Young professionals set to lose out in British Columbia.
The BC Salmon Farmers Association’s Youth Council has sent a letter to the Canadian PM Justin Trudeau over Minister Bernadette Jordan’s decision to close BC’s Discovery Islands farms.
Two-thirds of the people working in BC salmon farming, comprised of scientists, engineers, environmentalists, farmers, veterinarians, certification specialists and more, are under 35 years old. The closures have potentially put 1,500 families in limbo. Trudeau has pledged to phase BC’s open-net salmon farms to closed containment systems by 2025.
Salmon farmers Kenny Leslie and Brad Rempel co-founded the youth arm of the trade association BC Salmon Farmers Association.
“This decision is having a profound impact on young people who once looked ahead to a long and positive career path in salmon aquaculture, but now wonder about their future in this sector. As the Council represents youth from across the sector, we hear this uncertainty firsthand – “what about my mortgage?”, “what about my family and friends?”, “what about the life I was building for myself here?” the letter stated.
“As COVID-19 took hold, salmon farming was named an essential service by your own government and is one of the few industries that did not experience major layoffs in Canada. We would like to remind you that the demographic most impacted by COVID-19 economically is youth. Two-thirds of the people working in BC salmon farming are under 35 years old. At a time when securing and protecting the future of young people in Canada is so critical, we find ourselves reeling, stressed, anxious and exhausted – with our future in jeopardy,” it added.
To Trudeau, the Youth Council asked: “As highly trained and skilled young professionals, we are concerned by any decision made that does not have data, science, and research at its core. Without including science in decision making, where will Canada be?”
“As youth in aquaculture, still have a place in the future of the Blue Economy.”
Blue Economy Strategy
Against the backdrop of the letter, the Canadian government released on Monday its Blue Economy Strategy to commit to its economic transformation post-COVID-19 to be “a global leader in the blue economy”.
“We propose what Canada can and must do to regain global leadership, to “seize the podium” in supercharging its seafood production. We do not look to be the “biggest,” but rather the best,” the report stated.
In terms of BC farmed salmon, the Blue Economy strategy engagement paper, which is introduced by Fisheries Minister Bernadette Jordan, said that “farmed salmon is particularly important as the top seafood and agri-food export in the province”.
In the literature, it acknowledged that major salmon production, which constitutes “close to 90 per-cent of the value of Canada’s seafood farming sector, has seen no layoffs due to the COVID crisis. This is an important sign of strength and resiliency upon which Canada’s coastal communities can build and grow”.
Though, the report did say that “it is very unlikely we will ever again be the top seafood exporter in the world”.
It added that in Atlantic Canada, salmon aquaculture activities are expected to continue to expand over the next several years.