheries Resource Conservation Council, has been advised of a pending disaster for sablefish stocks and fishermen who harvest them if the Department of Fisheries and Oceans allows the development of sablefish fishfarms.

John Cummins, M.P. (Delta-South Richmond) has sent the following letter to Mr. Fraser:

A sablefish hatchery is now under development on Salt Spring Island. The wild sablefish industry is justifiably concerned that their industry and fishery will be destroyed by the development of sablefish aquaculture. Flooding the market with farmed fish will undermine the profitability of the highly successful sablefish industry.

There is a concern that farms will be placed in coastal inlets disrupting and destroying vital nursery areas for wild stocks. I therefore strongly believe it is important that the Council is aware that another fishery is under threat by the government's aquaculture promotion policies.

Your reports on the problems posed by sea lice parasites emanating from salmon farms in the Broughton reveal the serious environmental risks posed by the failure of the Department of Fisheries to utilize its powers and responsibilities under the Fisheries Act.

In its promotion of sablefish aquaculture the government has failed to consider either the immediate economic impact on the industry or the longer term environmental impact on wild stocks. The present sablefish industry is a model of how a sustainable fishery can be developed. It is foolhardy in the extreme to now destroy it and to then replace it with environmentally and economically unsustainable sablefish aquaculture.

Under your chairmanship the Pacific Fisheries Resource Conservation Council is the voice of reason in the face of the failure by the federal government to effectively regulate the aquaculture industry to ensure that industry can coexist with sustainable recreational and commercial salmon fisheries, by providing a stable and transparent regulatory environment to govern the interaction of aquaculture with wild fish and the environment.

The future of wild sablefish stocks may depend on the Council's intervention to protect juvenile rearing areas.

Contact: John Cummins, M.P.

(604) 940-8040 or cell (604) 970-0937

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