Muddying the waters

Lack of transparency surrounds lifting of fishing moratorium.

Divers from around the world are drawn to the waters off North Vancouver Island, which are renowned for their abundance of marine life and for their remarkable clarity.

Would that the federal government exhibited the same level of transparency.

A moratorium on applications for new or expanded salmon farms, trumpeted at the time it was established in 2011, was lifted with a whisper late last year by the Fisheries and Oceans.

That decision was shared with the farmed salmon industry, but not with the public. Then, earlier this month, DFO did deign to share this news with several First Nations — but not until the cat was set to escaped the bag with the printing of legal notices of applications to the crown.

Critics are understandably miffed, citing sections of the Cohen Commission’s 2012 report on the 2009 Fraser River sockeye collapse to back their assertion the net-pen farms harm migtrating wild salmon.

One area specifically targeted by Cohen, the Discovery Islands, remains off-limits to the farms. But the rest of the coast is fair game, and thus far the government has received 13 applications for new or existing facilities, which would dramatically expand production.

To be fair, three notices of application from Cermaq (formerly Mainstream) appeared in the Jan. 9 edition of the Gazette. On the other hand, following the web site link provided in the legal notices takes us to a page called “Not Found.”

Just to be clear.