New fish farming restrictions slated for British Columbia

Posted: Thursday, October 05, 2000

JUNEAU (AP) -- Fish farmers in British Columbia are about to face tighter regulations designed to prevent the escape of Atlantic salmon from fish farms in the province.

The regulations take effect Oct. 31. They require all British Columbia fish farmers to submit written escape and response plans including measures for predator avoidance, descriptions of existing and proposed containment mechanisms and inspection and maintenance schedules.

Plans to adopt the new rules were announced in August after more than 35,000 Atlantic salmon escaped from net pens into the waters off Vancouver Island.

Environmentalists and some scientists fear farmed salmon could compete with wild stocks for habitat or infect Pacific salmon with new diseases.

Salmon farming employs about 3,400 people in British Columbia and produced about 51,000 metric tons of fish last year. That's more than three times the 15,000 metric tons of Pacific salmon landed by commercial fishing vessels in the province.

A moratorium on expanded fish farming in British Columbia has been in effect since 1995.

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