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Official Opposition Suggests Provincial Govt Forfeit Aquaculture Jobs

22 November 2012

CANADA - Derrick Dalley, Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture, responded earlier this week to comments made by Jim Bennett, MHA for St. Barbe, in regard to the findings of a report authored by Justice Bruce Cohen on the disappearance of the Fraser River sockeye salmon stocks in British Columbia.

“Today in the House of Assembly, the Opposition Fisheries Critic, said that the aquaculture industry should be shut down,” said Minister Dalley. “Based on his public comments, Mr. Bennett seems to have read a different version of the Cohen report then what is being reviewed by our government. Under no circumstance will our government follow this uninformed and misguided suggestion. Aquaculture is a vital industry in this province, and through effective management and regulation, we are confident it will continue to play a significant role in the economies of rural and coastal communities throughout Newfoundland and Labrador.”

The conclusions and recommendations of the Cohen Commission were specific to the Fraser River Sockeye Salmon resource and the Discovery Islands area of British Columbia. After two years and $26 million, the findings were inconclusive. Justice Cohen was unable to prove a negative impact on wild salmon, or any correlation between wild fishery and aquaculture.

In stark contrast to MHA Bennett’s comments, preliminary results from the Department of Fisheries and Oceans show that salmon returns in the Conne River area are higher this season than the previous. Science shows that salmon stocks have also declined in areas where no fish farming occurs. However, the Provincial Government will continue to work closely with the Federal Government, other Provincial Governments, and industry, as the Cohen Commission recommendations are considered.

“An immediate halt to any future aquaculture expansion or development in Newfoundland and Labrador, such as the Official Opposition has suggested, would abandon over 1,000 people that make a living from this industry,” said Minister Dalley. “The value of this industry continues to rise, the biosecurity protocols in use are some of the highest in the country and the world, and our government practices due diligence in managing and regulating the industry. The Official Opposition is using a weak argument that could ruin parts of rural Newfoundland where people have worked too hard to see their diligence and commitment subject to misguided criticisms by the Liberal Party.”

Since 2003, the Provincial Government has invested over $24 million in development initiatives, which has leveraged over $400 million in industry investment. In addition, almost $23 million has been spent on aquaculture infrastructure initiatives, such as new biosecurity wharves in communities like Harbour Breton, Pool’s Cove, St. Jacques, St. Alban’s, Hermitage and Belleoram, and a new Centre for Aquaculture Health and Development in St. Alban’s.

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