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Ottawa to close B.C. fish farms

Ottawa to close B.C. fish farms

19 open-pen salmon farms will close in 2022

By Diego Flammini
Staff Writer

The federal government is moving forward with the closure of multiple fish farms near the Discovery Islands in Campbell River, B.C.

A total of 19 open-pen (large cages suspended in the ocean which separate the fish and the ocean with a net) will close by the end of June 2022, Fisheries Minister Bernadette Jordan announced on Dec. 17.

“Close to 80 per cent (of the farms) will be out of there by April of 2021,” the minister said in an interview, Global News reported.

This move would follow through on a Liberal campaign promise from 2019. The party pledged to transition from open net salmon farming to closed containment systems by 2025.

The Liberal government held consultations with Homalco, Klahoose, K’omoks, Kwaikah, Tla’amin, We Wai Kai and Wei Wai Kum First Nations.

These communities, along with fishing groups and tourism operators, want the farms removed because they pose a threat to the juvenile salmon swimming past the nets during migration.

“The current state of B.C.’s wild salmon is on a downward spiral for extinction, and I don’t say that with any measure of drama,” Bob Chamberlain, chair of the First Nations Wild Salmon Alliance, told Global News.

“The Homalco Nation welcomes Fisheries Minster Bernadette Jordan’s announcement that all open-pen fish farming in the Discovery Islands is being phased out by June 30, 2022,” Darren Blaney, chief of the Homalco First Nation, said in a statement. “Now the salmon have a chance, and we have work to do.”

Members of the salmon sector and community representatives, however, feel they weren’t given a fair opportunity to voice their concerns over the closures.

"You made this decision without even speaking to the industry nor locally elected officials who deeply understand B.C.'s salmon farming communities and have a direct interest in your action,'' reads a letter signed by local mayors and members of the salmon fishing industry, CBC reported. "Be advised that we will no longer sit on the sidelines and will be pursuing every possible option to remedy this untenable situation.''

Phasing out these farms could have significant effects on the surrounding communities.

Losing these operations could result in about 1,500 job losses, the letter says. has contacted members of the salmon fishing sector and First Nations communities for comment on the phase out.

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