Biologist Alexandra Morton welcomed the Federal Court's decision. (Photo Credit: Salmon Confidencial)
Court ruling protects BC wild salmon
Monday, May 11, 2015, 01:50 (GMT + 9)
Federal Court abolished the conditions set in aquaculture licensing rules allowing fish farms to transfer diseased fish into open ocean pens, which was welcomed by BC wild salmon campaigners.
In a release sent to FIS.com, Ecojustice explains that the lawsuit was filed in 2013 by biologist Alexandra Morton and the non-government organisation after the Ministry of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) allowed fish farm company Marine Harvest to make its own decisions surrounding the transfer of farmed fish carrying viruses that may harm wild salmon, into open ocean pens.
At that time, piscine reovirus (PRV) was found in fish held in Marine Harvest's Dalrymple hatchery, on the migration route of Fraser River sockeye.
According to the NGO's statements, those opposing the ministry’s action argued that federal aquaculture licensing was inconsistent with the law protecting wild fish and the marine environment.
"This was a reckless practice that put wild salmon at risk by exposing them to potentially dangerous disease agents," pointed out Morton.
And the biologist also claimed: "It cannot be left to these companies to decide whether putting farmed fish carrying viruses into the ocean environment is safe."
After the court ruling declared specific licensing regulation is invalid, the DFO stated that as many as 120 licenses, due to expire at the end of the year, could be affectedby the invalidated regulations.
Meanwhile, a Marine Harvest spokesperson ensured it had never transferred unhealthy fish and ensured the voided clauses aren’t important to company operations, The Canadian Press informed.
The firm’s representatives claimed the company provided evidence to court of the presence of PRV along the BC coast existing long before salmon farms and also claimed it is naturally occurring and not linked to any disease at all.
On the other hand, the DFO website states that examination of hundreds of fish has found no evidence to date of the disease in wild or farmed fish along the coast.
“Common sense, experience from around the globe, and the overwhelming weight of scientific evidence all tell us that putting farmed fish carrying viruses in close proximity to healthy wild fish is a bad idea. “We need to err on the side of caution when it comes to protecting wild fish, and I am delighted that the Court agrees,” Morton concluded.