CANADA’S Fisheries Minister Keith Ashfield has welcomed six new aquaculture management vessels into the country's fleet and has marked the first year anniversary of the Canadian fisheries department’s regulation and management of aquaculture in British Columbia.
“Our government is proud to ensure that Fisheries and Oceans Canada has the tools it needs to regulate the aquaculture industry in British Columbia and ensure that it operates in a sustainable and environmentally responsible manner,” Minister Ashfield said. “We are committed to an economically and ecologically viable fishing and aquaculture industry across Canada.”
The six vessels, of various sizes and construction, are dedicated to the BC Aquaculture Regulatory Program and carry out aquaculture regulatory and monitoring activities. Three of the vessels are used by aquaculture management staff for auditing and monitoring aquaculture sites, and three are used by aquaculture fishery officers for enforcement and compliance inspections.
As the majority of aquaculture operations are located along the coast of Vancouver Island and in mainland inlets, and most are inaccessible by car, ensuring DFO staff are able to move freely on the water is an important aspect of regulating the aquaculture industry in BC.
The new Conservation and Protection vessels will allow fishery officers to respond quickly to events or public reports of potential concerns at farm sites, while staff on the aquaculture management vessels can deploy tethered remote underwater vehicles for site inspections and conduct and analyse benthic (ocean bottom) sampling.
Nationally, aquaculture production has increased four-fold in the past 20 years. Approximately 70 per cent of all Canadian aquaculture products are sold to foreign markets, and the world increasingly depends on aquaculture as an essential food source. Globally, half of all fish and seafood is now farmed. British Columbia contributes the most farm-raised fish and seafood to Canada’s output annually.