Footage from Blood Water, a short documentary by Tavish Campbell, resulted in a new report from the province indicating widespread regulatory violations by fish processing plants that discharge effluent into the environment.

Report reveals widespread violations by fish processing facilities

Most effluent-discharging plants in the province “out of compliance with their permit”

Most of the fish processing plants that discharge waste into B.C. waters violate provincial regulations, and tougher regulations are needed to protect wild salmon from disease-causing pathogens in those outflows, according to a report from the Ministry of Environment.

“The industry has been largely operating under an outdated permitting regime,” said Environment Minister George Heyman in a statement on July 4, when the report was released. He said the province would take “immediate steps to ensure permits are updated and strengthened” in response to the audit.

But the report also warned that companies may shutter their operations if environmental regulations lead to higher operating costs, raising questions about the future of the sector.

The 50-page report noted that 30 facilities are authorized to discharge effluent under the Environmental Management Act, although only 18 are actively operating and discharging the waste water into the environment. Farmed salmon is processed at five of the facilities, and one deals with farmed trout.

Government officers reviewed all 30 facilities, and found that 72 per cent of them were in violation of “at least one requirement of their permit,” according to the report.

Most of the violations had to do with administrative issues like “failure to post outfall signage.”

But the audit also found that facilities were “exceeding the discharge rate and the discharge quality” and in some cases “not conducting the required monitoring or reporting.”

Analysis of discharges also revealed that undiluted effluent is “frequently acutely lethal to fish” after passing through ordinary treatment works.

While the audit didn’t single out any specific companies or facilities, it took issue with regulations for the sector overall, saying that permits lack “the foundational requirements that are necessary to be protective of the environment.”

The report also noted that permits often impose no limits on effluent quality, nor any monitoring or reporting requirements.

And most permits require only “preliminary treatment” – the removal of large solid waste using mesh screens – rather than disinfection and other forms of effluent treatment considered the “best achievable technology” for the sector.

But companies have suggested that tougher regulations could lead them to shut down operations, the report noted.

Many of them “indicated that the costs associated with additional treatment would be too much of a burden on their current budgets and they would have to discontinue the operation of their facilities if additional treatment is required.”

The audit comes as a response to underwater video footage produced by Quadra Island photographer Tavish Campbell. That video shows bloody effluent pouring into the waters of Brown’s Bay, north of Campbell River, and similar outflows at a facility near Tofino.

Titled Blood Water: B.C.’s Dirty Salmon Farming Secret, the short documentary raised concerns about the effects of pathogens from farmed salmon on wild stocks, garnering attention in national and international media.

Just Posted

‘Beauty amongst such tragedy:’ B.C. photographer captures nature’s trifecta

David Luggi’s photo from a beach in Fraser Lake shows Shovel Lake wildfire, Big Dipper and an aurora

Vancouver Island woman to attempt historic swim across Juan de Fuca Strait today

Ultra-marathon swimmer Susan Simmons to attempt to swim from Victoria to Port Angeles and back

Port McNeill Cannabis Committee stumbles out of the gate

“I’m worried we could just be all over the map and I need to see a plan.”

Port Alice’s new RCMP officers going through clearance process

The medical process can take several months to complete as there are several steps involved.

Canadians fear for relatives trapped amid flooding in Indian state of Kerala

More than 800,000people have been displaced by floods and landslides

IndyCar driver Wickens flown to hospital after scary crash

IndyCar said Wickens was awake and alert as he was taken to a hospital

Ex-BCTF president ‘undeterred’ after early release from pipeline protest jail term

Susan Lambert and Order of Canada recipient Jean Swanson released early

Fast food chains look to capitalize on vegetarian, vegan trend with new items

Seven per cent of Canadians consider themselves vegetarians and 2.3 per cent identify as vegans

B.C. swimmer halts journey across Strait of Juan de Fuca after hypothermia sets in

Victoria MS athlete Susan Simmons swam for eight-and-a-half hours in 9 C choppy waters

‘Hard on water:’ Smoke not the only long-range effect of wildfires

The project began more than 10 years ago after southern Alberta’s 2003 Lost Creek fire

B.C. VIEWS: Genuine aboriginal rights are misused and discredited

Camp Cloud one of long line of protests falsely asserting title

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to march in Montreal’s Pride parade

Trudeau will end the day in his home riding of Papineau

Most Read