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Agriculture

Some B.C. fish farms to close or move in bid to help wild salmon recover

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VICTORIA — All 17 fish farms in British Columbia’s Broughton Archipelago will either be closed or moved in an effort to create a migration path for wild salmon.

The agreement between the federal and provincial governments, First Nations and two fish farm companies, Marine Harvest Canada and Cermaq Canada, was announced Friday with a goal to protect and restore wild salmon.

Opponents to open-net pen fish farms in the Broughton Archipelago have conducted protests and occupations on some of the farms. 

Experts and First Nations in the area have long complained the farms spread disease, viruses and sea lice, harming the wild juvenile salmon that migrate through the same waters. The B.C. Salmon Farmers Association has said there is no evidence that farmed salmon negatively impacts wild salmon.

Friday’s agreement was prompted by provincial government guidelines announced in June that meant fish farm operators had to get First Nations’ approval to operate in their territory. The guidelines also said operators needed to satisfy Fisheries and Oceans Canada that their operations didn’t have an adverse impact on the wild stock in the area.

The First Nations included in the agreement are the Namgis, the Kwikwasut’inuxw Haxwa’mis and Mamalilikulla. 

Bob Chamberlin, chief councillor of the Kwikwasut’inuxw Haxwa’mis First Nation, said Indigenous Peoples have long demanded justice for the wild salmon in their territories.

“What we’re witnessing today is critical to Canada’s development. We’re seeing a jointly defined government, First Nations process come to shared recommendations.”

The plan is for four farms to close next year, two in 2020 and four more in the two years after that. The agreement says the remaining seven tenures will end unless they have First Nation approval and Department of Fisheries licences.

The agreement includes the implementation of new technologies to address risks on the farms, such as sea lice, and steps to restore wild salmon habitat in the Broughton Archipelago, a collection of islands off northeastern Vancouver Island.

Chamberlin thanked both Cermaq and Marine Harvest for negotiating the agreement.

“What I kept hearing from you time and time again … was a concern for the people who have employment. We had to strike a balance between the needs of our people and the needs of industry, and I believe we have done that expertly.”

Diane Morrison, managing director of Marine Harvest, said the province is changing and that means businesses must evolve. She said it is an important agreement for its 600 employees, their families and their future.

“Marine Harvest will not be making any changes to staff or contractors because of this agreement, but based on the agreed plan we will be initiating a transition in the Broughton and our operations there will change.”

In a news release, the company said the agreement “will ensure a viable production area is maintained during the transition period and allow for business adjustments to be made. … There are no changes to employment anticipated at this time.”

B.C. Premier John Horgan said public confidence in the fish farm industry is critically important, and the agreement includes a plan for oversight of the operations by area First Nations, a template that can be used in other industries across B.C.

Horgan said the process has created a sense of goodwill between governments, industry and First Nations.

“That’s why there’s hope and optimism for the future that wild salmon is what brought us together and wild salmon is what will keep us together.”

— By Terri Theodore in Vancouver

 

The Canadian Press

Agriculture

151st Cowichan Exhibition includes new category: best home-grown pot

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VICTORIA — One of Canada’s oldest fall fairs is putting a new twist on its annual showcase of local livestock, produce and fruit by adding a new category for best home-grown marijuana.

The Cowichan Exhibition in Duncan, B.C., which dates back to 1868, has created a best cannabis category to embrace legalization and celebrate local pot growers, said exhibition vice-president Bud James.

The fair starts Friday and the cannabis entries will be on display in the main hall at the Cowichan Exhibition Grounds along with the region’s top vegetables, fruits and baked goods. First prize is $5, second is $3 and third place gets a ribbon.

“We just decided this year, because it’s an agricultural product, and it’s been grown in the valley for years, and now that it’s finally legally grown, we would allow people to win a ribbon for the best,” said James.

He said fair officials believe the Cowichan cannabis category is the first of its kind in Canada.

An official at the Canadian Association of Fairs and Exhibitions, a non-profit organization representing rural and urban fairs, said she had not heard of any other cannabis judging contests prior to the Cowichan Exhibition, but couldn’t confirm it was the first.

A fall fair in Grand Forks, B.C., is also judging local cannabis, but the event starts Saturday, one day after Cowichan’s fair. Those who enter the competition in Grand Forks can compete for best indoor- and outdoor-grown cannabis.

James said fair organizers contacted the local council and RCMP prior to adding the cannabis category. The mayor and council did not oppose the contest and the RCMP referred organizers to B.C.’s Liquor and Cannabis Regulation Branch, the agency monitoring retail sales of non-medical cannabis, he said.

