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Province to improve environmental protections for coastal areas

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By Milthon Lujan

Victoria, Canada.- The provincial government is moving to protect the environment and health of wild salmon by strengthening the requirements for fish processing and finfish aquaculture operations.

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“Serious and widespread concerns about effluent from fish processing operations and finfish aquaculture practices have been raised, and the government is taking action,” said George Heyman, Minister of Environment and Climate Change Strategy. “British Columbians expect us to keep our water safe. We’ll do this by developing a comprehensive set of measures that will apply to the finfish aquaculture and fish processing industry along our coast. We will work with industry, First Nations and local communities to strengthen regulations and make sure any discharge into the water is safe and does not contaminate wild salmon.”

The ministry will immediately begin a review of fish processing plants to ensure waste materials produced from these operations do not affect wild salmon stocks. The purpose of the review is to ensure provincial regulations and permits governing waste discharge from fish processing are informed by the best available science and best practices in other jurisdictions, and fish processing discharge is free of contaminants and pathogens.

In addition, the ministry will immediately review whether treatments for sea lice are scientifically supported and are consistent with best practices in other jurisdictions. Results from this review will inform potential changes to the Integrated Pest Management Regulation, which regulates sea lice treatment.

“Our bottom line is to make sure that we protect our wild salmon and keep harmful substances from entering the marine environment as a result of these operations,” said Heyman.

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Quick Facts:

– In British Columbia, the Waste Discharge Regulation under the Environmental Management Act enables the regulation of discharges from fish processing plants into the marine environment.
– There are approximately 35 waste discharge authorizations issued under the Environmental Management Act for fish processing plants in B.C.
– Discharge requirements in fish processing plant permits are site specific and depend on a number of factors, including:
the volumes and types of effluent produced; and
the receiving environment into which the discharge is released.
– The requirements are designed to ensure that the environment is protected and pollution does not occur.

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