Government Should Disclose Fish Farm Disease Outbreaks

Government Should Disclose Fish Farm Disease Outbreaks

June 12, 2014

Outbreaks of exotic or virulent fish disease at fish farms may spread to wild fish and threaten wild salmon stocks. Yet the government fails to adequately report to the public about fish farm outbreaks. Government refuses to publicly report where outbreaks have occurred and delays releasing information until it is too late to be useful to independent scientists. This needs to change. Working for the Wuikinuvx First Nation, ELC student Sam Harrison has written a report documenting that government needs to publish detailed, meaningful, timely information on diseases that occur at BC fish farms because:

  • It is clearly possible to do so. Countries like Scotland and Norway do a better job of publicly reporting fish disease outbreaks at their fish farms.
  • Independent research into the identification of outbreaks — and into causes and solutions — cannot take place unless full and timely disease information is public and available to independent scientists. The more independent scientists who are keeping track of salmon disease problems, the more likely a disease will be identified and dealt with quickly.
  • Timely public reporting of where a disease has occurred is necessary to mobilize useful local knowledge and maximize public participation in identifying causes and solutions.
  • Fish farm owners should be held accountable for actions that affect public resources. Without public reporting of the time and location of disease occurrences, it is difficult to judge whether Government is responding appropriately and preventing unnecessary reoccurrences – or making wise decisions about siting and licensing of new fish farms.
  • Of utmost importance, the current approach to disease reporting does not fulfill the Crown’s duty to consult First Nations.

Clearly, if we are to successfully deal with this risk to an invaluable resource, government needs to publicly report detailed, meaningful and timely information when diseases are discovered on fish farms.

Click here to read the report.