CEC recommends investigation of BC Salmon Farms submission

Montreal, 22 May 2014—The Secretariat of the Commission for Environmental Cooperation (CEC) has, after reviewing the file, concluded that a factual record is warranted concerning the enforcement of fisheries pollution law around salmon farms in British Columbia.

On 12 May 2014, the CEC Secretariat issued a notification recommending to the Council of the CEC that a factual record be developed in regard to submission SEM-12-001 (BC Salmon Farms),and it is now authorized to make this notification public.

The submission was filed on 10 February 2012 by two nongovernmental organizations in the US, one in Canada, and a First Nation in British Columbia (the “Submitters”), who assert that Canada is failing to effectively enforce fish habitat protection and pollution prevention provisions of Canada’s Fisheries Act in relation to salmon aquaculture operations authorized by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans in coastal BC.

In its response, Canada notified the Secretariat of two court cases that Canada claimed were “pending judicial proceedings” justifying the termination of the submission process. On 7 May 2014, the Secretariat assessed Canada’s claim and found that the subject matter of the submission is the subject of one of the court cases, but only in relation to one of the two environmental provisions mentioned in the submission: section 35 of the Fisheries Act.

However, the Secretariat finds that a factual record would answer remaining questions about the enforcement of section 36 of the Fisheries Act in relation to salmon aquaculture operations in BC. Section 36 generally prohibits the deposit of deleterious substances into water frequented by fish, unless regulations have been made that specifically authorize the deposits. The Submitters allege that various drugs and chemicals are released in and around salmon farms and are not so authorized.

The Secretariat will develop a factual record if two or more members of the Council—the CEC’s governing body, composed of the highest ranking environmental officials of Canada, Mexico, and the United States—so decide. The Council has until 12 August 2014 to vote.

For further information, please visit the CEC Submissions on Enforcement Matters website at www.cec.org/submissions, and the registry of submission SEM-12-001 (BC Salmon Farms).