Organizers decided to go ahead with the event after its plans were not rejected, James said.

“Our interpretation of the rules are you can’t make it attractive to people under 19 years and we are not making it attractive,” he said.

James said the cannabis entries will be placed in a glass display case and the individual entries will be sealed in clear zip lock plastic bags.

“It’s being judged to the same standard of judging garden and field produce,” he said. “It’s done by uniformity. You want all three buds to be the same size, same shape, same colour. It’s also the dryness, texture and smell. It’s exactly the same way you would judge apples or carrots or hay bales. It’s all done the same way.”

James said the contest doesn’t involve sampling the product.

Bree Tweet, the manager of a medical cannabis dispensary in nearby Ladysmith, will judge the marijuana entries, said James.

The exhibition received 18 cannabis entries and James said the contest created a buzz at the fair.

“The enthusiasm of the entrants, the people bringing their entry forms, they are so enthusiastic it’s unbelievable,” he said. “They are so thrilled that it’s happening, that we’re doing it because they’ve been waiting for years for legalization and now, they finally got it and now they have a chance to show what they can do.”

James, who has entered his prized Dahlia flowers at past fairs, said the addition of the cannabis category has exceeded expectations with the 18 entries.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dirk Meissner, The Canadian Press

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Agriculture

China uses arbitrary detentions as ‘tool’ to achieve ‘political goals’: Trudeau

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justin trudeau

OTTAWA — China uses arbitrary detentions as a tool to achieve its international and domestic political goals, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Thursday.

He called that a pressure tactic that is worrying not only to Canada, but to its western allies.

Trudeau offered that assessment during a meeting with the editorial board of the Toronto Star, where he was asked to respond to the latest upbraiding of Canada by the spokesman for China’s foreign ministry.

Asked earlier about Trudeau’s appointment of business consultant Dominic Barton as Canada’s new ambassador to China, spokesman Geng Shuang said Canada needs to reflect on its “mistakes” and immediately release Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou, who was arrested on a U.S. extradition request.

“We look forward to his positive efforts to help bring China-Canada relations onto the right track,” Geng said in translated remarks posted on his ministry’s website. 

“Lately China-Canada relations have encountered serious difficulties. The responsibility lies completely with the Canadian side, and Canada knows the root cause clearly. We urge the Canadian side to reflect upon its wrongdoing, take China’s solemn position and concerns seriously, immediately release Ms. Meng Wanzhou and ensure her safe return to China.”

China has imprisoned two Canadian men, ex-diplomat Michael Kovrig and entrepreneur Michael Spavor, on suspicion of spying in what is widely viewed as retaliation for Meng’s arrest.

“Using arbitrary detention as a tool to achieve political goals, international or domestic, is something that is of concern not just to Canada but to all our allies, who have been highlighting that this is not acceptable behaviour in the international community because they are all worried about China engaging in the same kinds of pressure tactics with them,” Trudeau said at the end of a meeting with Toronto Star journalists, which was livestreamed. 

Trudeau said he doesn’t want to escalate tensions with China, and noted Beijing gave speedy approval to Canada’s request to appoint Barton as its ambassador.

Trudeau and his cabinet ministers have routinely branded Kovrig’s and Spavor’s incarcerations as arbitrary, and have marshalled broad international support from several dozen countries, including the United States. That coalition-building has angered China, which has banned imports of Canadian canola and blocked other agricultural products.

Trudeau said Canada has no choice but to engage economically with China because it is the world’s second-largest economy but has to be “clear-eyed” about that.

“China plays by a very different set of rules and principles than we do in the West. And making sure that we are able to make those points clearly and forcefully and as much as possible constructively is going to be really important,” the prime minister said.

“We are engaged very strongly in the issue of Canadians, in the issue of the canola and the beef and pork issues, but we are engaged in a substantive way that highlights to the Chinese government that we are concerned about their behaviour,” he added.

“We’re very concerned about the 300,000 Canadians in Hong Kong right now, but we are going to attempt to be constructive in ways that end up being good for Canadians and ultimately, hopefully, good for the Chinese people.”

Daniel Schow, a spokesman for Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer, reiterated his party’s view that Trudeau has been “bullied and pushed around by Beijing.”

“There’s a difference between not escalating tensions and doing nothing to stand up for Canada. Trudeau’s weakness and dithering on Canada’s relationship with China is costing Canadians.”

Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland said she and Barton met Wednesday and the plight of Kovrig and Spavor was the first thing they discussed. She said that in the regular consular visits that Canadian diplomats have with the two men, they are told, among other things, of the government’s efforts to secure their release. She said that is a “source of solace” for the two.

Mike Blanchfield, The Canadian Press


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