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

Cariboo North MLA Coralee Oakes shared this photo of the binders and binders of letters and paperwork she’s received on area roads in the past few years. (Submitted photo)
Cariboo MLAs call on province to fix region’s roads

Minister Rob Fleming said more resources were on the way to the region

Taskeo Mines Ltd.’s Gibraltar Mine has released its Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) report titled Sustainability: Our Low Carbon Future. (Photo submitted)
Gibraltar Mine gets top marks for limiting greenhouse gas emissions

Taseko Mines Limited has published its annual report on its sustainability performance for 2020

Maude and R.C. Cotton, at the Cotton Ranch in the Chilcotin. (Photo courtesy of the Museum of the Cariboo Chilcotin)
HAPHAZARD HISTORY: The Cariboo history of R.C. Cotton

Who was R.C. Cotton and why is his name associated with this site?

Have a letter? Email editor@wltribune.com
LETTER: B.C. mine permitting process needs to change to avoid layoffs

I can’t believe a permit to reopen Gib East Pit has been delayed again.

(The Canadian Press)
Trudeau won’t say whether Canada supports patent waiver for COVID-19 vaccines

‘Canada is at the table to help find a solution’

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Police were on the scene of a fatal shooting in Abbotsford. (Black Press Media files)
B.C. government to give more than $8 million for programs to curb gang violence

221 not-for-profit projects led by local governments and school districts among others will receive a one-time grant

Gord Judson steers his log truck down a forest service road, using two-way radio and call signals to mark his position for oncoming traffic. (B.C. Forest Safety Council)
Planning some B.C. wilderness fishing? Don’t catch a log truck

Remote recreation areas bracing for heavy pandemic pressure

Former University of British Columbia student Stephanie Hale, 22. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff Bassett
Human Rights Tribunal to hear complaint against UBC Okanagan for ‘mishandling’ sexual assault report

Stephanie Hale did not return to campus after the student she alleges attacked her was cleared of wrongdoing

Jennifer Coffman, owner of Truffle Pigs in Field, B.C., poses beside her business sign on Thursday, May 6, 2021, in this handout photo. Her restaurant and lodge have been hit hard by a closure of a section of the Trans-Canada Highway and by the British Columbia government discouraging Alberta residents from visiting during the pandemic. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Jennifer Coffman, *MANDATORY CREDIT*
‘Why we survive’: B.C. boundary towns struggle without Albertans during pandemic

Jennifer Coffman’s restaurant is located in the tiny community of Field, which relies on tourism

A sign indicating face coverings are required by the establishment is pictured on the front door of a business in Vancouver, B.C., Friday, April 9, 2021. COVID-19 cases have been on a steady increase in the province of British Columbia over the past week. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
A sign indicating face coverings are required by the establishment is pictured on the front door of a business in Vancouver, B.C., Friday, April 9, 2021. COVID-19 cases have been on a steady increase in the province of British Columbia over the past week. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. to start releasing neighbourhood-specific COVID numbers after data leak

Documents obtained by the Vancouver Sun show cases broken down by neighbourhoods

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix update B.C.’s COVID-19 situation at the B.C. legislature, April 29, 2021. (B.C. government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 case count creeps up, seven more deaths

445 people in hospital, 157 in intensive care

Summerland’s positive test rate is much higher than surrounding local health areas, according to internal BC CDC documents. (BC CDC)
Summerland 3rd behind Surrey, Abbotsford in daily per capita COVID-19 cases

Interior Health is rolling out additional vaccine availability to the community

Most Read