The Province is strengthening requirements for fish processing operations in B.C. to ensure the protection of the marine environment, including wild salmon, following the conclusion of its sector-wide audit.
Released on Wednesday, July 4, 2018, the ministry’s audit report inspected all 30 fish processing facilities authorized under the Environmental Management Act in British Columbia. Inspections were conducted to verify compliance with permit conditions, collect effluent samples, determine whether effluent discharge was causing pollution, and identify the best achievable technology for the treatment of effluent.
“This audit clearly tells us more work needs to be done to ensure our coastal waterways are safe for all wild fish stocks,” said George Heyman, Minister of Environment and Climate Change Strategy. “The industry has been largely operating under an outdated permitting regime, going back several decades. We are taking immediate steps to ensure permits are updated and strengthened at fish processing facilities throughout B.C.”
Of the 30 fish processing facilities inspected, 72% were found to be out of compliance with their permits. More serious infractions included exceeding volumes and the quality of fish processing effluent discharged, than is allowed under their permits. However, the majority of non-compliances were administrative, such as failing to post signage.
Based on the results of the audit, the ministry has made several recommendations, including:
- Amending and modernizing existing permits to include additional environmental protection provisions, such as more rigorous discharge requirements and increased monitoring;
- Requiring fish processing facilities to review and update their standard operational procedures to reduce the volume and maximize the safety of effluent discharged into the environment;
- Ensure the best achievable technology (BAT) be factored in when the ministry determines or updates effluent discharge limits; and
- Require fish processing facilities to seek out alternatives for effluent disposal where practical, such as connecting to the municipal sewer system.
Ministry staff have already started the process of strengthening permit requirements for fish processing facilities, and are taking a risk-based approach by prioritizing those facilities that are processing the greatest tonnage of fish. Staff will continue to work with the fish processing industry, Indigenous communities, the federal government and other organizations to implement the recommendations reflected in the report.
The ministry also contracted the B.C. Centre for Aquatic Health Sciences to undertake a review of piscine orthoreovirus (PRV), and it can be found here: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/assets/download/E5B1B6D133A349C2A31A20B5D092978A
The Province will also work with the federal government and industry to eliminate, to the greatest extent possible, the potential impacts of PRV, and to ensure new measures to achieve this goal are contained in updated permits.
To view the audit report, visit: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/assets/download/ADBAE1763E774E098255E77543888A94
To learn more about fish processing inspection reports and data, please visit: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content?id=6933FA1A987B4118B153499AB9C015B9