Sooke council’s decision to prohibit ocean-based invasive salmon in local waters, while symbolic, is an urgent environmental message.
Atlantic fish farming, in fact fishing farming of any kind on the ocean, is a federal responsibility. But that’s not to say local government shouldn’t have a say.
The problem with invasive fish farming is that it provides movement and eventual establishment of species beyond their native range. That will occur with the recent collapse of an aquaculture facility in Washington State, just 50 kilometres from Sooke, that saw thousands of Atlantic salmon escape.
One thing biologists have learned is that it’s much easier – and less costly – to prevent introduction of a species than to remove it after it has established.
Alien species is such an urgent environmental issue that the United Nations has declared the introduction of exotic species the greatest threat to global diversity after habitat loss.
Governments in Canada at all levels have remained silent on this issue. It’s ironic, however, that our natural resources, which form the foundation of our prosperous lifestyle, remain exposed to this most dangerous and underestimated threat.
Sooke’s voice may be a tiny one in the wilderness, but at least that sound can echo to bigger ponds where others must take notice.