Fish Farm Update

Fish Farm Update

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Despite doing everything legal and bending over backwards to ensure compliance, an Oliver man continues to face opposition to his building a fish farm on Road 17.
Gary Klassen began construction on his aquaculture facility after receiving a development variance permit to increase his lot coverage from three to six per cent. His plan is to rear Arctic char as a business.
But he has been hearing some negative feedback about the proposal from people concerned about the impact the facility may have on Okanagan River and its salmon population.
“It’s very difficult when the public has a perception that fish farms are bad, but this is the most responsible way to raise fish,” Klassen said of his operation.
The plan includes constructing an insulated building to house several holding tanks to rear the fish. Klassen stressed the water will be free of pathogens and disease, and no antibiotics will be used in the rearing process. He also noted the disinfected fish eggs will come from a Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) certified supplier.
The proposal includes discharging the treated wastewater into the adjacent Okanagan River, and Klassen ensures this effluent will be clean and disease-free by utilizing a complex filter system.
“We’re not taking shortcuts. People think that we’re impacting the sockeye salmon, but I know for a fact that we’re not.”
Klassen said he was told by a biologist that the salmon in Okanagan River have already been in contact with natural diseases, but his facility will be disease-free by following strict bio-security measures.
Klassen is moving forward with his proposal, noting he has all of the permits in place.
Area C director Allan Patton also expressed concerns about the impact on the salmon population, but said he supports Klassen’s proposal.
Brennan Clarke, public affairs officer for the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations, said Okanagan River is considered highly sensitive and the BC government is “committed to ensuring this application has no impact on water quality or downstream fish habitat.”
Clarke noted the ministry has approved Klassen’s fish farm application.
Michelle Imbeau, communications advisor for Fisheries and Oceans Canada, said they issued a freshwater aquaculture licence to Klassen in September. She noted that discharging wastewater from a land-based aquaculture facility is regulated by the Land-based Finfish Waste Control Regulation.
Under the regulation, the applicant must submit a water quality report including an analysis of the proposed discharge and predicted effects on the body of water that will receive it. This includes hydraulic effects, the effects of nitrogen and phosphorous compounds, water temperature and the potential for eutrophication (excess nutrients that stimulate excessive plant growth).
The regulation also states that a person must not discharge effluent from a land-based fish farm if: the non-filterable residue concentration in the effluent exceeds 10 mg/L and the dilution ratio is less than 20 to one; and if the total phosphorous concentration exceeds 0.1 mg/l and the dilution ratio is less than 20 to one.
The operator of such a facility must not discharge to surface water or ground water the following: sand, silt, mud, solids, or other pollutants arising effluent control; detergents or disinfecting agents; and dead fish, blood or processing wastes.

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