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

Just Posted

Victoria residents downtown on Saturday afternoon. (Jake Romphf/News staff)
PHOTOS: Victoria residents out in the sun Saturday

Some biked downtown, while others got their COVID-19 vaccine

Victoria-born, 16-time Grammy winning musician David Foster penned a letter to the Greater Victoria School District May 7 urging them not to cut music programs. (THE CANADIAN PRESS)
David Foster joins fight to save music in Greater Victoria School District

‘Music is the great equalizer’ Foster wrote in a letter to the district

Victoria police responded to a vehicle where this dog was found in distress due to the heat after being left inside. (Photo courtesy of VicPD)
Hot cars can be fatal to dogs left inside, Victoria police reminds public after distress calls

Victoria police found two dogs in a car with an internal temperature of 47 C on Friday

Victoria police are looking for Serene Cook after she was last seen in downtown Victoria on May 6. (Photo courtesy of VicPD)
MISSING: VicPD seeks high-risk Indigenous woman missing more than a week

Serene Cook, 38, last seen May 6 in downtown Victoria

Ken Rutherford, left, and Rick Lord of Port Alberni receive honours from the National Model Railroad Association—Pacific Northwest Region for 40 years of dedication to the preservation and presentation of railroad history. (PHOTO COURTESY PHYLLIS RUTHERFORD)
Model railroaders from Port Alberni honoured for rail preservation

Ken Rutherford and Rick Lord put on annual model railroad meet in Nanaimo for 35 years

Daily confirmed COVID-19 cases reported to B.C. public health, seven-day rolling average in white, to May 12, 2021. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
B.C. preparing ‘Restart 2.0’ from COVID-19 as June approaches

Daily infections fall below 500 Friday, down to 387 in hospital

On Friday, May 14 at Meadow Gardens Golf Club in Pitt Meadows, Michael Caan joined a very elite club of golfers who have shot under 60 (Instagram)
Crowds at English Bay were blasted with a large beam of light from an RCMP Air-1 helicopter on Friday, May 14. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Marc Grandmaison
Police enlist RCMP helicopter to disperse thousands crowded on Vancouver beach

On Friday night, police were witness to ‘several thousand people staying well into the evening’

Sinikka Gay Elliott was reported missing on Salt Spring Island on Wednesday, May 12. (Courtesty Salt Spring RCMP)
Body of UBC professor found on Salt Spring Island, no foul play suspected

Sinikka Elliott taught sociology at the university

The first Black judge named to the BC Supreme Court, Selwyn Romilly, was handcuffed at 9:15 a.m. May 14 while walking along the seawall. (YouTube/Screen grab)
Police apologize after wrongly arresting B.C.’s first Black Supreme Court Justice

At 81 years old, the retired judge was handcuffed in public while out for a walk Friday morning

Queen Elizabeth II and Clive Holland, deputy commonwealth president of the Royal Life Saving Society, top left, virtually present Dr. Steve Beerman, top right, with the King Edward VII Cup for his drowning-prevention work. Tanner Gorille and Sarah Downs were honoured with Russell Medals for their life-saving resuscitation. (Buckingham Palace photo)
Queen presents Vancouver Island doctor with award for global drowning prevention

Dr. Steve Beerman receives Royal Life Saving Society’s King Edward VII Cup at virtual ceremony

Former UFV Cascades wrestling coach Arjan Singh Bhullar is now the ONE heavyweight champion after defeating Brandon Vera via TKO in round two on Saturday in Singapore. (ONE Championship)
Former UFV wrestling coach wins MMA championship

Arjan Singh Bhullar captures ONE heavyweight title, first Indian origin fighter to achieve honour

Astra Zeneca vaccine waits for injection in a Feb. 3, 2021 file photo. A Langley man has become the second B.C. resident to suffer a blood clot following an injection. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein)
B.C. man required emergency surgery after AstraZeneca vaccination

Shaun Mulldoon suffered ‘massive blood clot’ after jab

Chilliwack’s Kile Brown, performing as drag queen Hailey Adler, dances and lip syncs in front of hundreds of people during the inaugural Chilliwack Pride Barbecue at the Neighbourhood Learning Centre on Aug. 24, 2019. Monday, May 17 is International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of May 16 to 22

International Day Against Homophobia, Talk Like Yoda Day, Sea Monkey Day all coming up this week

Most Read