Honourable Justice Cohen -
I would like to add my voice to those who believe open net fish pens no longer belong in our coastal waters. These facilities are responsible for fouling the surrounding ocean, shooting marine mammals that get too close, and most importantly have to potential to transfer parasites and infectious diseases to wild salmon stocks, and even potentially to critical forage fish such as herring.
A simple cost benefit analysis, done properly, would show that the short-term economic benefits from the aquaculture industry are far outweighed by the potentially collapse of an entire ecosystem.
Beyond the potentially catastrophic consequences that would stem from the destruction of BCs wild salmon stocks, the behaviour of the DFO on this file is deplorable. It is unacceptable that the agency charged with protecting wild fish populations can at the same time actively support an industry with the potential to destroy those very same stocks. This conflicting mandate imposed on the department by governments opportunistically pursuing short-sighted economic benefits must be removed.
I therefore implore you to include in your recommendations that 1) open net fish farms be fallowed immediately, 2) incentives be provided to develop state-of-the-art closed containment facilities. This is a true economic opportunity that could ultimately benefit the Canadian economy and Canada's international reputation. 3) Independent oversight be restored to the DFO to eliminate the potential for political interference, and to ensure that these invaluable public resources be protected for future generations.
Thank you for your efforts.
Edward Gregr, MSc
PhD Candidate, UBC