LTC eyes fish farm
Gulf Islands Driftwood, Thursday, January 23, 2003
By Gail Sjuberg
The internationally controversial topic of aquaculture
will surface at the Lions Hall this Saturday afternoon when
the Salt Spring Local Trust Committee (LTC) considers a proposed
sablefish hatchery on Walker Hook agricultural property. Trust
planner John Gauld said the LTC is a referral agency for both
a subdivision application made to the Ministry of Transportation
and a Land Reserve Commission proposal that would facilitate
a fish hatchery for sablefish - also known as black cod.
The plan sees a long-term lease of the land
from Walker Hook property owner Henry Caldwell to Parksville-based
Gidon Minkoff and Sablefin Hatcheries Inc., which is spearheading
the project. Salt Spring's Paul Simpson, of Island Sea Farms
Ltd., said Minkoff is known internationally for his work and
that agencies such as the Vancouver Aquarium and National
Research Council were connected to the plan. Gauld said the
on-land black cod hatchery proposed for Caldwell's Agricultural
Land Reserve property is defined by the provincial government
as an agricultural use.
Barb Wright, public affairs officer with the
Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (MAFF), said a
licence to operate the hatchery was granted by MAFF to Sablefin
Hatcheries Inc. last June. Wright noted that a waste management
permit from the Ministry of Water, Land and Air Protection
is also needed. Like all fish farm-related enterprises these
days, the project must also deal with public relations hurdles.
Chris Acheson, who is both president of the Canadian Sablefish
Association (CSA) and a Salt Spring resident, will be addressing
the LTC about the hatchery on Saturday. He thinks Salt Spring
Islanders should consider if they want their island known
as the home of a major experimental fish hatchery. His association
feels the millions of fish that will be raised from the hatchery
stock could lead to eventual elimination of the wild sablefish
stock in the North Pacific. "The whole issue of aquaculture
is not being handled properly in B.C.," he said Monday. "You
can't have two of the same stock in the same environment.
The one that is doctored is going to prevail over the one
that is not doctored."
Acheson said the CSA wants appropriate studies
done on the effects of farming sablefish before it proceeds
in any location and feels operations should be confined to
land. In addition to the CSA's concerns, the Seattle-based
Fishing Vessel Owners' Association Incorporated, has also
expressed opposition to the proposed Salt Spring hatchery
via a letter sent last week to the Islands Trust. "Our organization
is deeply concerned about the growing problems aquaculture
is creating for established fishing industries and communities
in both countries. We oppose the establishment of a sablefish
hatchery on Salt Spring Island and hope that the Islands Trust
will take every precaution to ensure that the wild sablefish
resource and traditional commercial fisheries are not threatened."
Saturday's LTC business meeting starts at 1 p.m., beginning
with an open town hall session where members of the public
can speak with trustees and staff about any issue of concern.