The National Farm Animal Care Council (NFACC) and the Canadian Aquaculture Industry Alliance have launched a public comment period for the country’s first Code of Practice for the Care and Handling of Farmed Salmonids. (Whole Oceans image)

The National Farm Animal Care Council (NFACC) and the Canadian Aquaculture Industry Alliance have launched a public comment period for the country’s first Code of Practice for the Care and Handling of Farmed Salmonids. (Whole Oceans image)

British Columbians asked to weigh in on the treatment of farmed salmon

First-ever animal welfare code for farmed fish enters public input phase

A new national animal welfare code will give British Columbians the opportunity to let salmon farmers know how they can improve the quality of life for captive fish.

The National Farm Animal Care Council (NFACC) and the Canadian Aquaculture Industry Alliance have launched a public comment period for the country’s first Code of Practice for the Care and Handling of Farmed Salmonids.

Similar NFACC codes have long been in place for other, land-based farm animals but this will be the first for farmed fish. Once finalized, it is intended to promote sound management and welfare practices through recommendations and requirements for rearing, feeding, transportation and other animal husbandry practices.

The 14-person Code Development Committee overseeing the process includes producers, animal welfare and enforcement representatives, researchers, veterinarians and government.

“The code development process helps diverse communities work together to improve the lives of farmed animals,” Leigh Gaffney, who represents World Animal Protection Canada on the Code Committee said.

“We hope to receive broad input from the general public, industry and other stakeholders to ensure this code improves fish welfare and reflects the values of Canadians.”

B.C. farms produced 87,300 tonnes of salmon for human consumption in 2018, supported 7,000 direct and indirect full-time jobs and contributed $1.5 billion to the provincial economy, according to figures released by the BC Salmon Farmers Association (BCFSA). B.C. government statistics also show farmed salmon is the province’s top food export, valued at $562 million in 2019.

Although it’s unclear how the code may impact operations, BCSFA spokesperson Shawn Hall said the industry welcomes the move.

“The humane care of animals on our farms is always a priority for BC salmon farmers,” he said. “Development of a standardized code of practice for that care will ensure Canadians can be confident their salmon has been raised with the highest standards.”

A 2019 NFACC survey across a variety of public, scientific and fisheries sectors, drew 706 respondents, 83 per cent of whom originated from B.C., who identified stocking density as the top concern for farmed fish.

READ MORE: Cermaq to supply salmon smolts to land-based farm Kuterra

“Overcrowding and confinement of fish that have a natural history of being able to control their proximity to other fish, exercise, forage and live in a large home range is a major welfare concern,” wrote one respondent.

Other priority concerns include the impacts of sea lice and associated treatments, health monitoring and humane slaughter.

The Code Development Committee has spent nearly two years developing the draft Code.c comment period is a key step that will allow us to check our work with a broader representative group,” said Dr. Barry Milligan, a veterinarian and Chair of the Code Development Committee. “Welfare is an integral component of fish health and one that is increasingly being looked at both from the industry and from the public perspective.”

Producers, consumers, animal-welfare advocates and virtually any other stakeholder can view the draft code and provide feedback through a questionnaire by visiting the NFACC website. A scientific report summarizing research conclusions on priority welfare topics, which aided discussions of the Code Development Committee, can also be found alongside the draft Code.

The public comment period opened Nov. 2 and closes Jan. 7, 2021, after which the committee will consider submissions and release the final code in the fall of 2021.

READ MORE: DNA presence of pathogens harmful to fish almost triples near B.C. salmon farms: study

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

An aerial shot of Cedar Valley Lodge this past August, LNG Canada’s newest accommodation for workers. This is where several employees are isolating after a COVID-19 outbreak was declared last Thursday (Nov. 19). (Photo courtesy of LNG Canada)
41 positive COVID-19 cases associated with the LNG Canada site outbreak

Thirty-four of the 41 cases remain active, according to Northern Health

Snowplowing isn’t really our favourite pastime but it is something we have been doing a lot of lately. Winter is here folks get your shovels out! (Angelique Houlihan photo/Houston Today)
Canadian’s favourite pastime

Snowplowing isn’t really our favourite pastime but it is something we have… Continue reading

grad
Raising money

Recently 2021 grad and parents sorted through all the bottles they have… Continue reading

RCMP
Big shout out to Houston RCMP

A Houston resident submitted this photo of Houston RCMP lending a hand… Continue reading

Welcome to Houston
Premier urged to remember northern, rural communities

Houston signs group letter being sent to John Horgan

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix and provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry update the COVID-19 situation at the B.C. legislature, Nov. 23, 2020. (B.C. government)
B.C. sets another COVID-19 record with 887 new cases

Another 13 deaths, ties the highest three days ago

Arthur Topham has been sentenced to one month of house arrest and three years of probation after breaching the terms of his probation. Topham was convicted of promoting hate against Jewish people in 2015. (Photo submitted)
Quesnel man convicted for anti-Semitic website sentenced to house arrest for probation breach

Arthur Topham was convicted of breaching probation following his 2017 sentence for promoting hatred

Langley School District's board office. (Langley Advance Times files)
‘Sick Out’ aims to pressure B.C. schools over masks, class sizes

Parents from Langley and Surrey are worried about COVID safety in classrooms

The baby boy born to Gillian and Dave McIntosh of Abbotsford was released from hospital on Wednesday (Nov. 25) while Gillian continues to fight for her life after being diagnosed with COVID-19.
B.C. mom with COVID-19 still fighting for life while newborn baby now at home

Son was delivered Nov. 10 while Gillian McIntosh was in an induced coma

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

B.C. Premier John Horgan, a Star Trek fan, can’t resist a Vulcan salute as he takes the oath of office for a second term in Victoria, Nov. 26, 2020. (B.C. government)
Horgan names 20-member cabinet with same pandemic team

New faces in education, finance, economic recovery

The corporate headquarters of Pfizer Canada are seen in Montreal, Monday, Nov. 9, 2020. The chief medical adviser at Health Canada says Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine could be approved in Canada next month. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Health Canada expects first COVID-19 vaccine to be approved next month

Canada has a purchase deal to buy at least 20 million doses of Pfizer’s vaccine,

FILE – A paramedic holds a test tube containing a blood sample during an antibody testing program at the Hollymore Ambulance Hub, in Birmingham, England, on Friday, June 5, 2020. (Simon Dawson/Pool via AP)
Want to know if you’ve had COVID-19? LifeLabs is offering an antibody test

Test costs $75 and is available in B.C. and Ontario

Most Read