Ecojustice lawyer Judah Harrison -- his firm has been urging the DFO to carry out an environmental assessment of the facility. (Photo: Ecojustice/FIS)
BC fish farm assessment given green light
Thursday, March 18, 2010, 21:40 (GMT + 9)
A major British Columbia salmon farm hoping to expand its operations will be subject to an environmental assessment by Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO), the department has told an environmental group who threatened legal action over the case.
The decision was made despite the fact the lawsuit charging federal authorities for permitting the expansion without conducting an assessment was never filed.
Last month, the environmental legal group Ecojustice threatened to sue DFO, claiming the department had not conducted a proper environmental assessment of Marine Harvest Canada's Doyle Island facility before granting it license to expand. Such assessment is mandatory under the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, according to Ecojustice staff lawyer Judah Harrison.
In a letter sent to Ecojustice dated 12 March, a representative of DFO wrote that the department “will, at this time, be undertaking an environmental assessment pursuant to [the act].”
According to Marine Harvest representative Ian Roberts, the company had submitted plans for expansion to federal regulators after collaborating with the Kwakiutl First Nation, in whose territory the facility is located.
“This is not a question of environmental sustainability, but rather an apparent procedural oversight by regulators which Marine Harvest expects will get straightened out,” wrote Roberts in an e-mail.
Roberts also confirmed that the planned 37 per cent production increase of salmon remains the aim of the expansion.
Ecojustice recently won a case for greater transparency of fish farms. In a ruling on 1 March, the Office of the Information & Privacy Commissioner of B.C. ordered that the government release data collected on sea lice infestations at B.C. salmon farms within 30 days, regardless of concerns that the data may be used to harm fisheries or be taken out of context.
- Green group threatens lawsuit over farm expansion
- BC farms' sea lice data goes public
By Denise Recalde