Wednesday, 21 May 2014

Weakenng the Strictest Fish Farm Laws in the World - May 20, 2014

As I pointed out in the Nancy Greene posts a week ago, fish farms like to say they operate under the strictest environmental laws in the world in the individual country they operate in. They have said this in Norway, Scotland, Chile and Canada in the past year. As every country has its own laws, this claim cannot be true. But yet, Marine Harvest, Cermaq and Grieg Seafood and their pro-industry websites keep making the erroneous claim.

But what really takes the cake on these claims of the strictest laws, is that no sooner is it out of the company's mouth, then they turn around and claim the laws need to be relaxed because they are too strict. It's an old tactic, standard around the industry, based on the number of times and the many countries where fish farms make the claims then push for weakened environmental laws.

In Canada, though, they don't point out that Canadian laws - not the strictest now - have been gutted in the past year in the omnibus act - egregious in itself - that gutted S35-36 of the Fisheries Act, as well as the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act.

And DFO Minister Gail Shea said the laws were being further weakened - links in the Nancy Greene articles - to allow companies to use more chemicals in raising their fish in our oceans.

So here is the latest - this happens all the time if you follow global fish farm news - in Canada no less:

Here are some words from Ruth Salmon, an industry spokesperson: But, she [Ruth Salmon] warned that production had stagnated since 2000, with 47 per cent of its share in the global aquaculture market, lost to competitor countries which was not where it should be.

Ms Salmon continued: "The cause of what’s holding back aquaculture in Canada is clear: a federal and provincial regulatory system that is complex, uncertain and confusing. The industry has been flat lined by a lack of regulatory consistency and transparency. Investment opportunities have been lost and global competitors have benefited. To put this in perspective, as Canada has stalled, its global competitors have grown by a robust six per cent annually."

Salmon is wrong about BC. The industry has indeed flatlined since about 2004 - in the BC Stats Report in the Nancy Greene posts. What this reflects is that the people of BC don't want fish farms in our water, and so the industry has indeed flatlined (this is what the ADMs in the senate video refer euphemistically to as: the 'social licence'). Also, because Canadians won't eat fish farm fish, they have to be sold in the USA. That market has Chile exporting into it as well, a huge industry, and more recently, Norwegian fish farms have had a 26% duty eliminated, further depressing the BC industry, as their own parent companies, Marine Harvest, Cermaq and Grieg Seafood export into the States from Norway.

And the claim that eastern Canada has flat-lined is not true. Go look at the expansion in the past few years in Newfoundland, for instance, and DFO putting $280 million along with $130 million from Newfoundland itself into aquaculture there. Cooke Aquaculture keeps expanding and so on. Just read the news.

This is the BC Stats report which shows the graph of the BC industry flat-lining:

The section you want to read is p 32 - 35. It shows flat-lining employment with a loss of 10%, falling employee income since 2008 (remember the staff that Marine Harvest let go just before Christmas two years ago), with climbing revenue in current dollars, but flat-lining and falling in real dollars since 2002. Just look at the graphs.

Yes, BC fish farms have and are having a tough time, for two reasons: British Columbians don't want fish farms in our ocean; and their own parent companies are selling into the biggest market for BC fish, the USA. It is Marine Harvest, Cermaq and Grieg Seafood that are now causing the BC industry to flatline, and they will continue to do so. In addition, Marine Harvest has recently raised money on the New York Stock Exchange to set up shop in the US, which will heavily impact the BC industry's only good market - 85% of BC product is sold in the USA. Talk about eating your own children. This has nothing to do with the laws in Canada at all.

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