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

The Regional District of Nanaimo has its sights set on busing to the Cowichan Valley in time for March 2022. (News Bulletin file)
RDN Transit has sights set on busing to Cowichan Valley by next March

Unallocated transit hours already in the budget

Parking decals for motorcycles owned by riders with disabilities are now available from the Nanaimo Disability Resource Centre. (Photo submitted)
Motorcycle decals now available in Nanaimo for disabled riders

Limited number of decals now available from the Nanaimo Disability Resource Centre

Ceramic artist Teresa Dorey with some of the pieces from her upcoming exhibition, ‘Einfühlung: Feeling Into,’ at Nanaimo Ceramic Arts Studio and Gallery. (Josef Jacobson/The News Bulletin)
Ceramic artist explores ideas around empathy and touch in Nanaimo exhibition

Montreal’s Teresa Dorey presents ‘Einfühlung: Feeling Into’ at Nanaimo Ceramic Arts

Eliot White-Hill, Kwulasultun is the recipient of this year’s City of Nanaimo Culture and Heritage Award for Emerging Cultural Leader. (Josef Jacobson/The News Bulletin)
Eliot White-Hill, Kwulasultun is the recipient of this year’s City of Nanaimo Culture and Heritage Award for Emerging Cultural Leader. (Josef Jacobson/News Bulletin)
Multi-disciplinary Snuneymuxw artist named ‘Emerging Cultural Leader’

Eliot White-Hill, Kwulasultun, receives City of Nanaimo Culture and Heritage Award

The Village on Third in Nanaimo won the Judges’ Choice award as top overall entry at the Vancouver Island Real Estate Board Commercial Building Awards. (Photo submitted)
Nanaimo mixed-use building wins top prize at commercial building awards

Village on Third was Judges’ Choice winner at VIREB Commercial Building Awards

A bullet hole is seen in the windshield of an RCMP vehicle approximately 4 km from Vancouver International Airport after a one person was killed during a shooting outside the international departures terminal at the airport, in Richmond, B.C., Sunday, May 9, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Homicide team IDs man in fatal YVR shooting as police grapple with spate of gang violence

Man, 20, charged in separate fatal shooting Burnaby over the weekend

Oak Bay resident Hugh Thompson died Friday, May 7. (GoFundMe photo)
Oak Bay dad dies mountain biking near Shawnigan Lake

Community rallies around family with online fundraiser

The Canadian Forces Snowbirds are in the Comox Valley for their annual spring training. Photo by Erin Haluschak
Suspected bird strike on Snowbirds plane during training in Comox

Pilot followed protocols and landed the aircraft on the ground without any problems

BCIT. (Wikimedia Commons)
BCIT apologizes after employee’s ‘offensive and hurtful’ email leaked to Métis Nation

BCIT says employee’s conduct has been investigated and addressed

An adult male yellow-breasted chat is shown in this undatd photograph on lands protected in collaboration between the En’owkin Centre and Penticton Indian Band with support through ECCC. The rescue from near extinction for a little yellow bird hinges on the wild rose in British Columbia’s Okanagan Valley, a researcher says. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, A. Michael Bezener/ En’owkin Centre 2020 *MANDATORY CREDIT*
Rare yellow birds need wild roses to survive in British Columbia: researcher

The importance of local wild roses emerged over a nearly 20-year experiment

RCMP officers search around rows of luggage carts as screens block off an area of the sidewalk after a shooting outside the international departures terminal at Vancouver International Airport, in Richmond, B.C., Sunday, May 9, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Police say gang conflict in Metro Vancouver may be behind shooting death at airport

Police said this generation of gangsters is taking things to new level and have no regard for community safety

RCMP are looking for information on an alleged shooting attempt near an elementary school in Smithers March 10. (Phil McLachlan/Capital News/Stock)
UPDATE: Man killed in brazen daylight shooting at Vancouver airport

Details about the police incident are still unknown

Pieces of nephrite jade are shown at a mine site in northwestern B.C. in July 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Tahltan Central Government MANDATORY CREDIT
Indigenous nation opposes jade mining in northwestern B.C.

B.C.’s Mines Act requires operators to prepare a plan to protect cultural heritage resources

Nanaimo author Haley Healey recently launched her second book, ‘Flourishing and Free: More Stories of Trailblazing Women of Vancouver Island.’ (Photo courtesy Kristin Wenberg)
Nanaimo author pens second book on ‘trailblazing’ Vancouver Island women

Haley Healey’s ‘Flourishing and Free’ follows her 2020 debut ‘On Their Own Terms’

Most Read